There’s an article on MSN today about why you should not seek revenge if you’re slighted at work, written in extremely HR fashion lamenting today’s modern trend of fired employees to try to stick it to the man. I’m here to elucidate the issue because I, as a self-employed individual, am intimately aware of the working world.
To start with, the article makes many valid points. Yes, destroying your place of business is very much illegal. Probably. But is that the point? No. The point is far beyond anything the author, Eve Tahmincioglu, even touches on.
Everyone who reads this knows something they may have never vocalized but it’s at the core of my very existence. It’s why I am a columnist at Cracked.com, why I write for FunnyCrave, why I sit at my computer for 6 hours a day and rattle off screenplays and poetry and short stories and hilarious articles about sex with the elderly – the world is fucked.
No one is truly satisfied, not really. The modern world is awesome in a million ways – we have medicine and cool gadgets and sandwiches that have chicken instead of buns. As a species, we kick the shit out of manatees. They have jack on us. But for every awesome thing we do, we can never escape the little boxes we’ve made for ourselves. We’re always going to pay taxes, we’re never going to be able to just spend one day painting then the next day sleeping and the next day hunting buffalo. We’re free in the way free range chickens are. There’s still a fence out there.
Deep inside every human being is that general malaise, that discomfort in knowing that, for all our freedoms, the rules of society, and indeed, good sense, prohibit us from being completely unfettered. That isn’t a bad thing, we need that to live, but this isn’t based on logic. After all, it’s not logical that I quit my last job at a Staples by swearing over the store intercom and being walked out of the store.
People want to lash out and be crazy. As children we’re happy to run around half naked in the rain and yell and eat shit we find on the floor. We lose that as we grow older because we want to be considerate of others, and responsible and we plan ahead and we invest our money and we iron our shirts and try to watch trans fats and all those other things which oppress that screaming little voice in our head that wants to get drunk on a $5 bottle of hooch and smash some windows just because it seems like fun.
Breaking shit is fun. Explosions are fun. Michael Bay has a job because your have a reptile brain that tells you every dumb fuck thing he puts on screen is cool. And you can’t do it yourself, you can’t speed down the highway shooting at another car, but you want to. Sort of. God how you want to.
So in your button down, Fight Club world, when your boss decides to shit can you, your anger takes over for just a second and maybe you don’t set a fire, but you might erase a bunch of files on the computer. Or take them for yourself. Or cut some wires. Whatever. Of course it’s a bad idea, and it’s illegal, but that’s the point. That’s you feeling free and animalistic and paying homage to your angry, caveman roots. Back when we didn’t have walls and if we wanted to walk across the very face of the earth killing and eating whatever animals were too slow to escape us, we could.
It’s not hard to understand why people lash out, because we all want to. But we restrain ourselves because it’s better in the long run. Some people choose not to, however. They don’t take the time to weigh the pros and cons and they roll the dice and for some it probably pays off, and for others they go to jail and make love to a bald man for 10 years.
Employers need to appreciate this if they want to address this issue. Too long work has taken the place of schools in our adult lives, where we go from being powerless children subject to the whims of authoritarian teachers to being powerless employees at the whims of authoritarian managers. But that’s not how real relationships are supposed to work. And holding authority over people who feel they are responsible adults breeds severe resentment. If you don’t feel it yourself at work, think of the friends you know who do. Every person you’ve ever heard talk about how their job sucks, or their boss is an asshole. It happens so much we consider it normal. But it’s not. And the fired-employee vengeance is the backlash.
The world is full of disgruntled employees. HR people have their heads routinely in their asses and try to use half-assed methods of making work “fun” for throngs of disaffected people who couldn’t give a shit, if they care at all. So when it happens, don’t be surprised. There’s be a lot more employee vengeance before it stops.