Wednesday, May 13, 2009

paigeewaigee is...

still trying to make sense of it all; but promised to write a blog entry about the incident.

As posted to my Facebook profile last Thursday, via Twitter, I "learned a very hard lesson today: never, ever trust anyone. That includes "friends."

When I joined Facebook last Spring (as a way to see photos of a dear friend's new baby boy), I determined to use the service for pure social reasons: reconnecting with old friends from high school; staying in touch with friends who are geographically distant; keeping up with the local social scene; sharing photos and quick updates with family near and far; etc.,.

I work in a field that all but requires socializing with colleagues. Politics is built on a foundation of personal relationships and connections, and the line between "colleague" and "friend" is faint and distorted. Still, as my "friend" list expanded to include friends who are also work colleagues, I adjusted my privacy settings to allow only limited access to people who work within the legislative process - with very few exceptions.

Further, I blocked all Members who requested "friendship" through Facebook. While I socialize with many of my fellow aides and many lobbyist peers, "socializing" with Members - especially via a social networking website - is dangerous territory. In fifteen years of work in politics, I have learned "Members are not your friends." Period.

So, now, back to last Thursday. I posted (via Twitter) a status update that was critical of an Office in the Florida House, for good reason. Said Office is designed to provide clear, concise, accurate information about pending (or enacted) legislation to Member offices (and the public, the media, whoever...). Quickly.

However, when I called Said Office, identified myself as the aide to Representative So-and-So (information they should know, by the way...just sayin'...) to request information for responding to a constituent inquiry, I got the exact opposite of the service Said Office is supposed to provide. This is a pattern. Said Office is, as I stated in my status update, useless.

The five-word status update (posted during a break using my personal crackberry) did not name any names and did not include any detail. Ahem.

Somehow, despite the fact that my legislative "friends" are prohibited from seeing any status updates and links on my profile, that update made its way to the Honcho of Said Office who approached my boss...on the floor of the House...and raised hell. My boss directed me to remove the post, which I did.

This incident left me disturbed, upset, confused, mad, indignant and scared...on many levels:

  1. That someone I consider a friend, not a "friend" or just a colleague, would throw me under the bus. I do not know who I can trust anymore.
  2. That the Honcho would be so thin-skinned about something I (a minion) said, especially since the comment wasn't even about the Honcho. Politics is brutal and surely my comment is not the worst criticism ever received - either directly or indirectly. Maybe the Honcho is in the wrong biz?
  3. That the Honcho took up the cause of gossip (in the manner of true statesmanship) and immediately sorted to "defensive" and beating down the subversive instead of going to the root of the problem.
  4. That freedom of expression is a guaranteed right in our democracy and I did not waive that right when I started my career in legislative politics. I'm afraid that personal censure is now part of the lexicon of politics in Florida. Don't dare to criticize the powers-that-be.

Should I have been so reckless in trusting privacy settings on the internet? Probably not. But, I learned that I should not be reckless in trusting my friends.


Bitsy said...

Thanks, Paige. A good reminder for us all.

Laura said...

What a sad commentary.
You are in company with Miss California. Just express an opinion and get reamed for it.

So sorry, sweetie.

♥ Laura ♥

Keysgal@QuietWater said...

You know, I have learned to not put anything in writing anywhere that I don't want to have made public. You just never know who might take it and run. It's too bad this happened to you and I can understand your not wanting to trust anyone. It has really come to that and it is a crying shame. I learned a long time ago that you can't turn your back on anyone when it comes to politics (office) or otherwise. Love you.

Tom said...

Hi Paige, it's Tom Mabrey. I was worried something sinister had occurred so I am very reassured by your safety but angry about the situation. One of my biggest pet peeves is when any form of "service" believes it has somehow ascended beyond providing service and is now sitting in judgement of who and what kind of service they prefer to disseminate. I don't know if that makes any sense to anyone but me, but Urgghh anyway and I am happy you and your family are safe!

Anonymous said...

It's a "bitter pill to swallow" when a "friend" stabs you in the back. A hard, hard lesson to learn. As I get older I realize there are fewer people that can really be trusted and am thankful for the ones in my life that I can trust. Don't let it make you lose faith in the people in your life that are true. I am one of them!

Love you,

Aunt J

LMP said...

Maybe if Honcho of Said Office spent less time whining and more time effectively managing Said Office, Said Office wouldn't be so useless as to inspire public aspersions.

*pab said...

@Aunt L, Aunt J, Mama: it is sad that someone I consider(ed) a friend would do that; but, if it's possible, I'm more mad about the free speech thing.

@Tom: thanks for stopping in! Yes, I do "get" what you mean, and I agree.

@Lisa: word. you always got me, and I hope you always will. xo