Check out this experiment, which shocked even me. Here is the description of it from Waxy.org:

A Seattle web developer named Jason Fortuny started his own Craigslist experiment. The goal: “Posing as a submissive woman looking for an aggressive dom, how many responses can we get?”

He took the text and photo from a sexually explicit ad (warning: not safe for work) in another area, reposted it to Craigslist Seattle. In 24 hours he received 178 responses, with 145 photos of men in various states of undress.

In a staggering move, he published every single response, including full names, phone numbers, and email addresses. Read the responses (warning: sexually explicit material).

So why is this on Brazen Careerist? Because among the many responders was a guy who used his Microsoft company email address. And included a naked photo of himself. Or at least a part of himself.

Casual sex on Craigslist is a lifestyle. Whatever. But the work email address. That’s another story. My first reaction was, what an idiot. But then I decided that it’s not that idiotic.

At this point in the history of the Internet, adults understand not to use their work email to send naked photos of themselves. Adults know this will come back to haunt them. So I am convinced that people who flagrantly ignore common workplace precautions are actually looking to get caught.

Guy Kawasaki addresses this issue on a smaller scale. He didn’t back up his computer, and it crashed, and a friend recommended he read Why Smart People Do Dumb Things. The four reasons people do stupid things apply to Mr. Kawasaki and Mr. Microsoft as well: Hubris, arrogance, narcissism, unconscious need to fail.

The question is, degree. If you are very [arrogant, narcissistic or in need of failure] you will do something very big and stupid. Most of us just do small stupid acts. I immediately recognized my problem as unconcsious need to fail. I wish I could say it was arrogance, because I think that might sound better.

But, as usual, understanding what motivates someone to do something stupid at work automatically makes me have more empathy and less judgment. Understanding peoples’ motivations is a good exercise to keep you evenhanded and compassionate at work — two skills that are essential to leadership success. And if it can work with Mr. Microsoft, it can work with anyone.

15 replies
  1. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    I’ve noticed that many business professionals, adults –especially babyboomers and older generation x who might be less computer literate–use their work e-mail address for everything.

    There’s a lesson in your posting for this cadre: use your work e-mail address for work related things *only*. Get a personal e-mail account for all other messages you might send (to family, friends, or responding to personal ads).

  2. Mysterious Traveler
    Mysterious Traveler says:

    Your post is one of the most insightful I’ve ready on the Fortuny flap. At a time when major financial, health care, and communications companies repeatedly lose control of the “personal information” we give them, and most states have no laws against pretexting to obtain someone’s personal information, anyone who answers a Craig’s List ad using their work email address has to be utterly oblivious to both risk and reality. (On the other hand, so does Jason Fortuny; the digital lynch mob seems to be forming.)

    As it happens, one of the “respondents” to Fortuny’s Craig’s List post is an old friend of mine. So I am watching this scandal with particular fascination. But, hey, if Clinton survived the Lewinsky affair in front of the entire nation, these guys’ll survive a few minutes of embarrassment with Fortuny.

  3. Dale
    Dale says:

    Penny,

    The lines between work and personal life are blurring at such a rate that it is not surprising to me that people will use work resources as if they are at home. I for instance am writing you from work. I spend most of my waking life here. It is the same for many, many people. In my humble opinion, I think that some folks get lulled into a sense of dangerous complacency much as animal trainers do with their animals, or drivers, etc. We are the worst judges of our weaknesses or faults.
    If you are around something too long without incident, you begin to take it for granted that it is safer than it really is.

  4. matchmaker
    matchmaker says:

    Just a guess, but I'd assume that the bubbles/holes were smaller because there was less protein. By using the powdered milk and water in a higher ratio than the powder specifies you get a protein concentration higher than that in regular milk. The bubbles are strengthened more by the added protein, thus making them bigger

  5. Ohne Schufa
    Ohne Schufa says:

    I am impressed how easy it is too get such informations and intim photos too! As you mentionend people are stupid (or not informed about the consequences) or maybe they do it on pupose. What ever I am again and again impressed for what the internet is good for and also a little bit scared!

  6. List Building
    List Building says:

    Perhaps, it’s because as children they were not recognized as being significant by their mother. And so they tend to overcompensate when approaching the opposite sex, because they need to prove that they are as physically appealing and even more significant than others. Someone should find out if these people have siblings and if perhaps a majority of them have older and younger siblings.

  7. image editor
    image editor says:

    jeez haha
    “a naked photo of himself. Or at least a part of himself” :D
    i really don’t understand people who send their naked pictures to someone.
    but on the other hand, without this arrogant, narcissistic people life would be boring :)

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