Aug 27, 2009

to write or not to write?

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything and mostly because I have been sick for what seems like forever but also because I write for a living and that seems to have taken a bit of the fun out of it. I read somewhere once that if you take something you enjoy doing and turn it into a job, you will start hating it. I don’t hate writing (I could never) but because all I do all day is write, write, write… the last thing I want to do when I am home is write some more.

For a while I’ve wondered about writing stuff about work and the things I observe and learn there but I’m still not sure. The thing is, the company I work for is a pretty big international online business and my observations are obviously about their business niche. I will obviously not divulge their name or anything confidential but it’s still a toss up about whether or not I should talk about other work related things online. There are things I find funny, some true and some plain bizarre and I know it will make interesting writing because very few people work in this niche. I’d like to talk about it but I’m still trying to figure out how to do it without divulging too many details.

My employers have not placed any specific restrictions on us about discussing their work on social media but a general employment contract at every workplace will require you not to divulge confidential information. But after a major Twitter controversy, Telstra (Australia’s largest telecom provider) now has a social media company policy and I think is the first Australian company to have such a policy. It details what can or cannot be discussed by Telstra employees online.

Even without such detailed social media policies, most employees do have a basic common sense about what can or cannot be said on a public forum. Yet it’s all so subjective that I think it is impossible to have uniform guidelines for every profession, occupation and company. Obviously if you work for the Secret Service, you’d have to be good at keeping things, um well, SECRET but your boss at Maccas (McDonald’s) is probably less anal about the confidentiality angle of your job. ;)

Nevertheless, every company has secrets and as un-secret-like as they might seem to you, as employees it is important to protect and respect that confidentiality. Once again, it comes down to common sense and basically just thinking before broadcasting it to the world. For example, your Facebook status might say “I hate my boss” but if your boss is the Prime Minister of Australia, you’re obviously badmouthing your own party and everyone knows what could happen there; if your boss is the manager at the local 7/11, you’re less likely to be in trouble (unless your boss is on Facebook, in which case, you’d just be stupid!) and if your boss is the local mob boss…(need I complete this sentence?)

But, back to my original point, sometimes the boundaries are slightly blurred…so how do you know what details are okay to share? Can you ever really know for sure whether your comments have the potential to get you fired because what you think is funny might be insulting for your boss…

I might sound overtly paranoid especially considering I don’t really work for a super secret job or anything and I don’t have things like attorney-client privilege to worry about but I think it’s the journalist in me worrying about defamation, libel etc. Yes, I am studying Media Law this semester. ;-)


Anonymous said...

Oh...I'm paranoid about similar stuff like that as well...there's so much more I'd love to blog about or write as my FB status...but due to confidentiality issues, I don't. Even though I would never refer to my clients by name, I don't even want to refer to them...if that makes sense.

And you are obviously listening intently in your media and law class!! :P

Anonymous said...

Haha. Yes, I'm really enjoying my Media Law class... its making me think a lot. I'm still going back and forth about work stuff so until I make up my mind, I guess I'll just talk about other things.

Anonymous said...

There's something for you on my blog.