This is a useful article which focuses on the lack of internal Codes of Conduct and community managers within organisations. Performativity in the workplace is a thing, and workplace chat tools can escalate those types of behaviours into new levels of toxicity.
People act differently online, and tools like Slack, while not expressly built to hook users, still make work feel like social media. Emoji reactions and replies provide the same validation as likes and retweets. “I don’t post online anymore because I don’t like being so public, but if I have something fun going on in my life, I will put that into Slack,” said Rebecca Levin, a Program Manager at research startup Maze. And as Ellen Cushing noted in the Atlantic, like Twitter and Reddit, discussions in Slack feel “categorically different, somehow less real.”
Online, everyone is engaged in a digitally-mediated performance. As Erving Goffman wrote, “We are all just actors trying to control and manage our public image.” And the pressure to maintain that image can quickly turn reasonable people into pundits. When news breaks, “there’s this feeling that if I don’t post about it on Twitter, I’m complicit,” said Charlie Warzel, co-author of Out of Office: The Big Problem and Bigger Promise of Working from Home. “You end up weighing in as if you’re some sort of public figure, despite the fact that you’re not.”
Slack emboldens the meek; compared to an all-hands, the ease of posting makes speaking up a lot easier. Anne Helen Petersen, Warzel’s partner and co-author, has found herself in that position, and sees it as a mixed blessing. The freedom is powerful, she said, “but it also opens a portal. It’s just more discourse, right?”
Leaders often treat Slack as just another tool. But as Godwin’s Law wryly observed, any extended online discussion is a Hitler comparison waiting to happen. “You’re creating a public room where people are empowered to talk back,” said Marketos. “If something starts to blow up in Slack, you need to have an amazing response that’s defensible if it’s screenshotted and shared with a reporter.” While few HR teams are experienced in rapid-response crisis communications, for community managers, “it comes naturally, and it’s very much an unsung part of their skillset.”