Okay, so if one of your employees calls you out publicly – using your Twitter account no less – for being, what was it exactly? Ah: “the most disgustingly morally bankrupt person I have ever had the displeasure of working with”, there’s a few ways you can handle it.
You can take the high road a la “it’s above me now” and not respond in kind but in gentle, forgiving and professional heart. You can take the low road and give as good as you got if not better, since they struck first, but you can strike last. Or, you can do what Jared O’Mara did and check out completely due to mental health issues.
In case you’re not familiar with this story, O’Mara is a member of British Parliament. On the 23rd, his former communications chief Gareth Arnold quit his job in spectacular fashion via a series of no holds barred tweets.
The aforementioned quote is just a sample of what Arnold had to say about his former boss. There were also accusations of incompetence, dereliction of duty, being uncaring and contemptuous of constituents, thank goodness Twitter doubled its character count, right? It was a lot.
But post Twitter-gate (number 4,001) the timing for O’Mara’s announcement that he needed a mental health break/check is suspicious as it came almost lock step with a 20-year-old woman who worked in his office accusing him of persistent sexual harassment. He says he did indeed tell her he loved her once, but it was actually the result of a delusional episode – the mental health thing wreaking havoc apparently.
For the sake of transparency, I did read that O’Mara has cerebral palsy and some other physical limitations for which British Parliament provided several accommodations. These could reasonably account for some work absences, etc. But I’m pretty sure his physical issues have nothing to do with him regularly – according to the young woman – making ‘“sexist, misogynistic and lewd comments” about other women including female politicians, creating an “increasingly toxic” environment in his office.’
What’s really interesting is that despite all this drama, O’Mara is ignoring everyone who’s urging him to step down from his position. How entitled do you have to be to think that you could continue to serve as a public servant after all this? This isn’t the first time this dude has come to the public’s attention in a less than flattering way. He was suspended from the Labour party in 2017 when a rash of sexist and homophobic tweets were discovered.
Maybe we should start giving politicians mental health tests before they take office? We could partner around the world to come up with a universal standard or measure. I mean, it’s not like other positions where a little crazy is acceptable, like actor or YouTuber or lion tamer. Politicians handle tax payer funded budgets and routinely make decisions that impact myriad aspects of human lives. Shouldn’t voters have some kind of assurance that the person they’ve elected is all there upstairs and not dodgy AF?
I don’t know. I’m not really being callously flip about mental health. It’s not a joke. It’s a serious thing that affects a ton of people in so many ways, and its various manifestations are often tough to treat. But the people who somehow make it into public office these days, leaning on some frankly trumped up mental health crutch to excuse their poor performance and bad behavior, has me shook. At this point, the only qualifications you seem to need for public office are a smile, a suit and tie, social media and enough cash to make the rounds shaking hands and kissing babies.
I gotta stop talking about this though. Prolonged political discussions make me slightly nauseous. Bottom line, if you care about your professional image online, don’t take your angst out on Twitter or any other social media platform. Not even if your boss is a complete wreck, you feel your anger is justified, and that you have some sort of obligation to help others in need with your revelations.
Now, in Gareth Arnold’s case, it seems to have worked. He wanted O’Mara out, and he is, at least temporarily. But when it comes to social media rants, past the age of 12 you simply should know better, and you should have better impulse control. Hell, even 12-year-olds get side eye for behaving this way. ‘Cuz after an episode like this, when you say “Good grief, grow up!” to an adult, it’s quite a bit more pathetic than saying it to a pre-teen, don’t you think?