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Why Publicly Shaming Your Boss Is Actually A Great Career Move

How burning a work bridge leads to better opportunities.

If being laid off is the corporate version of a sucker punch, mass termination via form letter is more like a round of carpet bombing. A few years ago, AOL informed me that my “engagement for content services” was no longer needed in a company-wide email that addressed me as “Hi There.” Emboldened by visions of financial ruin, I composed a scathing essay that ran on a popular humor website.

“Are you sure you want to burn that bridge?” asked a concerned friend. “You’ll never work with them again.” He had a point. Conventional wisdom says that trashing an employer is bad business. Rather than piercing AOL’s armor, it’s possible I’d only dent my own. What if I came off as an entitled crybaby, suspiciously interested in workers’ rights only after getting rejected? But when the piece went live, commenters cheered me on, and my bitter words were picked up across the internet. Surprisingly, freelance job offers piled up in my inbox—good ones. After years of lowbrow “content creation,” I’d fired back and, in the process, gained respect as a serious writer.


Pre-internet, the public kiss-off was essentially nonexistent, save for the rare office legend who gave his boss the finger. But as our jobs move into virtual spaces with employers we’ve never met, it’s hard to resist the impulse to turn a burned bridge into a shared bonfire by going viral.

Online brush-offs aren’t limited by platform. In 2013, Marina Shifrin quit her job at Next Media Animation by posting a YouTube video of herself dancing to the lyrics from Kanye West’s “Gone.” Nearly 20 million people viewed her routine, and eight years after its release, the song showed up on the Billboard Hot 100. Shifrin’s internet fame wasn’t temporary, either; these days, she’s on the writing staff of Comedy Central’s late-night show @midnight.

Bridge burners occasionally do double duty as whistle- blowers, as when Wendy Bradshaw, a special education teacher from Florida, resigned last October with a Facebook post that also blasted education reforms. Then there’s former Goldman Sachs vice president Greg Smith. Two months after being denied a million-dollar promotion, Smith published a New York Times op-ed in 2012 detailing how “morally bankrupt” his colleagues were. The missive was juicy enough to lead to a book, Why I Left Goldman Sachs. Released barely six months after his departure, the tell-all bombed, though it netted Smith a $1.5 million advance.

This year, Talia Jane, a one-time customer service rep for the Yelp-owned Eat24 took to Medium to tear down the company’s treatment of employees with “An Open Letter to My CEO.” On February 19, she published the screed outlining how Eat24’s terrible pay, in combination with exclusionary Bay Area real estate prices, had left her teetering on the poverty line. Seemingly moments later, the backlash had begun. Online pundits couldn’t shake the entitled millennial in their sights, digging through her Instagram history to uncover smoking guns in the form of semi-expensive bourbon and face peels. By February 22, the blogosphere’s response had metastasized in the form of another Medium post titled “A self-righteous open letter to people who write self-righteous open letters to people who write self-righteous open letters...” We’re living in a post-Jane era, when spiteful declarations of independence feel too much like navel-gazing to be taken seriously. It seems I slid past the closing doors just in time: Last year, I quit the editorial job I’d been offered in the wake of my AOL essay to spend more time writing, but I found it difficult not to reach for my trusty old weapons.

I tapped once more into the well of vengeance and virality with a sophomore kiss-off essay for the same publication—this time about the blogs that paid me poorly and then died, stranding my work in the internet’s version of purgatory. The second post garnered a bigger response than the first: more comments, better job offers. Turns out, the people who matter—your future colleagues and bosses—won’t hold your indignance against you. They’ve worked for the same monsters.

No, it’s the internet you need to fear, that latent force forever trawling for argumentative gristle. The question is no longer: What will my next boss think? It’s more like: Do I want search results for my name to pull up essays calling me an entitled millennial? I wouldn’t recommend it.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

RELATED: Bill and Melinda Gates had a surprising answer when asked about a 70 percent tax on the wealthiest Americans

"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

RELATED: Bill Gates has five books he thinks you should read this summer.

The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.





Culture
Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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