Meredith Levinson writes what is quite possibly the most ridiculous column I have read in the last year, which in this age of Monetarists and Keynesians attempting to get their heads around the ongoing financial crisis, is really rather remarkable:
I’m tired of career experts advising job seekers to “play it safe” online by not posting any photos, opinions or information on blogs and social networking websites that a potential employer might find remotely off-putting. I understand where these career counselors are coming from: They’re in the business of dispensing advice that will help people land jobs. Recommending that people “play it safe” is as anodyne as it gets.
But instead of cautioning job seekers to censor their behavior and the information and pictures they post online, we job seekers and defenders of civil liberties should tell employers to stop snooping and stop judging our behavior outside of work. What we do, say and believe in our personal lives in most cases has no bearing on our ability to do a job, barring criminal behavior, of course.
This is utterly stupid, and I say that as someone who has been repeatedly warned by other authors that I will never be published by publishers such as Tor due to my personal opinions published on the Internet. But why shouldn’t Tor publish whoever they want? If they want to publish only fiction written by fat feminists and the aging drones that cater to them, that’s their call. It was interesting when, within minutes of my starting a high-profile consulting project last year, a few employees at the company began emailing the management to complain about my political views. That backfired a bit, ironically, because it turns out that in difficult times, amazingly few executives are interested in continuing to pay employees who are more concerned about trying to enforce their personal ideological prejudices than they are about the survival of the company.
It is not only an employer’s right to search online for information about their prospective employees, it is their duty! The fact that Ms Levinson doesn’t like the idea that any pictures she might post of herself exposing her breasts at Mardi Gras or taking part in an interspecies erotica festival in Tijuana could inhibit her future employment possibilities is totally irrelevant. The employee has the right to choose for whom he wishes to work, and the employer has the right to choose whomever he wishes to employ, selected by whatever metric he elects to choose.
But give the woman some credit. At least she had just enough sense to avoid calling for Congress to pass a law prohibiting employers from accessing Google.