The blurry lines between personal opinion expressed on social media and those aligned with your employer seemed to have done it for Tom Goodwin at Publicis. Keith Smith, MD at the Advertist isn’t surprised and he has a theory about why this is more common as we’re working more from home. 

If you’re a professional and you want to express your own opinion, work for yourself. It’s the only way you can do it.

Tom Goodwin wasn’t sacked by Publicis for his ‘controversial’ tweet about Coronavirus. He was canned because, in a reactionary follow-up, he insulted Tom Morton of R/GA who is a bigger swinging dick than Tom. Publicis took the view that retreat is the better part of valor and made Tom fall on his sword. There’s no controversy here.

Speaking one’s mind (as I often do) is the privilege of those who pay their own salary. It always has been and always will be. No employer gives any employee carte blanche to say whatever the hell they want. The corporate reputation is sacrosanct and if you don’t support it, you’re against it.

In my past, I should have been sacked a couple of times for things I’ve said. I remember in my rookie media sales days literally threatening a client with a media ‘backlash’ because they chose to advertise with a rival. But I wasn’t living in a social media age, when slight errors of judgment are amplified and vilified by the righteous and sensitive, and subjected to an instant troll pile-on. All it took to resolve my big-mouthery was a lot of groveling and forelock tugging and phrases involving an understanding of my position in the food chain.

Of course I air my points of view, just not on social media. I do it on the phone or in video calls. I do it in company – well, used to do it in company – but more of that in a moment. Basically, I know that if I open my mouth on social media, apart from saying howdedoo, I’m going to get blasted by someone and frankly, I don’t have the bandwidth to incite arguments with people who spend their time analysing and dissecting other’s comments.

Why people feel they need to throw their views out there on social media is beyond me. Who gives a shit except those who don’t give a shit about you? Unless you want to goad people and provoke gossip, just zip it.

One reason this seems to be a more common occurrence is the fact that many of those who used to vent these opinions in the office are working from home and therefore see Twitter as the new watercooler – a place to drop one-liners, bigoted views, salacious gossip and general verbal ephemera that would normally disappear into the ether. But once it’s committed on Twitter, it stays committed and is there for weeks, months and years, for people to dig up and weaponise at a later date.

So Tom, on the record, I’m sorry for what happened. But as a highly gifted individual, I’m sure you’ll find an employer who shares your views on the Coronavirus (because that’s how you will be judged from now on). 

Round the watercooler? Duh.

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

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