Yesterday the popular software engineer Youtuber named “Tech Lead” got fired from his job at Facebook. The reason? HR didn’t like his Youtube channel.
His videos are simply him talking about tech and giving career advice, and at no point did he ever mention his employer, or any information that might negatively impact his company. Yet he was fired for this – something he did in his free time – without any justification or rationale.
“Big Brother” – the totalitarian institution running a surveillance state and overstepping its boundaries to infringe on your individual liberties- already exists. But unlike in Orwell’s famous dystopian novel 1984 it’s not the government, it’s our employers.
One time when I was working as a software engineer at a corporation I stumbled upon a job listing for a part-time instructor at a coding bootcamp. I thought it might be a fun side job to do after work, and so I casually mentioned that I was considering taking this part-time job to my manager during a 1-on-1 meeting. I only brought it up to make conversation, and I thought he might think it’s cool and maybe be happy for me.
To my complete shock, he seemed upset, and said “wait a second, you’ll need to get this approved by me. I’ll get back to you regarding if it’s ok or not.”
Thinking he’d misunderstood me, I said “hold on maybe I didn’t explain things well. This job would be completely outside of my work hours – I would only be working on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9pm. Thus it would not affect my work here.”
But he hadn’t misunderstood anything, he legitimately didn’t like the idea of me spending my free time tutoring aspiring engineers for some side money. Not only did he not like the idea, he felt that it was in his authority to dictate to me how I choose to spend my free time outside of work.
I ended up not opting for the job, but it was a sobering lesson in how entitled employers feel in controlling your life. And this is a relatively innocuous example – in most U.S. states your employer has full control to your intellectual property you create outside of work if it is any way related to anything your employer does. Although the spirit of this law may be well-intentioned, for massive corporations like Amazon that have businesses in a vast array of domains (eg. ecommerce, cloud computing, streaming, grocery stores), potentially any business you create could be deemed as a competitor to your employer, and be met with a lawsuit and take-down notice.
I was fired for my Youtube channel as well. But unlike in Tech Lead’s case, they didn’t even have the balls to tell me directly. They desperately tried to frame me into being an underachiever by tallying up my Jira points and claiming that they weren’t enough, and then firing me without even so much as a warning or a chance to rectify things. I only found out that they’d found my Youtube channel from a chance elevator encounter with HR, and then after I directly brought it up to them they all said “yeah we saw it. I didn’t have a problem with it, but someone else did.” (and I know exactly who did, he was an incompetent sycophant the same “rank” as me trying to eliminate his “competition” to solidify his political power and advancement because I was the only one willing to call him out on his bullshit).
Freedom of speech does not exist anymore because your employer can fire you for anything you say, without any need for justification. If this isn’t “Big Brother”, then I don’t know what is.
Getting fired wouldn’t be such a big deal if we had something like a Universal Basic Income that eliminated our financial dependence on employers. Unfortunately society is still too brainwashed into Stockholm Syndrome to their employers and pro-employer propaganda masquarading as “Protestant work ethic”.
Given the imbalanced power dynamic between employer and employee, there are two ways to kill the “Big Brother”:
- Remove dependence of worker on “owner” via Universal Basic Income
- Regulate away “Big Brother”, such as by making firing without valid justification illegal
#1 would be easiest to implement with the highest impact and guaranteed success, #2 would improve things but ultimately not be as powerful due to the continued dependence of the employee on the employer.
The Orwellian “Big Brother” is universally loathed. But people don’t realize that it’s not just a fictional concept from a dystopian novel or the Chinese Communist Party and their “social credit system”, “Big Brother” already exists and is prevalent in all American’s everyday lives.
“Big Brother” isn’t the government, it’s your employer. To the average unaware socially brainwashed citizen, this might sound like an exaggeration. But real people are getting fired and even blacklisted ( ) by employers, even for innocent things said or done outside of their jobs.
At this point we must either accept “Big Brother” as our supreme ruler, lord and savior, or decide that we prefer having liberty and freedom, going full force to obliterate and eliminate “Big Brother” such that it has no chance of ever returning again.
I’ll take the latter.