Yes, Getting Fired on TikTok Is Now a Trend

Amid tech layoffs, remote workers are metaphorically packing up their desks online
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2024 5:20 PM CST
Getting Canned on TikTok Has Reached Trend Status
The TikTok logo is displayed on a smartphone screen.   (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

Remote work has made getting laid off from a job a lonely affair. As people virtually pack up their desks, there are no rounds of drinks from commiserating co-workers or a chance for personal goodbyes. Young workers are bridging this gulf, the New York Times reports, by streaming recordings of their discharge meetings on sites like TikTok. "The boundary between the personal and professional has been broken," Harvard economist Sandra Sucher, who studies layoffs, told the paper. People cite a range of reasons for posting such personal moments for the world to witness. For some, it's a matter of shedding the happy veneer social media often perpetuates.

"One of my resolutions for this year was to be a lot more open and honest with things I struggle with in my own life, so part of that is really showing parts of my life that may not be as glamorous," Folasade Ade-Banjo, a marketing professional who posted a layoff video on TikTok, told the Times. Axios describes the shift as a "sea change" in work culture. Where layoffs were once spoken about in whispers, there's less stigma around job loss, and people are showing you don't have to keep a stiff chin in the face of bad news. Mass layoffs during the pandemic also helped reduce the shame. "Suddenly layoffs became more normalized and understandable," said founder Roger Lee. "It wasn't anybody's fault."

The trend picked up steam on TikTok when former Cloudflare employee Brittany Pietsch chose to film her layoff from her desk and post it in January. The moment went viral—her video currently has 2.1 million views—as media picked up the story, eventually prompting Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince to respond to criticism of how the meeting went down (he defended the decision but admitted the company could have been "more kind and humane"). While some questioned whether this would hurt Pietsch's future job prospects, she stands by her actions. "I don't have any regrets," she said. "All I did was just be candid and show a conversation that wasn't scripted."

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Pietsch says recruiter emails are among the thousands of messages she's received since her video went viral. But experts say to tread carefully to avoid consequences. Johnny C. Taylor Jr. of business association Society for Human Resource Management warned that coming off bitter or resentful can be a deterrent to future employers. "You could win the battle and lose the war," he told Wired. He notes that laws around recording people secretly vary by state, and if the content is cut in a way that portrays the company wrongly, they can potentially sue for defamation. Erin Grau, co-founder of Charter, says this trend should also put companies on notice: "HR is the new PR." (More on TikTok).

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