I’m fairly active on Twitter, and I follow a number of game developers both big and small. While some of those accounts I follow are the official accounts for the developer as an organization, a fair few have been individuals. Never in all my time interacting with those individuals have I ever seen one of them react negatively with something I, or anyone else, has had to say.
Even in the fair few instances when someone outright attacked or mocked the individual in question, I’ve never seen an unprofessional interaction.
They’re People Too
Obviously, I’m referring to the interaction recently between Jessica Price, an ArenaNet writer and Deroir, a Guild Wars 2-focused YouTuber. It’d be difficult to be on Twitter at all without at least hearing about the interaction in passing. I don’t want to provide any links to the thread where the interaction took place. The fact is that while I don’t agree with the way she handled the situation, she isn’t deserving of the attacks she’s been facing.
She was rude, but she’s also human.
Chances are, even if you’ve only worked one day in your life, you’ve experienced what it’s like to have someone attempt to explain something about your job to you. In retail, it usually entailed someone trying to tell me how my workplace policies and procedures worked. In food service, it was customers explaining alternative methods of production or offering suggestions that simply wouldn’t work. Other professions experience the same thing, like with police officers, judges, and lawyers being told how the justice system should work, or information systems specialists being told how to properly network a workplace.
In all of those situations, it’s really easy to become upset and have a bad reaction, but you can’t. In some situations, it’s a well-meaning individual who doesn’t know any better, but yes, there are times when it’s just an ignorant fool trying to get their way. Regardless of the intentions of the offender, it’s generally not considered to be a good idea to bite the hand that feeds you, especially when your company relies so heavily on its interaction with its community.
I violated company policy at a previous job (big shocker right?); the social media policy. I complained about my shift at work, about how I had worked longer hours than the rest of my coworkers and stayed longer than my supervisors even, all because the person who was supposed to take over for me forgot their schedule. While I still disagree about my complaint being a violation of company policy considering that I didn’t provide names and never disclosed my workplace, I was still written up. A manager of mine saw my post, and I was written up the next day.
Young, dumb Shelby learned an important lesson that day: What you say on social media sites, is there for the whole world to see. For better, or worse.
Since then, I’ve made great strides to ensure that I never cross my social media with work. As much as I’d love to brag about my workplace and proclaim my pride in my work, I know that I can’t be 100% sure that I’ll never say something that might be conflated to be from my employer in some way.
That’s where the subject of this post made her mistake. Had she not disclosed her association with ArenaNet, she probably could’ve gotten away with her outburst. However, as with most companies these days, ArenaNet certainly has policies dictating individual conduct on social media platforms. That just comes with the territory in this day and age. The fact of the matter is that you can’t wear your workplace like a badge of honor and still act like an asshat on social media.
Furthermore, I’d venture a guess that she wasn’t fired only for making those replies, though they definitely played a role.
“I was given no opportunity to argue my case… The whole thing was highly unprofessional,” -Jessica Price, Narrative Developer
Her statements on the subject sound eerily like my own following the confrontation over my social media post, and ensuing write-up. I only sought to defend myself, expressing little interest in seeing things from the perspective of my managers at the time. I feel as if she backed herself into a corner, given her apparent attitude regarding the subject. She’s a very passionate person, and I know that works in her favor when fighting for causes she believes in, but that doesn’t work well when you’re being reprimanded by a superior. That pride and passion can quickly get you in trouble.
I’ve met similar people in my time in the service sector; she expressed her disdain for the community which formed around the game. Whether she feels that disdain is deserved or not is irrelevant. She’s not the type of person you want interacting with the community evidently; something ArenaNet discovered far too late.
Based on the interview I’ve read on the subject, ArenaNet saw her Ask Me Anything post on Reddit and Twitter thread about narrative design to be professionally linked, because she publicly displayed her association with ArenaNet on both sites, and discussed Guild Wars 2 content with fans on both sites.
She was representing the company. The expectation was to behave professionally and respectfully, or at least walk away. -Mike O’Brien, ArenaNet President
As I’ve said before, publicly displaying your affiliation with your employer is often a double-edged sword. She obviously loved her job, and was clearly good at it. However, this is ample evidence to prove that you can’t expect to reap the benefits of being acknowledged as a member of an organization while not also suffering the consequences of poor social decisions.
There are some important things to take away from this:
- Don’t stick your neck out and act as a representative of your employer if you want to mouth off to people or fly off the handle without provocation.
- People like Jessica Price don’t deserve to be on the receiving end of targeted harassment. She made a mistake, and was extremely rude, but she’s not an evil person. The people attacking her and celebrating her firing need to lay the hell off.
- It’s easy to sit back and armchair quarterback, saying a company should stick up for their employees regardless of their behavior.
But that’s just my takeaway on this. I know there are those out there that feel she has been unfairly treated as a consequence of being a woman. I myself can’t see any indication that the events that unfolded were a result of an attack on her sex or gender, unless it was so expertly veiled that it required thorough scrutiny of writing between the lines. Then again, I’m male, so I get the feeling I’m not the authority on the subject.
What are your thoughts on the situation? How would you feel in her shoes? In the shoes of ArenaNet? In the shoes of someone sparking up discussion?
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