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May 9, 2011 / Wendy Joan

When Social Media Hurts Your Feelings

There has been something on my mind since December. I need to get it out. This might not be the right place, but that might also be the whole point of this post.

I’ve been exploring the idea of social media etiquette. I’m not talking about what to do if your mom friends you on Facebook, or work colleagues/grade school boyfriends wanting to connect on the Intranets. These scenarios were the questions of 2007 and 2008, and the washed-up evergreen stories of 2009.

Being a Millennial, I’ve never really had the virtual reality crisis many middle-aged people express in these generic social media articles (here’s one, if your interested). Online, I’m not secretly a LARPer, a dominatrix, a cheater, a Joel Osteen fan. I’m Wendy. The same Wendy as real-life Wendy who likes to make pickles, and post bleeding heart liberal comments on world affairs and photos of her giant aloe plant decorated for Christmas.

Christmas. I can already feel this post getting off track. This is the heart of the story.

The week before Christmas 2010, I was halfway through my 30 day Bikram challenge and getting excited about starting graduate school. On a cold, sunny afternoon my boss messaged me, asking me to call her. I immediately got a lump in my throat.

This is it, I told Sam before I dialed. I’m getting fired.

I was right. I could feel it coming for months. My great telecommuting job wasn’t the same after I came back from my September vacation. My employers called me less and less. Then they cut my hours two weeks before Sam and I moved to St. Petersburg. Now, the week before Christmas, they wouldn’t need me after next week, and after next week grad school starts. I was fucked, but I was fine with it, because I was ready to move on, too.

What crushed and embarrassed me was my other boss’ social media comments in the coming weeks. I always felt we had a great working relationship, but after his business partner let me go, I never really heard from him. None of the comments were directly directed at me–really–but they were–sort of. His yearly “mistakes I made last year” post included the takeaway

Craigslist is a waste of time to capture real talent. All our talented friends were snapped up 3-4 years ago.

(But you hired me from Craigslist! And I’ve only been working for your for two years!)

And he tweeted things like

Unfortunately good talent is just as hard to find in NYC as it is in FL.

(But I thought you thought I was talented! And, you employed me for two years. Doesn’t that make you look bad, too?)

I was crushed because these were the people who felt like family, who thought I was interesting and who I packed up nearly their entire Florida office for the spring before. I even tested all the whiteboard markers and threw away the dry ones.

95% of the time, I was proud to work for them, and felt like I was doing meaningful things. This was the first job out of college that I thought was turning into a career. This was the job I would ride the bus an hour and a half for through Bradenton to until I “bought” my own car. The job when I moved in with my boyfriend, ate like a man, pretended to exercise and blindly gained 20 (30?) pounds. I think I became a grown-up in those two years.

As a person who prides her commitment to objectivity, I have no problem saying everything said until this point is subjective and very emotional. These feelings have been stewing for four months, and I feel better already. But I’m still trying to figure out the takeaways . . .

Readers: has social media ever hurt your feelings? Especially in terms of work or business?

.

(If this post happens to be about you, rest assured. I was listening to Nas and Wu Tang writing this, and learned a lot from the both of you.)

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4 Comments

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  1. Heidi / May 9 2011 1:59 pm

    I’m glad you feel better about the situation. You absolutely have a right to feel burned. How could you not, given the context of the Tweets?

    Other than a few years ago, when that I totally ticked off a Mormon blog reader for referring to homeless people as “bums,” I can’t think of a time when social media caused any drama in my life.

    The beauty of having a blog, however, is that you too have a platform to express yourself. And while I’m not a huge fan of using blogs as soap boxes for rants, there’s an art to articulating how you feel about a personal situation in a way that readers can relate and empathize. If done right, the post serves as a thoughtful personal essay. And that’s exactly what you did here.

    Believe me. I know how cathartic it can be to make sense of something (in writing) that’s been stewing for a long time. Whenever I hammer out a confessional it usually takes the sting out of the situation.

    On the bright side: you live in St. Pete. You’ve got an awesome boyfriend. You make delicious pickles and you knit soft cuddly baby blankets. I couldn’t be more excited to be your neighbor and new friend. 🙂

  2. ian alexander / May 26 2011 4:57 pm

    You were and are the exception. Isn’t a day that goes by we don’t miss the heck out of you and your work. But to clarify – Craigslist used to be (in reality prob 8-10 years ago) a place where quality talent could be found in bunches. Now, not so much. Furthermore the talent pool, NY and FL and is extremely thin. This is due in part to demand and due in part to a generational gap (methinks).

    Great post – honest and pure. Just like you.

    • Wendy Joan / Jun 1 2011 10:11 am

      Hi Ian,

      Your kind words mean more than you know. I hope you know this post grew from frustration, but was intended to make people think (not invite compliments).

      I think 2011 will be big for you guys, and I hope you find your unicorn soon 🙂

      (Ps. I’m learning code, and I think I like it).

      Miss you guys,
      Wendy

  3. Jupiter Jim / Jun 26 2011 12:10 am

    Wendy,
    Great Post and exactly why I just can’t work for anyone else anymore. There are a million stories just like this one. Many far worse. The Universe is trying to let you know in a very gentle way that you need to work for yourself, as well. Next time, or maybe the time after that, the Universe won’t be so gentle! So follow your dream and thanks for this post!
    Sincerely,
    Jupiter Jim

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