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Reckoning With Ghosts of Social Media Past – The New York Times

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Send questions about the office, money, careers and work-life balance to workfriend@nytimes.com. Include your name and location, or a request to remain anonymous. Letters may be edited.

My social media presence from high school and college includes everything from photos of theme parties and Halloween costumes I now understand as cultural appropriation, to banter with friends in which we casually invoked racist or sexist stereotypes.

While I could dismiss this as youthful ignorance, it doesn’t change the fact that my behavior a decade ago was harmful. Would it be selfish to remove the evidence of my mistakes? Or would it be worse to have processed the toxic nature of these posts and allowed them to stay up? I am not seeking credit or absolution, but I want to do the right thing.

— Anonymous

When a public figure is taken to task for their social media history, I wonder why they did not do themselves the favor of cleaning up their online presence as their public profile grew. I am never sure if they are so comfortable with their past behavior that they don’t think it should be erased or if they are so clueless about how fame functions that they don’t consider the ways in which their past will come to light.

That said, you ask an important question. The short answer is: Clean up your social media. If there are people to whom you need to make amends, do so. You’re an adult now, so act like one. We have all made mistakes, and sometimes there is glaring evidence of those mistakes. You are doing the necessary work of interrogating your past and I commend you for taking responsibility and not merely dismissing your actions as “youthful ignorance.” You were young and ignorant, yes, but that doesn’t make the behavior less toxic.

You aren’t making some noble gesture by leaving your checkered past in plain sight for anyone to stumble upon. You aren’t hiding anything by deleting social media posts from a decade or more ago. By cleaning up your online presence, you are demonstrating an awareness that social norms change and that you, like nearly everyone, harbor or once harbored prejudices.

What’s important is taking stock of who you are and how you behave both on and offline, now. Do you hold yourself accountable for what you say and do? Do you hold the people around you accountable when they say racist or misogynist or other bigoted things? Do you advocate for marginalized people as much as you advocate for yourself? Flagellating yourself over your social media history doesn’t accomplish anything. Actions speak far louder than words. Do the work, every day, of being actively anti-racist and feminist. Forgive yourself for your past and honor a promise to yourself that you will never be that person again.


I manage two men who are younger than me. They have a lot of potential and a genuine passion for the work we do. But they won’t ask me for help. From their work product, it’s obvious that they struggle. They hide any problems from me until the last minute, and then turn in work that is far below my expectations. To work around this, I generally tell them that the deadline is a week before it actually is, and when they turn in a terrible first draft, I work through it with them. Or I just redo it.

Am I doing the right thing? How do I give them the confidence to ask me for help?

— Anonymous, San Mateo, Calif.

Your employees are grown-ass men in a professional environment. Stop babying them! It is not your job to do their job in addition to yours. Potential and passion are well and good, but competence is just as important. Mentorship is not synonymous with mothering. You are enabling their refusal to ask for help.

Be honest about what they are doing well but also how their work product is falling short. Establish a timeline for them to improve and identify consequences you follow through on if they don’t learn how to collaborate with you and produce better work. Make it clear (even though you already have) that you are not only their leader, you are also a knowledgeable and willing resource to help them become stronger and more effective employees. That is all you can do. If their masculinity is so fragile that they cannot ask for help and improve their work, I assure you there are other people on the job market who will not need to be work-parented. I do not say this lightly but if they cannot rise to the occasion, find employees who will.


I’m employed at a consulting organization. The founders are three middle-aged white men who come from family money. Employees are nearly entirely women, many of color, single and in their late 20s-early 30s. There are a handful of other employees, people of color, in their late 30s-early 40s with young kids.

Everyone’s salaries and bonuses are transparent. Performance reviews are done with care. The founders provide benefits linked to their values. But there is one major aggression — the founders LOVE white people activities like skiing, sailing, etc., and team building is centered around such activities. Lots of people don’t want to do them. It is seemingly impossible to move into middle management if one does not engage in these team building days.

What would be a good way to change this aspect of the culture?

— Anonymous

I cannot stand mandatory fun — any sort of activity or potluck or other gathering with co-workers that demands your presence either implicitly or explicitly. The expectation that you should work a rigorous schedule and also spend your free time with your colleagues instead of your friends and family is exhausting and ridiculous.

That your founders, who seem like decent guys, don’t understand that not everyone enjoys their very expensive, very white pastimes is willful. They choose not to understand why their employees may not know how or want to alpine ski or sail free solo or whatever because they can cosset themselves in that way.

I don’t know if you can change the culture at your organization — the founders are who they are. But you can be honest about the bias inherent in pairing team building and professional advancement with exclusionary activities that employees may not be familiar with or interested in for any number of reasons including race, class, gender and ability. Even if someone has already raised this, do so again, and suggest more inclusive team building activities. You might also mention how women, for example, struggled to advance in certain industries because of all the business meetings and networking that took place on golf courses and in strip clubs and bars after work when they were taking care of their families. (This is, in fact, still a problem in certain sectors.)

Your founders see themselves as good guys but there is room for improvement. If they are as aligned with their values as you suggest, hold them to that by demanding this very reasonable accommodation.


Roxane Gay is the author, most recently, of “Hunger” and a contributing opinion writer. Write to her at workfriend@nytimes.com.

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Snap to cut emissions, achieves carbon neutrality in new climate strategy

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Snap Inc on Monday announced a climate strategy to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, purchase 100% renewable energy and remain carbon neutral after offsetting emissions dating back to its launch.

The plan, which the owner of photo messaging app Snapchat detailed in its annual “CitizenSnap” report on social and environmental initiatives, comes as climate change debates include tech companies and the energy-intensive process of running powerful computer data servers has become better known.

By making the company more energy efficient, Snap could not only reduce costs in the long run, but also appeal to its mostly young user base, which is passionate about addressing climate change, said Dom Perella, Snap’s deputy general counsel and chief compliance officer.

“They’re going to be living with the brunt of these impacts for many generations,” he said. “Because it impacts our stakeholders… we want to make a difference.”

By 2025, Snap plans to reduce emissions generated from its business operations by 25%, in part by making its buildings more energy efficient and purchasing renewable energy, Perella said.

The company also aims to reduce emissions from business travel and from purchased goods and services by 35% “per unit of value” by shifting to climate-friendly travel options and pushing vendors to reduce their emissions.

Snap said it determined the reduction levels by working with the Science Based Targets initiative, a coalition that advises companies on reducing emissions to meet goals outlined by the Paris Agreement international treaty on climate change.

The Santa Monica, California-based company said it is now carbon neutral, helped by investing in forestry projects across the world to offset its emissions.

It also calculated its emissions dating back to Snapchat’s launch in 2011 and offset its emissions to become retroactively carbon neutral.

Other tech companies have also moved to offset emissions retroactively. Alphabet Inc’s Google said last year it had eliminated its carbon emissions history before 2007, when the company said it became carbon neutral.

 

(Reporting by Sheila Dang; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Britney Spears calls recent documentaries about her ‘hypocritical’

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Pop singer Britney Spears spoke out on Tuesday about recent documentaries about her life and career, calling them “hypocritical” because they rehash her personal problems while criticizing the media for reporting them the first time.

Walt Disney Co’s FX network and The New York Times released “Framing Britney Spears” in February. The documentary examined the singer’s meteoric rise to fame as a teenager, the ensuing media scrutiny and her widely publicized breakdown.And this month, the BBC released “The Battle for Britney: Fans, Cash and a Conservatorship” in Britain. It will debut in the United States and Canada starting May 11 via the BBC Select streaming service.

In an Instagram post, Spears did not name either documentary but said “so many documentaries about me this year with other people’s takes on my life.”

“These documentaries are so hypocritical … they criticize the media and then do the same thing,” she added.

In March, Spears said she cried for two weeks after watching part of “Framing Britney Spears”.

The BBC said in a statement on Tuesday that its documentary “explores the complexities surrounding conservatorship with care and sensitivity.”

“It does not take sides and features a wide range of contributors,” the statement added.

A New York Times spokesperson declined to comment.

Spears, who shot to fame in 1998 with the hit “Baby One More Time,” is in a court battle seeking to replace her father as her conservator. He was appointed to the role in 2008 after she was hospitalized for psychiatric treatment.

Her fans have shown their support on social media under the hashtags #We’reSorryBritney and #FreeBritney. Spears is scheduled to speak to a Los Angeles court in June.

In her Instagram post, which included a video of herself dancing, Spears said that “although I’ve had some pretty tough times in my life … I’ve had waaaayyyy more amazing times in my life and unfortunately my friends … I think the world is more interested in the negative.”

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Grammy organizers change rules after allegations of corruption

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The organizers of music’s Grammy Awards on Friday announced an end to the so-called “secret” committees that have led to allegations that the highest honors in the industry are open to rigging.

The Recording Academy said that nominations for the next Grammy Awards in January 2022 will be selected by all of its more than 11,000 voting members, instead of by committees of 15-30 industry experts whose names were not revealed.

The Academy was slammed last year when Canadian artist The Weeknd got zero Grammy nominations, even though his critically acclaimed album “After Hours” was one of the biggest sellers of 2020.

The Weeknd, in a Twitter post last November, said “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency.”

The Recording Academy said in a statement on Friday that the changes were significant and were made “to ensure that the Grammy Awards rules and guidelines are transparent and equitable.”

Allegations that the Grammy nominations process is tainted were made in a legal complaint filed in early 2019 by the former chief executive of the Recording Academy, Deborah Dugan.

At the time, the Academy dismissed as “categorically false, misleading and wrong” Dugan’s claims that its members pushed artists they have relationships with. Dugan was later fired.

American pop star Halsey, also shut out of the 2021 Grammys, last year called the nominations process “elusive” and said she was “hoping for more transparency or reform.”

Former One Direction singer Zayn Malik called in March for an end to “secret committees.”

“I’m keeping the pressure on & fighting for transparency & inclusion. We need to make sure we are honoring and celebrating ‘creative excellence’ of ALL,” Malik tweeted hours ahead of the 2021 Grammy Awards ceremony.

The Recording Academy on Friday also said it was adding two new Grammy categories – for best global music performance, and best Latin urban music album – bringing to 86 the total number of Grammy Awards each year.

 

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by David Gregorio)

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