It's fairly common knowledge to those who have followed me for any length of time that for the first several years of my writing endeavors that I exclusively wrote under the pseudonym of The Rusty Goat. I've explained many times I felt the need to do so because of those early stories I penned about all those crazy women I was dating. It was a safety measure. I couldn't afford a bodyguard so I wrote under an assumed name. I really don't feel that any of those loony chicks would have brought me bodily harm...except for that preacher's wife, who intended to kill me there at the end but she inadvertently left her gun at home. But that wasn't because I was telling stories about her.
I haven't been completely honest, however. The women were only part of my decision to write under the pen name of The Rusty Goat. Just as some of you, I had an employer who felt the need to keep tabs on my activities off the clock as well as on. I worked for an agency within the state of Texas, perhaps the largest employer within its boundaries with the exception of Walmart. Given the nature of the job, I can concede there may have been some merit in their actions. When one accepts employment with the Texas penal system, one assumes some responsibility of professionalism. There are matters of confidentiality and there are matters that may compromise one's ability to do their job. With all that at stake, we as employees had to accept the fact that our employer at any given time might be stealthily creeping around our Facebook pages to see what we were up to on our free time. Hells bells, we could have former inmates poking us on Facebook, or their wives checking in to see how their incarcerated husbands are faring behind the fence. We could be dating their mamas. There are a lot of lonely mamas out there, you know.
And that, my friends, was the primary reason I chose to write under the guise of The Rusty Goat. Yes, social media can be used irresponsibly and has gotten probably millions of folks in hot water throughout the years. I'd wager old high school girlfriends is the number one culprit. I've been down that road myself but hey, I'm a single man and have no control over whether she confesses she's married or not.
It disturbed me to no end that somewhere in the state was an entire task force lurking through our social media tediously day after day in search of any infraction we may be guilty of. Unfortunately, the boundaries had been stretched beyond the original purpose of maintaining security within our department. Employees mysteriously disappeared after posting less than flattering comments about their boss on their Facebook pages. And...Oh, here's a picture of you sitting in your recliner after a hard day's work, wearing your uniform and drinking a beer. You're fired! It's much like they are standing on the other side of the wall with a drinking glass to their ear.
To be fair, we were warned at almost every staff meeting that there are eyes on our social media, and I had no problem, really. I just assumed an alias and went about my business. But I was prudent in my actions. Not once did I ever mention my employers in the ten years I published my work. Even in my books, if a character happened to find themselves in jail, you can bet the farm it happened in some other state. I refused to write anything that could get me in the hot seat with my employer should they discover what I was up to.
It's not so easy to control your social media accounts. With thirty-one thousand Twitter followers on my Twitter account, there is a good possibility there is a deviant or two lurking in the shadows. It's possible there is an ex-con or a drug dealer or even a murderer on my list of followers. Might even have a terrorist reading my tweets or Satan himself, who knows. But, hey boss, it wasn't me...see, that's some guy who calls himself the Rusty Goat.
As you might guess I am somewhat of a rebel. I am also a staunch advocate of the freedom of speech. It is the scales of balance for our nation. I question to this day the legality of an employer terminating anyone because they spoke out about their working conditions, or their unruly supervisor, or the need for a raise. Or time off...don't get me started on that. An employer who sees the need to scope out your children's pics on social media, or what you and your spouse did on that vacation that you finally got some time off for...I used the word 'creepy' earlier. That's not even a fair assessment. It's stalking, plain and simple. I suppose if one has an issue with that, the easy fix is to not have any social media or assume an alias.
There are companies who operate with the mindset that if you work for them, they own you. That's the definition of slavery in my opinion, not that anyone wants to hear my opinion. That is another story to tell some other time but I believe this topic falls squarely under that umbrella. My belief is that when I punch that time clock and walk out the door at five, what I do afterward is not your business, boss.
I've ranted myself silly. I have retired and no longer have to be the Rusty Goat. I can return to my Facebook page and post something, I've not that done in years. No, shaking my head, the State Gestapo may come after me anyway. They could probably take my retirement check away! This post may be all it takes for them to send in the swat team.
Naw, I'll just tell them The Rusty Goat wrote this. Me, I've been sitting here watching Netflix the whole time. I've got an alibi!