Jacques Hyzagi’s viral ELLE On Earth article is the kind of epic takedown we all wish we could hurl at our bosses on those really bad days at work. But it’s also the kind of thing we’d never write because we actually need to keep working. In its attempt to air the dirty laundry of the fashion media, ELLE On Earth plays dirty. And not just vaguely offensive. It gets downright muddy and pulls up all the weeds at their roots.
If you haven’t read the Observer piece, it’s a must read. Trust me on this. In a nutshell, Hyzagi landed a coveted interview with Comme Des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo. But thanks to the inner workings of ELLE magazine and the rise of sponsored content, Hyzagi alleged that ELLE completely butchered his work without his consent. The final published piece was, in his words, “bland, milquetoast, uninformative, safe above all, boring.”
He details how difficult ELLE editor Robbie Meyers was to work with. And how untalented the magazine’s top news editor Anne Slowery is. And how boring New York Magazine is. And how cheap The New York Observer is. And how the New Yorker got their original piece on Kawakubo completely wrong. This isn’t just an exposé about one incident at ELLE. This is an attempt to publicly shame an entire industry.
I have to admit that this guy has balls. Hyzagi is someone who has chosen to go viral at the risk of possibly ending his career. But just in case you got any bright ideas from this epic stunt, let me caution you. This is a master class in how not to quit a job (or an industry for that matter). Judging by how secretive and cautious he was in his follow up interview with The Guardian, his quest to go rogue hasn’t worked in his favor. And believe me, if you decide to send your career up in flames, it won’t work well for you either.
1. Don’t publicly shame your boss. Just don’t.
We’ve all been there. You know, you’ve had one of those days where you’ve fought with your boss, and you’re ready to let it all hang out on Facebook. But someone that knows your boss is also on Facebook. And trust me, if you’re good at what you do, someone is always trying to take you down. It’s only a matter of time before word (and screenshots) make their way back to the office. Next thing you know, you could be in hot water. And worst case scenario, out of a job. Which is something you surely weren’t prepared for when you pressed Post.
2. Don’t publicly shame other people’s bosses. Or anyone in your profession, really.
While there are millions of places to work, many industries are tight knit. Everyone knows everyone, and news travels fast. Once your very public rant about your boss or a peer goes viral, everyone will know. After you get your pink slip and hit the pavement to find a new employer, the rest of your industry may not be so forgiving. What may seem like one burned bridge to you could end up being a multitude of burned bridges that leave you stranded on a jobless island.
3. Share your grievances with people you can trust.
The phrase ‘people you can trust’ is not defined as the entire Internet. Phone a friend. Use any lifeline that doesn’t include oversharing with the world wide web. When we take to social media to share our anger over something at work, we’re often doing it in the heat of the moment. Take a beat. Talk to someone who will listen to you whine and vent for as long as you need. And keep using Facebook for what it’s really for: sharing cat videos.
4. Think about how your actions will impact your future.
Every decision we make at work obviously affects our professional possibilities. But what we do online affects them too. It seems like someone is losing their job over a crazy (racist, misogynistic, violent, etc.) Facebook post or tweet on a weekly basis. If you think it can’t happen to you, you are so wrong. Hyzagi is a journalistic vigilante that clearly has no intention of ever working at any of the industry’s top publications again. I highly doubt you’ve decided not to work at any of the top companies in your field. However, if you decide to publish a vicious rant akin to ELLE On Earth, you’ve already made the choice whether you did it consciously or not.
5. Um, go back and resolve your problems.
One way to avoid this entire situation is to behave like an adult and address your concerns with your boss. Sure, it feels good to vent. But you can’t navigate the rest of your professional career by fleeing every time something goes wrong. Go back and have a mature discussion about your disagreement. Outline ways that you can achieve compromise. Discuss what’s upset you and pave the path to a solution. Because, odds are, you need a job. I mean, where else can you get paid to post to Facebook all day?
I take it that you already knew these things. Because you’re a smart guy. You know how to handle yourself in the workplace, and you’d never publish a smear campaign like this in a public space. But just in case you forgot, use ELLE On Earth as a cautionary tale. It’s a wild read for sure. But if you put yourself in Hyzagi’s shoes, it’s one ride that’ll change your life for the worse. Forever.