Social media may be too real for your own career’s good

What does your social media use say about you? In many ways, what one posts to social media can reveal more than you want — about you and potentially your employer.

No doubt, what one writes on Facebook and posts to Instagram points to what you think matters, what you aspire to and your tastes in clothes, cars and friends. But it can also reflect your true self, the authentic you and in the process offer a cathartic escape from mundane and rote niceties one must traffic in at work. And that can be a career killer.

Take for instance the recent news out of Yale that one of the university’s college deans let her acerbic wit run wild on Yelp when delivering restaurant and other reviews.

Here is what June Chu, armed with a PhD in social psychology from UC Davies, professes to as dean of Pierson College: “to help students not only succeed academically but to support their holistic academic experience and multifaceted identities.” All this sounds very supportive and the virtues of a gentle mind. In other words, inauthentic academic babble that deans are required to parrot if they want a job and not find themselves socially isolated in the hyper-sensitive university campuses of our modern times.

For a sense of what the hypersensitivity entails, and its underlying postmodern ethos, one need only listen to University of Toronto’s Prof. Jordan Peterson.

When Dr. Chu wasn’t putting on a facade at Pierson College, she was “June C” on Yelp, tearing into bad dining and other experiences. When she received under cooked rice, she brought it to the attention of a restaurant’s staff. They asked if she was sure it was under cooked. Her response: “I am Asian, I know rice.”

“June C” visited a Japanese restaurant and opined: “To put it quite simply: if you are white trash, this is the perfect night out for you!” She noted the staff were Chinese, not Japanese.

The good Dean abhorred how inauthentic the restaurant was and suggested the “Japanese” restaurant was best suited to “those low class folks who believe this is a real night out.” In other words, people who can’t discern between Chinese and Japanese. Topping the Japanese restaurant review was the Yale professor’s opinion of the staff at a movie theatre she ventured into, complaining about the poor service delivered by “barely educated morons trying to manage snack orders for the obese and also [trying] to add $7 plus $7.”

But the best was yet to come, when an owner of a lawn care firm and “June C” had a little tiff and the owner suggested “June C” could have called him to resolve the matter. The owner wrote “Sorry it was above you to make another phone call?” To which “June C” commented: “Talk about a dick response from someone who is supposedly soliciting work.”

So we have a Yale professor, with a PhD from UC Davies, who specializes in social psychology (that branch of the science that deals with social interactions and all their implications for individuals, cultures etc ..) decrying a restaurant that can’t cook rice; another that pretends to be Japanese; theatre snacks that contribute to obesity; the innumeracy of the minimum wage staff likely to be working the tills, and what she deemed poor service from a lawn care firm.

Sounds like an elitist view of the world shaped by the pedigree of her academic stature, her dismay at what passes as acceptable in some restaurants, frustration with young folks who have not taken the time to learn math, and service standards that don’t meet expectations.

As abrasive as it sounds, her social media reviews on Yelp appear very authentic indeed. “June C” is real, and true to her biases and social status. You can almost feel her breaking out of the chains that keep her inside voice inside when at work.

When Yale administrators got wind of Dr. Chu’s sideline social media posts on Yelp, they were not amused. Indeed one official described them as “deeply harmful to the community fabric.”

The sharp-tongued “June C” soon vanished from Yelp, and Dr. Chu confirmed her daily career vows by eating a big piece of humble pie, saying: “There are no two ways about it. Not only were [my Yelp reviews] insensitive in matters related to class and race; they demean the values to which I hold myself and which I offer as a member of this community.”

I can’t imagine “June C” would think such a thing. But one can understand that Dr. Chu must, if she wants to keep her job.

Lux et Veritas (Light and Truth) is Yale’s motto. The irony is rich.

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