[Previous] Blog Comment Impersonation | Home | [Next] Standards

Fear of Future Employers

Many people have a vague fear of future employers. What if they say something that one day prevents them from getting a job? So they watch what they say online, where statements get saved and often still exist decades later.

This fear dramatically affects people's lives. Many people are quite scared and won't speak their mind in public. They hide their values from the world. Some people won't even speak their mind in private to friends.

People make a big deal out of this. Large numbers of Facebook groups – with hundreds or thousands of members – are "closed" and have rules that the content is all private. This privacy is illusory (sharing secrets with a thousand strangers doesn't work), but people are so fearful that they really want this comforting lie in order to be willing to discuss their ideas.

The issue is not only fear of future employers. Some people are scared their friends or family will find out their ideas about parenting. People are scared of all kinds of true information being had by others, so they hide it. The employer case is especially common.

Some people have concrete fears. For example, they have a job and a secretary. They are afraid of getting in trouble for sexual harassment if they ask her out. Or you're worried that if you tell a particular idea to a particular friend, he'll get mad at you.

As long as you're thinking about specific actions right now, and you have concrete reason to believe that fear is reasonably likely to happen, it's a concrete fear. That may be bad, you may be making a mistake, but it's not the topic of this essay.

This essay is about hiding values with no specific knowledge of a concrete danger. It's about vague fears of what could maybe happen in the future. It's about thinking your values don't have a chance in the world in general.

The issue with future employers is: one day I might want to trade with someone who doesn't like my values and won't trade with people with significantly different values. Therefore, I'll hide my values for my whole life, just in case.

People hide their values from the world, for their whole life, not out of any concrete fear, but just because of some vague maybes.

And people go through their whole lives that way, keeping their values out of their life. They keep their values hidden away in their head. It's very sad.

(One reason people hide their values is because they think morality and pragmatism conflict. So by sharing values, they must damn themselves as either immoral or impractical.)

Hiding values destroys them. It involves living by other values lots of the time. And it involves avoiding discussion of your values. So you don't get to learn more about your values, and discuss how to best follow them, and get criticism when you mess up. By hiding your values, you make it much harder to improve your values or deal with errors in your understanding of them and how you act.

And if you aren't trying to live your values at all times, every time you violate your values can be excused. It really blurs the line about which deviations from your values were a mistake or a strategy.

Fear is a bad sense of life to live with. And more subtle things, like hesitation worry or stress, are bad too. One should be proud of one's values. A good life is proudly confident in one's value, one's values, one's mind, one's judgment and ones ability.

When you apply for a job, there is a fact of the matter of whether you are suitable and would be a good hire. If you should be hired, an employer who rejects you due to something irrelevant is mistaken or acting irrationally. He is harming his own business. Why do you want to work for an mistaken or irrational employer that has something against your values in particular?

Why would you want to hide your values from someone for the sake of having ongoing interactions, 40 hours per week, with someone who has values incompatible with your own? Why not find something better to do with your life than get a job where your values aren't wanted?

There are other jobs. Or you could start your own business. Why do you imagine you'll be so desperate for one particular unsuitable job in the distant future? Why do you expect your life so be so fragile and to have zero other good options? And why harm your life, today, for fear life will never work out? By making your life worse now, you're actually causing a worse life situation in the future – the very thing you feared.

The underlying mistake here is the malevolent universe premise. People think their values have no chance in the world, and the best thing to do is suppress their values so they can get along with the evil world they hate. And they are so fearful and pessimistic, in the face of vague potential future danger, that they don't even want to try to live a good life and see if maybe that can work out after all.

People may not recognize this applies to them because it's hard to live while hating and fearing the world and one's life. So people come up with rationalizations. People start telling themselves their life is OK, and the rest of the world is OK. And they start changing their values to more conventional ones.

If someone doesn't like your values, it's good that you communicated your values. Now you both know you have a clash of values, and can look for more compatible people (or, perhaps, discuss the matter and try to figure out the truth). That's much better than having an ongoing clash of hidden values that confusingly blights your interactions.

(Or if the values in question are irrelevant to what you want to do together, you can continue anyway and drop the irrelevant issue. But note that if someone is unwilling to drop it, they don't consider it irrelevant. If you disagree with them about what's relevant, that is itself an incompatibility between you.)

Don't let vague fears that the world is a bad place, and something bad might happen to you one day, ruin your life now. Don't live in fear and hide the very values that could create a better world in general, and a better life for yourself. Don't hold a malevolent universe premise.

Do your best to figure out good ideas and good values. Stay open minded to rational criticism. Then deal with the world proudly, confident that a moral and rational life is practical. We don't live in hell. Don't give up without trying. A good life is possible, it can work.

Update: I found a great comment to add from a mini Ann Coulter biography article:
"... there's nothing more conformist than to just talk about the college rape epidemic as being America's biggest crisis. But to be a woman who's going to go on TV and just declare the college rape epidemic to be a load of crap, that takes guts."

...

The first time Coulter told me she was punk rock, I thought she was joking, but this time, she wasn't trying to make people laugh. While the rest of us save our most provocative thoughts for private moments, worried we'll be fired or offend someone, Coulter has purposefully built her life so she can speak her mind without fear about employment or financial repercussions.

"I didn't get the gene that makes you afraid," Coulter explained. "I really am the freest person in America right now. I can say anything."

Elliot Temple on September 30, 2015

Comments (13)

What got you thinking about this? Like, what sparked it?

Anonymous at 2:51 PM on September 30, 2015 | #3380
The Open Oxford Facebook group wants to only share their political ideas with over 2000 of their closest friends in private, and their #1 excuse is fear a future employer would see their ideas.

Elliot Temple at 2:53 PM on September 30, 2015 | #3381
note that the group lets anyone join and immediately view the full history of everything anyone said in the past.

Anonymous at 2:53 PM on September 30, 2015 | #3382
and those cowards have the audacity to believe they are standing up for free speech, that they are fighters for ideas

Anonymous at 2:55 PM on September 30, 2015 | #3383
>note that the group lets anyone join and immediately view the full history of everything anyone said in the past.

and anyone can see who is in closed groups. so if an employer sees that you are in a group, they can very easily just join the group and see what you said there.

Anonymous at 10:46 PM on September 30, 2015 | #3385
> standing up for free speech

but they are, Lulie's magazine got banned by Oxford and now they're taking the fight to them!

Anonymous at 4:39 AM on October 1, 2015 | #3386
lol did anyone see the pic of Lulie draped in the Israeli flag?

Anonymous at 4:18 PM on October 1, 2015 | #3392
i wore an Israeli flag outdoors too :)

http://curi.us/566-wearing-an-israeli-flag

Elliot Temple at 4:21 PM on October 1, 2015 | #3393
> but they are, Lulie's magazine got banned by Oxford and now they're taking the fight to them!

Lulie and NO are not OO and she is not even particularly aligned with OO (she was booted as admin because of this)

Anonymous at 2:55 AM on October 3, 2015 | #3394
NO wasn't banned from the University, it just wasn't permitted in a Freshers event, slightly different

Anonymous at 2:51 PM on October 3, 2015 | #3395
> she is not even particularly aligned with OO (she was booted as admin because of this)

she was aligned with OO but that conflicted with impressing Elliot and to impress Elliot she got booted.

Anonymous at 1:05 PM on October 8, 2015 | #3769
> i wore an Israeli flag outdoors too :)
>
> http://curi.us/566-wearing-an-israeli-flag

no pic. didn't happen.

Anonymous at 1:06 PM on October 8, 2015 | #3770
I didn't get booted, I stepped down. I stepped down for multiple reasons -- the two main ones being 1) I was receiving harassment, and 2) I thought the new moderation policies are impossible to enforce. (In that order.)

Lulie at 4:39 AM on October 27, 2015 | #4294

What do you think?

(This is a free speech zone!)