professionals & partiers

Apropos the Indiana Attorney General, Curtis Hill groping story; can we talk about our drinking culture and diminished formality in work world socializing?

1) In our drinking culture, over-consumption is the norm. That this can be dangerous and dumb is no secret, nor is it new. There is no longer any excuse for not knowing of its ills, but there are myriad excuses for its abuse, not the least of which is it having been designated a “disease,” aka outside the realm of one’s control. Can one own one’s own decisions, be master of one’s self? Should one be that as well? I say yes, or our collective existence as free-will founded, sentient beings is over. As for (over) imbibing in the context of this article: ALL professionals – young/old, bosses/subordinates – would be well advised to think long and hard before consuming excessive amounts of alcohol when in the company of others, especially in public, in particular amongst colleagues, as trouble – statistically proven over and again – follows when alchohol is in the mix.

2) The professional social culture has become too casually inclusive and lacking in boundaries of formality. As with the Curtis Hill story, senior professionals evidently deemed it acceptable to “party” (#1 door opened) with subordinates/employees/those they mentor, those they are, as a technical matter, training and instructing – teaching, for which they are – or should be – setting examples.

One might counter: what if others are getting trashed? Then, how about a callout for increased support for decisions to leave the scene? Saying “NO” should be viewed as a good, pro-active move by anyone, including as a feminist strategy. But saying “no” in today’s quick-click n swipe hook-up and consumption culture has become (mis-) interpreted as being deprived of or left behind or out, or at risk of not culling favor, even in a supposedly professional context.

If some formality were observed/re-instated in work world socializing, the creation of iffy scenarios would diminish, maybe radically. If casual, especially solo-participant, socializing is adjusted back to simpler, safer and more clearly boundaried levels, then skills and productivity would hold solid places as top value components for career advancement, alleviating pressure for iffy scenario attendance or participation by anyone. While employee handbooks grow ever thicker with rules and regulations, composed to protect both employee and employer, and while HR personnel have never been so critical a part of the staffing picture as they are now, in the end, personal choice founded on personal prioritization lies at the core of one’s story and the paths – gains, losses, wins and consequences –  that result.

Men and women must be equally cognizant of this: To be human, is to err. Mistakes are made – on both sides. Therefore, the simplest solution is for each one of us to hold our own selves accountable first – for our own sakes. Cura te ipsum.

I know this sounds old fashioned! But I believe this is sorely – and dangerously – lacking.

But, like separation of Church and State, I support some increase in the separation of professional lives just a little bit more from personal lives and personal life aka leisure-time activities. If career-connected socializing is called for, then how about it being framed with more specific parameters, with reasonable boundaries as to time, place and scenario, so that compromised behavioral opportunities are minimized?

While there will still be those who are truly egregious in their morals and behaviors, whose behaviors are and will be punishable by law, I believe a vast gray-area realm of iffiness would diminish, and significantly at that, by adapting more formal social scenarios from within the professional world.

Ditto, too, however, on the personal social front. Everyone would be safer and higher valued by self and all others if practicing more prudent consumption and increased selectivity in all social engagement. And yes, ladies, that most definitely includes all us women. We women need to support each other in practicing best personal choices if for no other reason than for personal safety. IMO, it’s is a sustainable foundation for self empowerment – and deeper, more profound attainment of personal happiness, joy and fulfillment, which remain far more complex, nuanced and intermixed with hard work and its achievements than popular culture purports, with which we, as consumers of Life, are inundated 24/7 via social media – our phenomenon, our albatross.

October 2018

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