6/06/2007

what blogs can do

to continue my wandering musings on the capabilities of blogs (fyi: apparently Google bought a plane, which many have dubbed "GoogleAir," interest in which has resulted in a number of hits on my blog - almost as many as for people looking for an answer to the eternal question, "how many nickels in a roll?"), i can now add another item to the "what blogs can do" list: lose you a job.

well, not really. i didn't have the job yet (just three interviews) and i ended up turning them down, not vice-versa (though i didn't give them a chance to turn me down, either), but the idea is the same.

it was a job working with high school students and my prospective employer came accross this poem, and brought it up as a concern during the third interview. ugh.

censorship has never been a big issue in my life, mostly because:

1. so few people encounter my writing
2. those who do usually are the types who have their heads screwed on straight, and
3. i don't write terribly controversial things (or at least the controversial things, like my "i wish sadaam hussein was still alive" poem, are rarely published).

at first i capiltulated and said i would pull the poem off the site, but eventually my brain caught up with me. not only do censorship and creative writing not mix, but neither do censorship and youth empowerment.

people should be rewarded for presenting themselves to the world, not encouraged to hide lest someone find something they don't approve of. i know that isn't the way things work here and now, but if we send a message other than that to the youth of our planet, how can we expect anything to change?

some friends of mine who have suffered through similar negative blogging experiences have turned away from blogging or - in at least one case ;) - have become paranoid and developed elaborate schemes for hiding their actual identities. pen names, i suppose, accomplish the same goal, but that kind of stuff makes me feel as unpleasant as the idea of not writing or publishing in the first place.

so blog, my friend, i suppose you will remain free to ruin careers. i only wish they could be Stephen Harper's and Gordon O'Connor's...

on that note, this site is incredible: http://www.eyesondarfur.org/

7 comments:

Leopold said...

Man, that is horseshit. But I know it goes on, so I try not to tell anybody at work about my stuff. But it comes out eventually.

I know a poet who is under attack (and review) at work because his poems he posted about work (no specifics - just general work poems) are considered 'bullying' by his management. His supervisors were also harassing Red Fez for a while - so I was telling human rights lawyers to get a friggin clue and look at the law - I wasn't taking stuff down. Absolutely ridiculous.

I know my current employer googled me. In this rare case I think it helped (they thought I was creative), but it's still concerning. I think this is a real issue to be resolved - how far can work extend into the personal and artistic life - especially in the digital age.

Ag said...

Crazy. The double-edged sword of technology is perfectly showcased by the examples in that post. I'm sorry about the job dude - but I'm glad it was because you chose to stay strong :) You have more resolve than I.
-Ag

rob taylor said...

thanks, guys, for the support.

upon reflection, i think my "blame it on the blog" approach watered down what i was trying to say: for me, we are the problem, not technology.

all the technology does is produce more points of connection between us, and more opportunities for the ugly sides of ourselves to surface - which is something we should be grateful for.

take message boards, for instance...people would still be thinking all that crazy shit, we just wouldn't see it until it surfaced in far more destructive ways (like voting conservative).

on that note, this is particularly shocking:

http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2007/05/28/china-student-hits-teacher-video/

Jen said...

Hey Rob,

I so completely agree with you. I am working with a group of youth on a literature and art magazine, and a number of issues of censorship have come up. I keep telling the kids (and the adults around them) that the whole point of artistic endeavor is to express, challange and play with ideas without boundaries. Language, imagery, and art are already limited enough, just by their very natures - why do we keep having to impose more limits?

And its funny - as I tell them this, I feel incredibly conscious of what I post on the internet, and what I think about submitting for publication. It's so hypocritical, but it is the world we live in.

I am a big fan of dialogue and respect, and I don't think those things can ever happen without expression and honesty. We need to teach that. I think you took a good step.

rob taylor said...

jen,

thanks, eh. what's this magazine you're working on? i've been mulling over trying to get a HAP-esque lit mag going in Coquitlam high schools, and perhaps i'll now have time for that ;).

i'd be interested to hear more about your project - how it works and how it's been received.

Zachariah Wells said...

Heh. One reason I call my blog Career Limiting Moves. Good on ya for leaving the poem where she is, boyo; it should only offend idiots and that's exactly who we should be irritating. Jobs are many.

rob taylor said...

thanks, zach.

i agree with you that "jobs are many." i'm just worried about whether "jobs are many for non-teachers with history degrees." oh, and "jobs are many for non-teachers with history degrees who may or may not be perverts depend on how you interpret their poetry." we'll see...