“Dooced” Anyone?

By Harold Stearley At Earthwalking

I had grown a bit weary of my current job in the legal profession, so I thought I’d back track and check out the market in nursing.  After all, all of my colleagues had remarked, at one time or another, that I always had my first career to fall back on.

And, I was excited because I found a job where I thought I could put both my nursing and legal expertise to work as the director of nursing for a long-term care facility.  The hiring manager was even more so excited when he reviewed my resume.  It was the fastest phone call I ever received in response to an online job application.

My interview was set for just a few days away, but by the time I arrived at the facility, something drastic had changed in the way I was treated and by the demeanor of everyone I encountered in the building.  I was shuffled off to a dark conference room and told to wait.

When the manager arrived, some twenty minutes later, he pulled a bait and switch like I had never encountered before.  I guess technically, it was more of a switch and remove the bait completely as it became clear I wasn’t welcome at this institution in any capacity.

The manager started off the discussion by saying he couldn’t understand why I had applied for the position.  I’m sure I had a very perplexed look on my face as I explained how I thought I could bring both my expertise as a nurse and my legal background to bear within the position as director.

That’s when the switch occurred.

The manager then said, “Well, we only have a supervisor slot open in the housekeeping department and you are way over qualified for that.”  I redirected him back to our prior phone discussion about the director of nursing position and he denied that the conversation had ever occurred.

So, I flipped the script and asked him, well, why did you want to interview me?  What about my resume interested you?  He admitted it was my dual career background, especially being an attorney.  Of course, that just didn’t fit with his previous statements about this newly imagined supervisor of housekeeping position, and we both knew he was lying about how the director’s job mysteriously evaporated.

When I got home, I double-checked online, and sure enough, the position for the director of nursing was still being advertised.

So what the hell happened?

About ten years before this event transpired, I had hung up my hat on writing health care editorials.  I had been getting published routinely in the local newspapers, in a major city’s editorial column, and I was a columnist for a quarterly nursing journal.

I had always supported my commentary with research published by physicians in their favorite journals – The Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, The New England Journal of Medicine, The Annals of Internal Medicine, and The American Journal of Psychiatry – to name a few.  And my editorials were a bit critical of the profession.

My employer at the time was not happy with my writing but they were a government organization and they had to comply with the Constitution’s free speech provisions – they couldn’t terminate me for exercising that right.  But that doesn’t mean they were obligated to rehire me after I left, or give me a stellar reference, even though all of my employee evaluations were golden.


No, a seemingly ancient, ten-year-old legacy of management’s dislike for the truth bearing my byline had come back to haunt me in this present job interview.  It was a small community, and resentment had been burning for a long time.  A slow burn had just exploded into a wildfire!  And I have to say, I had never been outright lied to in such a fashion ever before.

Not ever.

This time period had overlapped with the expanding universe of social media, one I was initially avoiding for just this reason.  I didn’t want people prying into my private life or having the past affect future employment prospects.  And while some people may have forgotten, a new phrase had just emerged for when a person gets fired for expressing something in the public domain on social media.

It was called getting “dooced.”

It seems a young lady, who was using a pseudonym, was fired from her job for having put some satirical writings out on her personal blog called “dooce.com.”  This content-related, speech-based termination seemed novel at the time and provoked a lot of discussion, but it’s pretty routine that employers check out an applicant’s web presence now before hiring them.  And they continue to monitor that presence for anything they may perceive as being negative towards the organization and will base future HR decisions regarding your employment upon what you’re putting out there in cyberspace.

And yes, you can lose your job over expressing your opinion online.

So here it is, almost 2020, and I’m perusing the Net this morning and I see an article about hiring a “reputation manager.”  It would appear that the overt discrimination against people expressing their opinions about social or workplace issues, or their sharing just plain too much off-color information about their personal lives, has spawned another industry in good old America.

You can hire someone to clean up your social media mess.

Yep, and not only eliminate anything that could be perceived as being negative, like those drunk pictures of you printing out pics of your ass snapped on the company copy machine, but they can “enhance your online visibility as a job candidate.”  They can polish you up to be the ideal candidate for the job.

Make you shine like the Sun 😊

And don’t think that you can just eliminate your web presence to prevent any potential backlash.  It seems employers now regard an absence of web presence as being a big check mark against you too.  It’s just not natural to not be out there in cyberspace somewhere.

Other employers have adopted other practices that I think are even more extreme, like having you take a personality test as part of the application process.  They just want to make sure you’ll be another walking, taking automaton to complete the yes man (or mam) circle, repetitiously droning on and on the corporate mission statement.

Move along, move along.  No independent thoughts to see here.

It’s definitely something to keep in mind, least you be dooced, or miss out on a new position or promotion and not even realize why.

Ah, another reason I love retirement.  I’ve got my voice back 😊

Have any of you experienced this type of workplace discrimination?

Feel free to chime in, and remain anonymous if you need to.

In Metta


Photo: I struggled a bit with picking a photo for this one, and who knows, maybe I’ll change it later.  I looked back at pics of myself at various stages of my employments during both of my careers.  I decided to run with this one during my legal career, at a library where I was conducting research.  I “solarized” the image to blur and distort it – much the way the law seems distorted regarding public and private matters and our ability to express ourselves freely in any forum 🙂


Survey Highlights a Key Consideration Before Applying For Your Next Job

Heather Armstrong

History of Firing and Terminations Because of Social Media


20 thoughts on ““Dooced” Anyone?”

  1. There are so many ways employers can make sure we do not voice anything in the least bit criticizing. An unfortunate but true reality in these changing and also stagnant times. I am not retired yet and have to mind my ps and qs, but it is frustrating, especially since I tend to speak out at perceived injustices. Sigh. I am happy for you, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Working for a church I always understood that I was to back the minister but that did not include the council who could come up with some crazy stuff. Since I didn’t have to work at all I was the sacrilege for any staff issues that others were afraid to bring up. Eventually they did get tired of my speaking up and I’m sure it was part of my becoming “redundant.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My daughter won an essay contest in ninth grade, about a controversial issue, and she has since switched her position on the subject. She worries that since it’s online, it will come back to haunt her at some point

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There was another time when I was being given a job offer and I was asked about a previous blog of mine on Google back during Iraq War #2. My daughter was stationed over there in the Army and I posted some pretty heated stuff. The job offer was given to me but it sort of went like this: Future sort of one of many bosses – “Remember that blog you used to write?” Me, surprised, it had been a long time ago, “Oh gosh, well you know that was the product of a worried parent with his child in the war zone. I took it down completely about three months into writing it.” Boss guy: “Well you know, as long as you’re working for us, we don’t want to see anything like that again.” Me, “Not a problem here, it was foolish of me to write it at the time. I won’t be repeating anything like that.” Boss guy – “Good, let’s talk about salary then . . .”


    1. It is strange. Back when I was writing my editorials the hospital’s attitude seemed to be that they didn’t mind that info being in their own journals, but they didn’t like the public seeing it. Crazy, it was the medical community’s own research


      1. LOL! Yes indeed! There is one employer here in particular who wants nothing but sheeple. When I worked there I used to joke that management was taking up a collection for my lobotomy 🙂


      2. Hehe! I bet. Intelligence is not a good thing as far as their ego is concerned. Did you ever read ‘The Dumbing Down of America?’ What is scary is that we’re seeing evidence of it all around us. God help us!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Incredibile!! So this isn’t a story that began these days!

    Thank you for sharing Harold.
    At least you’ve found your way out even wothout getting that job position.

    I wonder if all of those who didn’t hire me had a similar reason.
    Not having a huge social profile, or being too socialy.

    Liked by 1 person

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