A friend of mine just shuttered his blog.
And now he’s mute, because his employer doesn’t want him blogging.
Now you know why you’ve gone this far without my linking to him… and as tempted as I might be to quote him, I don’t want to put his new job in jeopardy in this economy.
I have no real way of knowing how much he agrees with this decision. I do appreciate the stress that an outside communication vehicle can put on certain jobs. When I left the Birmingham chapter of the Red Cross to take a regional position, I was still blogging at Accentuate the Positive, 2.0. It was a natural niche for me, writing about crisis communications and the statements organizations made during the heat of the moment. I also knew that my opinions about how companies responded might have an adverse impact on a non-profit.
No one asked me to stop, it never came up. (I’m not sure my superiors at the time were aware of blogs yet, although I did my best to make sure they knew before I left!) I decided I didn’t want to put the Red Cross in a position where a public spokesman of some stature made a statement that angered a company, who then pulled donations or support. It wasn’t worth it.
I took some time off to learn the new ropes, and found that I had to write something somewhere. From there, Occam’s RazR was born. A place for me to express myself, and challenge myself to explain the art of explanation. Or something like that.
So I understand the desire to pipe down, so as not to anger a new employer or its clients.
But to tell someone they can’t have a personal blog, period?
I don’t think my friend is going to work for any company that falls under SEC reporting concerns, and unless he went and got a law degree while I wasn’t looking, he’s not under that sort of restriction either. They just don’t want him to have a blog.
We just need to recognize there are still pockets of resistance out there in the real world that are okay with people having a platform for free expression… and a vast expanse that thinks otherwise.
Yes, I have that right.
In most of the business world, it’s still a vice to have a voice. Toes aren’t for dipping into new waters, they are for the company line.
HR departments and hiring managers are hip enough now to ask “Do you have a blog?” or “Are you on The Facebook?” or “Are you in Tweeter?” But if they don’t have a social media policy that governs use for both on-the-clock and off, then I fear you’re going to see more of this.
Do I think my friend will write again? My gut tells me yes, even if he does it under an alias. He’ll likely be very careful about his subject matter… sticking to pretty pictures and sample guitar riffs ought to be pretty safe.
But it’s a shame when a good writer with a powerful voice gets the wind knocked out of him by a corporate culture driven by fear.
Peace be with you, my friend. (and congrats on the job.)