Welcome to Oceania

I have never been a huge fan of stories that depict dystopic, future representations of society. I’ve certainly read some of the iconic novels, but I haven’t enjoyed them for more than the appreciation of the skill of their respective writers. Now, I will admit to reading a romance novel or two in my day as well, but even those written in anything but our contemporary slice of the space-time continuum bother me. So I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I don’t like the period pieces because I can’t relate personally to them, or if I just can’t stand the idea of all of humankind going to hell in a hand basket.

Obviously, this all only applies to the written word, as I’ve never had any trouble enjoying the myriad of outer space based television shows I’ve watched over the years. But, then, I’ve always been a bit of a book snob. Along the spectrum of global relevance, I can’t imagine anything transmitted over the airwaves would land anywhere near actual text on paper.

What I actually wanted to write about today is not novels or TV shows or movies. The impetus for this post is THIS article, published today on Yahoo, about the State of Maryland passing a bill to ban employers from requiring the Facebook passwords of their employees. And THIS one, about a school aide fired for not turning hers over. The first time this issue came to my attention was last month, when an article broke about a gentleman being asked for his Facebook user ID and password during a reinstatement interview for his job (he had been out on leave). His name is Robert Collins. Click the pic for that article.

Robert Collins who, upon being asked for his FB ID & password, got up and left his interview.

When I first saw this article, I was incensed, as were those around me who read it. That was my first reaction. Secondly, I wondered how important a Facebook profile really is, but quickly discounted that thought, because the issue is much bigger than that. And thirdly, I decided that the best course of action would be to make a separate Facebook account for these purposes if you felt you would have to comply with a potential employer’s Orwellian request at all. Which brought me right back around to my first reaction and, once again, I was incensed.

This new trend of those we work for thinking they have a right to full knowledge of our private lives is simply mind boggling. I am a small business owner. I would never, never, ever have the unmitigated gall to ask an employee for their private information, other than what I need in order to pay them properly. I don’t own them. They are not my property. They are human beings, just like me, who have agreed to work and earn a wage in return. That’s pretty damned cool, if you ask me. I didn’t buy them on a slaver’s block. Sure, they might have something negative to say sometime and it might just be about me or their job in general. I surely hope not, but we all have bad days, weeks, etc. Maybe they even have friends that I would not get along with or associate with people other than those I associate with. You know what? So what? When did that become my business? And it’s called freedom of speech, boo boo bear. For the love of the deity of your choice, where do people think this will all lead anyway?

Let’s say your employer gets  your log-in information and checks your profile. What are they looking for? Will they read your privately sent messages to family and friends? Will they then tell you what they need you to delete in order to be in compliance? And will they require ongoing access to your account in order for you to remain employed? Perhaps all those working for any given employer would be required to have a photo taken with their manager and use that as their profile picture.

In fact, why not let the HR department post a profile for each employee, totally constructed and controlled by said department, and just have the workers show up for photos now and then (company approved of course) to be uploaded. Company outings can be arranged, on a mandatory basis, and official photographers could be on hand to chronicle the happy, happy, joy, joy way the co-workers interact with each other and how they show their deep-felt appreciation for all the company does for them.

I think I’ve solved the problem! Wait a minute, what IS the problem? If an employee shows up, does their job, even excels at their job, what difference would their personal affiliations and comments make? I want to rant about this some more, but it’s giving me a headache.

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