The folks at the Harvard Business Review point out the natural ways that employees punish unethical behavior-often through social means like walking away from an unethical person or leaving the room when someone enters. Basically this means that when we know someone is a cheater, it is so distasteful that we don’t even want to be around them. But there is an exception, and it is revealing.
When we are willing to tolerate or overlook really bad behavior there is always a reason. Often it is because we are benefitting in some way. It may be financial, social, career advancement, etc. But the reason is revealing. If there is real evil in your circumstances and you are unwilling to take a stand against it, you can learn something important about character. The reason you won’t take a stand may reveal what you value most.
Here is something from the article:
“Unethical high-performing employees, however, appear to receive a free pass for their unethical behaviors. These people may be unethical, but they get the job done, and enhance the organization’s short-term profitability along the way.
“This is the case even in organizations that on the whole are considered highly ethical. In our third study, we took into account the organization’s ethical environment and still found the same pattern of results. Irrespective of the extent to which the organization prioritizes ethics, unethical high-performing employees still had better working relationships with their peers and were less socially rejected than their unethical low-performing counterparts. There’s something about being a high performer that appears to mask concerns related to immorality.”
One of the deepest diseases of human nature is lying. And I am talking about something far more subtle and destructive than bearing false witness to a teacher or police officer in order to get out of trouble. One of the darkest elements of broken humanity is to lie about who we are. To create a false identity and then try to maintain it. The need to hide our pain and sin behind a mask of smiles and virtue.
The word hypocrite comes from the Greek word for a person that wears a mask. It originates with the Greek theater, where actors wore masks to disguise not only their identity but even the sound of their voices. A hypocrite is a kind of actor that pretends to be someone they are not. Traditionally this concept has been reserved for people pretending to be moral, for example religious people, public leaders, or politicians. But the concept is broader than preaching abstinence while practicing indulgence. It includes those of us who stay in character once we have left the stage. The hypocrite is essentially an imposter. We are disgusted to find out that people we respect because of their public persona are actually using their image to cover up a life of corruption and debauchery.
Well, it appears that what was once reserved for politicians and the religious is now a growing temptation for the masses. Perhaps it was there all along. But social media has provided a window into the ubiquity of human deceit. This article in the New York Post discusses growing darkness that lies beneath the surface in social media. The author cites some extreme examples, but anyone with a Facebook account understands this. We are subject to two related temptations: To lie about our own life while believing and comparing ourselves to the lies that our friends are telling. This is no joke.
Maureen Callahan, the author of the article in the NY Post cites an example of Zilla van den Born. “Last year, she uploaded a monthlong series of photos taken on her travels in Southeast Asia — scuba diving, praying in a Buddhist temple, sampling local cuisine — then revealed those images were all the work of Photoshop. She had hidden in her apartment the entire time, duping even friends and family.”
Wow, how bad does life have to be to want to do this? For those of us old enough to remember the ancient world of 10 years ago, all of this is pretty frightening.
Technology is the great magnifier. It has the potential to draw out and magnify the dark side of human nature. And can do this by several magnitudes, all while maintaining the filtered image of a smile.
Here are a few important parts of the article. The whole thing is worth reading and very important.:
‘Mai-Ly Nguyen Steers, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Houston, has spearheaded a similar study [concerning social media].“The idea came to me when my little sister, who was 16, wasn’t invited to a school dance,” Steers, 38, tells The Post. “She told me about logging on to Facebook the very next day and seeing all these pictures of her friends at the dance, and that actually made her feel worse than not being invited.”
“Seeing Everyone Else’s Highlight Reels: How Facebook Usage is Linked to Depressive Symptoms” was co-authored with two other social psychologists and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology last year. Steers cited the work of social psychologist Leon Festinger, who, in 1954, came up with “social comparison theory,” the idea that we measure ourselves in relation to others’ failures and successes.’
Again Callahan writes,
‘Then there are those who aggressively seek out admiration and envy. Google “GoPro proposal” and you’ll get 428,000 hits — people who planned and recorded the moment they got engaged, then uploaded it for global consumption. Some couples live-stream it. Others stage-manage the “set,” then hire professional photographers to capture the moment.
“The engagement thing is so creepy,” says Chelsea Fagan, 26, whose website, The Financial Diet, covers the impact of social media on young women. “There’s this weird arms race now where everything has to be a moment, no matter how private. We always get a lot of responses with weddings and engagements — women spend a lot of money to look ‘Pinterest perfect.’ ”
It’s not just weddings or special events, though. Social-media users spend exorbitant amounts to look like their daily, everyday lives are spent eating the finest food, wearing the most on-trend designs, living a stylish, well-appointed life — no problems.’ (emphasis added)
A fascinating look at the Ashley Madison situation from Peter Jones and the folks at Truth Exchange. This little known detail is instructive about patterns of sin, the lies involved with temptation, and the guarantee of disappointment. Of all the 39 million users of Ashley Madison, less than 3% were women, and that is using the generous estimates. This sounds a lot like those crazy spam emails from desperate “women” around the world that are in my junk folder. The same thing just cleaned up a little, with a much higher price tag.
“Noel Biderman, the entrepreneur behind the company, claimed he was not looking for someone other than his wife. Hypocritically, while he and his wife made millions on cheaters, he claimed he was a devoted husband and father. She said she would be devastated if he were unfaithful. Not surprisingly, when the site was recently hacked, among the millions outed was Biderman himself, with emails proving he had used the site for multiple affairs with other women. The dissimulation continued, since evil has a way of multiplying its effects.
“Biderman stepped down from leadership, with the statement, “This allows us to continue to provide support to our members…We are steadfast in our commitment to our customer base.” You have to wonder what “commitment” means when the facts now show that of the 39 million “customer base,” only 12,000 of them, .03%, were real women. [Now a new claim of 87,600 women on the site is still only 2.2%]. It was all faked, meaning that virtually most of the millions of clients looking for “love” were men, with virtually no hope of actual “discreet encounters” with adulterous women.”
This article is interesting, disturbing, disappointing and a little humorous at the same time.
It is a fascinating look at how professional academics devoted to studying morality actually behave. Wouldn’t you expect them to at least try to be good people? Beyond that, there is the question of whether we ought to expect them to behave better than people who are uninformed about the subject.
The author asked his 7 year old son, and he replied: ‘The kids who always talk about being fair and sharing,’ I recall him saying, ‘mostly just want you to be fair to them and share with them.’ Interesting.
The author says he is the only one that he knows that has looked into this question in this narrow sense. That in itself is pretty tragic. By the way, Paul Johnson’s book “Intellectuals” does something similar from the perspective of history. A worthwhile book for sure.
It seems many professors are aiming at mediocrity, being just about as “good” as everyone else. I guess that helps to fight off self-righteousness. But they don’t mind telling the rest of us how we ought to live. This shouldn’t surprise us, because with few ideological exceptions, most modern ethical theories suggest that good and evil is merely a human social construction.
It seems that many pastors aren’t much better.
We should all remember that there is a very specific word in the English language for this whole phenomenon. It is called hypocrisy. And that label won’t fall off just because everyone’s doing it.