I wrote here a couple of months ago about the difficulty of walking tightropes. I’ve faced another similar challenging situation in recent weeks. It’s finding the right balance of doing my best in a professional, unbiased way as the community manager of a 20,000 member social network vs. knowing when to take part in discussions that can be very controversial in nature.
My first duty at work is to do what they hired me to do, so over the past more than two years I have avoided being involved in religious or political discussions that happen on that social network. I don’t want to do anything that might alienate half of the community I am charged with leading.
The difficulty for me, though, is when I have strong convictions about something from a religious standpoint. On the one hand, I want to take the impartial side of moderator and limit my involvement to making sure everyone follows the guidelines and respects the views of others. On the other hand, there are times when I feel like I can and perhaps should make substantive contributions to conversations out of my personal convictions, and that failure to do so is somehow hypocritical or cowardly.
It doesn’t help that my conservative Christian beliefs are not politically correct on all matters discussed and would be easy grounds for some to attack and to even use against me in jeopardizing my job if they wished. So my failure to speak up then makes me wonder if I’m being unfaithful in my beliefs out of fear for my job. That isn’t a good place to be.
I suspect that I will continue to take the corporate high road and do my best as moderator to manage the community peaceably since that is what I’m paid to do. But it is unfortunate that there is a present reality where those on the conservative right feel like they can’t speak their heart on some matters without fear of reprisal in what appears to be an increasingly hostile environment against such views.
Leap year lesson #226 is one I struggle with daily – Know when to speak and when to be silent.