A few days ago, employees of spaceflight company Space X released an open letter criticizing its CEO Elon Musk. Less than 48 hours later, at least five employees who orchestrated the letter were fired.
The dam is breaking. Millennials “listen to meeeeeee”, who have had an exaggerated influence on corporations and our culture, are finally being told to sit down and be quiet. It’s too late.
But shouldn’t Elon Musk be a “free speech absolutist?” scream your critics. As I explain to my young children, free speech under the First Amendment means the government can’t arrest you for calling the president an idiot.
This no it means you can do the same to your boss and hope to stay employed. (Likewise, you can’t tell your wife she’s ugly and then claim “free speech!” when she gets mad and leaves you for the pool boy.)
Free speech in America means you can go out into the public square and say what you want, with the certainty that you won’t end up in prison. Twitter should be included in this, which is why Musk is so passionate about allowing open conversations in the app. like Musk tweeted: “Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public square, failure to adhere to the principles of free speech fundamentally undermines democracy.”
Letters from his SpaceX employees sought to get Musk to stop talking about certain topics: “Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks.”
However, there is a difference between tweeting about a variety of topics and defaming your employer. If your boss embarrasses you, find a new one. Your office is not the public square.
Nor can you tweet about how terrible your workplace is and expect your bosses to just take it, as the Washington Post’s Felicia Somnez recently discovered. Somnez was finally fired after a whole week of nonstop tweets about what a horrible place the Washington Post is to work.
The WaPo reporter first called out her alleged “friend” and co-worker Dave Weigel for retweeting what she considered an offensive joke about women. But then she just wouldn’t stop. She accused the company of having “systemic problems”, mocked other employees who defended the newspaper, attacked her bosses and generally behaved like a child who didn’t get what she wanted.
Or like a millennial used to being able to direct their bosses at their whim.
For some time now, corporations have bowed to the likes of Somnez and the angry SpaceX employees. But in recent months, it seems Americans have finally had enough of these babies.
These people thickened our speech, faking words is the same as violence and made an international incident because of retweeted jokes, until everyone was afraid to speak up. They have people fired from their jobs for wrong thinking. They are the worst whiners, making sure no one talks except them. For someone to finally turn them off is their worth.
Hopefully, this moment will bring back the dividing line between work and life. You shouldn’t get fired for what you tweet if it doesn’t affect your employer. But if that happens, you tweet at your own risk. We need to make work separate from the rest of our lives again.
Your company’s superiors are not your family; your workplace is not your home. We need a clearer division between work life and home life. Family members can love you unconditionally and forgive you for your drunken Thanksgiving outburst when you screamed that you hated everyone and wished you had never been born, but your boss doesn’t and shouldn’t.
That’s not a bad thing. Learning to behave in public is something millennials should have learned in kindergarten. May they not have been an ongoing problem for our society. Let’s hope they learn it now.