A punchline that appeared in The Onion’s “American Voices” section, where (fake) people on the street react to the news, has stuck with me for nearly two decades. The headline topic in question read: “The FBI is considering relaxing their strict standards for past marijuana use among prospective agents. What do you think?” First answer: “I think it’s a good change. The FBI should be open to considering applicants who attended college at some point in their past.”
I say the time has come to apply a similar standard for overall hiring practices. Employers must step into the 21st century and rethink how they vet the social media of potential hires. They will fail if they cannot recognize a simple fact: All the best candidates have a history of shitposting.
It would be one thing if a company Josh was interviewing at discovered he’d made a legitimate threat of violence or destruction. It’s quite another for them to construe a throwaway complaint he posted about a store he obviously frequents as a statement of criminal intent. Even Whole Foods didn’t take it that way, and it’s not like they’re known for being chill! If you want to reject any applicant who has publicly expressed their frustration with a brand in jokingly exaggerated terms, you’re obsolete, and you have no place in the current market. Simple as that.
Human resources departments have forced us to take innumerable training courses — some helpful, others futile and a few downright insulting — to maintain our positions, pay and benefits. They can repay those hours of tedium by taking a class to develop their shitpost literacy, which is extremely lacking at the moment. Or they can sabotage their organizations with increasingly strict criteria for employment that weed out anyone with a sense of humor or dash of creativity.
The choice is theirs! But, to tweak The Onion’s gag slightly, you should be open to hiring people who have goofed around on the internet at some point. It’s not that hard to separate troubling opinions at odds with your corporate values from a winking comment on mundane affairs.
We won’t apologize for living our lives transparently. We’re going to talk casually to our followers — as friends — and if you insist on picking through those conversations, you can’t be mortified to learn that we’re like anybody else, i.e., human. The alternative is to sound like a bland, meek, inoffensive robot, and while that’s probably what you really want, fuck you for trying to find it. (Moreover, someone with an account like that, or no accounts at all, may be hiding a far darker secret. Ever think of that, genius?)
The upshot is this: Personalities exist, and kids born today will have a long résumé of shitposts by the time they’re old enough to work. You can’t reverse the tide of history. Adapt or die, you dinosaurs. Because we are never, ever logging off.