Thursday, February 5, 2009

Employment Hang-Ups

The New York Times has an interesting item today. We meet a writer recently laid off, who talks about what to wear on THAT day.

With the current economic trends being what they are, this is a question many of us face. That is not, however, the part of the article that struck me. THIS was.

Of course, things have a way of turning out not quite as expected.

As I had imagined it, I would get the bad news in person after making a work-related call at the midtown studios of Fox News Channel. But at 1 p.m., just after I had entered a restroom in the News Corporation building, my phone rang. I was terminated in a brief, cordial chat with my editor. It was only a minute later, after I had hung up the phone, that I thought to mumble to myself alone in the men’s room, “But what did you think of the suit?”

I'm struck by how impersonal and disconnected we as a species have become. There was a time that such an event would be handled in person. Nowadays, though, we seem to live in an age when relationships are ended on Facebook, contracts cancelled by SMS, and - in this case - jobs ended by a call to a cellphone.

There have been (as Delenn would say) "books - thousands of pages" written on how technology is alienating us from one another. But I never expected such thinking would need to be applied to termination. A firing by cellphone strikes me as distant and inconsiderate - particularly at such a level in the business. Then again, this IS NewsCorp we're talking about.

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