Long ago I promised a follow-up to my various religious exemptions/one law/pluralism posts about how to preserve that pluralism.
This is not that post.
Instead, it’s a quickie follow-up to yesterday’s post about doing one’s job.
As I have mentioned ad nauseam, I am a hardliner when it comes to one’s work duties, namely, that if you’re unwilling, for whatever reason, to perform a job, then you should quit.
Yes, you can try to negotiate these duties, try to convince your bosses that their policies are wrong, but, in the end, if you can’t do the job, then you shouldn’t do the job.
The flip side of this, which I have only occasionally mentioned, is that what you do off the job should have no bearing on the job.
There might be some reasonable exceptions to this, but I’m pretty comfortable stating that those exceptions should be few and far between. You might be a racist piece of shit on your own time, but if you can keep it together while you’re on the clock, then that’s all that should matter.
Now, some might argue that someone who’s a racist piece of shit off the job is highly unlikely to keep it together on the job, but unless and until that person loses it, she should keep her job. Judge someone’s work performance by her work performance, and that’s it.
Furthermore, this oughtta be a law—and not just as a protection for the worker (who most needs it), but as a defense for the employer: I can’t fire someone you don’t like just because you don’t like ’em.
This, to me, is an obvious corollary to telling the Kim Davises of the world to suck it up: if there are limits to how far you may take your personal life into a job, then there are also limits as to how far a job may enter into your personal life.
This is not a position I would have taken when I was younger. Back then, I had notions of throwing my whole self into a job, of defining myself almost completely by the work I do. Now, however, while I do gain a sense of self from my work, I’m also aware of the necessity of boundaries—both as a practical matter and for my own mental health.
I really do love teaching, but I do it because I get paid. It’s a job which I need in order to pay the rent, and I don’t care for my employer to take into account anything about my ability to do the job except for my performance on the job.
And not that I have much going on, but I most definitely to do not want them poking around in my private life.
There’s a thing about living in a city in which you can see into your neighbor’s apartment or hear your neighbor’s conversations/sex/fights: You pretend that you don’t. Your (and your neighbor’s) privacy might be a kind of fiction, but it’s the kind of fiction that works in real life.
I think we should take the same approach to social media and on- and off-the-job behavior as well: If the person sitting next to you is fine at work, but after work engages in behavior you find repugnant or ludicrous, pretend that you don’t know. Just let it be.
A little bit of breathing room is good for all of us.