How Not to Leave Your Job: What We Learned from a Former BuzzFeed Employee


What’s that expression about burning your bridges? Do it, right? Light everything on fire. Watch it all burn. Scorched earth policies work out well for everyone involved, especially when it comes to your career. At least, that’s the takeaway we got after reading ex-BuzzFeed employee Mark “Copyranter” Duffy’s post yesterday on Gawker, “Top 10 Best Ever WTF OMG Reasons BuzzFeed Fired Me, LOL!” in which Duffy made a handy BuzzFeed-style listicle relating all the reasons he got fired. Burn, BuzzFeed, burn!

Duffy, at 53, was by far the oldest BuzzFeed employee (and, in fact, had written before about how out-of-touch he felt at the company) but was clearly taken by surprise by the fact that he was let go, not least because BuzzFeed is a company that’s experiencing rapid growth, having gone from a staff of “under 100 to well over 400 during [Duffy’s] 18 months of employment.” And so no wonder Duffy was furious, right? It’s just a case of him being thrown under the bus due to his old age, isn’t it? Well, no.

Duffy outlined all the reasons why he felt like he’d been fired, and even though these reasons are presented in a way meant to appeal to the reader, they instead only make an airtight case of why Duffy should have been fired. Yes, Duffy did have well-trafficked posts at BuzzFeed (he “ranked seventh out of about 100 writers for traffic brought into the site. On average, [his] posts would place [him] in the top 15 as far as ‘viral’ traffic went”), but he also did things like constantly drum his desk (inexcusable!), is a self-described “asshole,” sent out “inapproptiate office-wide emails,” and, perhaps most egregiously, doesn’t even care about GIFs. All of this adds up to someone who clearly didn’t belong at BuzzFeed. Not because he was too old, but because he didn’t fit into the culture of the organization, an organization that never pretended to be anything other than what it is, which just happens to be a place that utilizes Post-Its saying “Cute” and “OMG.” Guess what? BuzzFeed isn’t for everyone, but that doesn’t mean its BuzzFeed’s fault that you took a $43,000/year pay cut to work there.

In a time when so many people are struggling to find work, and fighting to be paid for the work they’ve done, Duffy’s rant (and, yes, I get that ranting is his thing) feels completely out of touch with what it means to be a responsible employee. It’s one thing to take a company to task for unethical behavior, or for failing to deliver on professional promises made, but it’s another thing to go on a public tirade about a former employer who wound up just being a bad fit. The fact that Duffy even felt comfortable doing it speaks to a certain assumption of professional privilege that few other (mostly younger) people have ever felt. Good luck to Duffy, but it’s hard to believe that any place would feel anything but wary about hiring him in the future.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen







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