Workplace transgressions and how not to deal with them

Sometimes I get drawn into social justice warriors’ proclamations of righteousness, worried that maybe I really am the crazy one, that perhaps some people really do need to be forced into acting decent, reminded not to harass or exploit their inferiors. Hierarchies will always exist and as long as there are people in power, there will be rude, abusive or downright dangerous characters sitting on top of it.

If we install, perhaps, a new order wherein there exist a few extra commandments such as “thou shalt not sexually proposition thy employees or co-workers” then the world may indeed become a better place.

That is, if we eventually evolve into some weird, obedient, androgynous, asexual, dystopian species.

For those who work in the bar and event industry, the following analogy may hit close to home. In recent years, it has become common to close down a venue for a few isolated disturbances stemming from it. The actions of a flea-ridden minority affect the lives and enjoyment of hundreds of others who may have worked or patronised the place, taken a break from their loneliness to breathe in the company of a tightly knit group of friendly familiar faces.

More and more restrictions get placed on establishments with the passing months. Because of one glassing, everybody must drink out of plastic cups like clumsy children. Because of one miserable grump of a neighbour, no conversations are allowed in the street after a certain hour.

This. Is. Frightening. Think about it.

Your legislation on flirting and correct gendering and “hate speech” is doing just that: affecting the lives of millions of perfectly normal people hooking up at work (often the only place they can meet like-minded people), talking about each other and expressing the wrong political view in public. Your violent protests against those who are simply speaking, regardless of what they say (unless it is a blatant call to violence), are only pushing for more authoritarian restrictions on what we can and can not do, until what time and using what tools. You’re pushing for more control over a population that you are part of but also clearly have an unhealthy distrust of.

I’ll grant you, a vast majority of said population is just about managing to clink a couple of brain cells around in their head caves, but to restrict their liberties because of the transgression of an even simpler-minded few would (will?) be an absolute disaster. Social life is our species’ bread and butter. People commit suicide and homicide from loneliness. We are hard wired to communicate with one another and that includes the odd awkward moment which teaches us to communicate more effectively.

If the most basic actions are increasingly policed, well, that beautiful process of self-education falls into the hands of a powerful entity which, no matter what ideology you subscribe to, will be populated by people whose only wish is to retain that power.

We are already letting machines choose our mates for us, what with the unfathomable number of people hooking up on dating apps. If finding love in your workplace becomes not only socially hazardous but also potentially incriminating, where else will your average schmuck go but to the fancy, cleverly marketed algorithm which promises to make all his dreams come true with one lucky swipe?

In a nutshell, I implore the people of modern times to deal with people as they are, and not bring authorities into a situation unless absolutely necessary. Keep issues at bay by contemporaneous communication – just like training a dog. Bask in that awkwardness and discomfort – you’ll come out stronger, I promise.

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