… the HR Minion. Because even minions have opinions. And giggles.

Being drunk & stupid is not an excuse…

… especially when your job puts you under public scrutiny.

Now, I know that most of you darling readers out there are not as fully immersed in Geek culture like I am. In fact, I bet at least a few of you are asking yourselves right now, “Geek culture? Is that a thing?”. Oh yes, I can assure you it is, and I wear the Geek label with pride. Even when some members of the culture act like misogynistic idiots trying desperately to be “edgy” and “controversial”.

You see, over the weekend, a contributing writer at a gamer site, Destructoid, took to Twitter (First Mistake) and lashed out at well-known and extremely well-liked actress and geek icon, Felicia Day (Second Mistake).

Felicia Day, Beloved by geeks everywhere

The results were, well, not so good for the writer and you can check out a great account of the story here.

Essentially, the writer called into question Felicia’s contributions to geek culture and insinuated she was nothing more than a “Booth Babe” in a series of nasty tweets. After the resulting backlash to both him and his employer, he both found himself issuing a public apology on Twitter and out of a job.

What was his excuse for his grossly inappropriate comments? Why he was drunk, was not actually familiar with Felicia’s body of work (which is quite notable), and being new to Twitter, he didn’t really understand how this new-fangled technology worked.

Yeah… I have a few things to say about that:

1. Being drunk is never an excuse. Whether it’s the company Christmas party, Happy Hour with a client, or micro blogging on a public site like Twitter, getting drunk and acting inappropriately will always reflect badly on you and your employer. And you know what, the way you act when you are drunk is a reflection of your own insecurities and thoughts you are just better able to hide when sober. Try thinking on that for a minute before you start re-evaluating your life.

2. Being stupid is not an excuse. If ignorance of the law is no protection from punishment when you violate it, then simply stating you didn’t know what Felicia had done or how Twitter works by no means exempts you from your idiocy either. You may be stupid and hateful, but you don’t have to advertise it.

3. Tearing someone down is not a means to build yourself up. If your only contribution to social media and geek culture is to tear everything else down out of ignorance and apathy then we don’t need you.

Now, here’s the HR lesson: Destructoid did the right thing here by firing the writer and apologizing for his comments. They had an employee step out of line, upset their customer base, and subsequently hurt the brands image. There was no other option that would have been appropriate.

Could they have done anything differently to prevent this? Unlikely. No matter how many policies on employee conduct or social media you write, you are bound to have an employee, at some point, do something stupid like this. And unfortunately in this age of Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook; everything your employees do is potentially up for public scrutiny.

So my advice for companies out there is to accept the risk and put plans in place to mitigate the harm. Do your best to hire people not just for their skills but for who they are, inform them of your expectations around their behavior in public and on social media, accept that you can’t control what they do, and act swiftly and decisively if they step out of line.

You know, the exact same things you would do with an employee who got drunk at a client function and hit on the bosses wife. The packaging may have changed and the impact may be bigger, but the problem is still the same.

3 Responses | Add your Own

  • 1 Danni :

    How far does that “mitigation of risk” go and where does it cross the line into discrimination? While being a drunken idiot on a *very* public site is never a good career move, I can see certain companies deciding to not hire people based on their “lifestyle” because it could hurt their “brand”.

  • 2 Shauna :

    Danni – I was not talking about evaluating someones lifestyle, because as you said, that’s verging on discriminatory hiring practices. That stuff is illegal and in no ways minimizes risk as it is both stupid and horrible. All I was saying is that there is more to hiring someone than evaluating job skills alone. There is other stuff you can look for like a sense of responsibility, respect for others, conscientiousness, empathy, etc.

  • 3 Alex @ Kapta :

    Drinking and Twitter can be an HR nightmare. I think this will not be the last human resource issue involving social media and alcohol we will see in the search space. As an employee you need to be able to use your better judgement in your personal time.