Terminated By Text: Cowardice or Convenience?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A discussion about terminating personal and professionals relationships by mobile/cell phone texting.

Terminated by Terminated by Text: Cowardice or Convenience?

An art supply chain in Australia goes into administration and its shops all over the country are closed. The employees are notified by text they no longer have a job. Everything seems to be going well in a relationship for months. Out of the blue they text you to say it is over. In employment and in friendships/relationships, using electronic means such as the mobile (cell) phone text message (SMS) has become the culturally accepted way of breaking off professional and personal relationships. While overall across the world it is not illegal, it is considered bad manners, hurtful and rude.

People though enjoy its convenience and the ability to punish others without, usually, a consequence. While this essay does call for people and employers not to do this practice, it is understood that some see no problem with doing this. I ask, is breaking up by phone texts cowardice or convenience? The job and personal relationships are the focus here because they are central to our lives. Before the internet, people sent ‘Dear John’ breakup letters, so this practice has existed in some form before the internet. While not blaming internet and other technologies, the temptation to not face the person is in this era has become a far more tempting practice to do.

It is obviously convenient in many cases to terminate employment by text. If the workforce is very large, it may be the only practical way to do so. Yet the sense of coldness and rudeness leaves people devastated. In most industries, the employment market is difficult with scarce jobs. Leaving someone financially insecure and unprepared for finding a new job is cowardly. It can be argued that modern business is fragile in the world economy. This is accurate, but employers may have the attitude to just send a text to terminate someone’s employment and the problem is solved.

A justification for employment termination by text can be if the employee is violent or has done some form of misconduct in the workplace. Nevertheless, it is a sign of a lacklustre and unprofessional approach to employee relationships by employers. In the legal case of Martin v DecoGaze Pty Ltd, it was deemed fair to text the final decision to the employer. However, in that case, at least a phone conversation took place as to why the employee was being terminated. That is not cowardice. Just dismissively texting without explanation for termination is cowardly if it is done with scant regard for an employee’s personal welfare. Employees do misbehave and may not perform well in the job, but the switch from personal face-to-face discussions to blatant termination because the employer does not want to face the employee is cowardly.

The second form of cowardice that is the breaking up of relationships and friendships. For example, the dating web sites and phone apps have become impersonal ‘meat markets’ based on looks. That does not mean genuine relationships do not form from them. The ‘swipe left right’ culture means it is easy to dismiss a person based on limited information. Dating, and platonic friendships, have always been this way, but the internet has added a new layer of shallowness.

To be dumped by text is cowardice and convenience. If the other person is abusive or violent, either texting them to stay away or not answering them is reasonable. People will complain they do not meet anyone decent, yet casually disposing of people especially if the dating or friendship has gone on for a long time is cowardly. One argument is that people are shy and do not know how to handle contact. They may have avoided going to places where the person would be and would not answer the telephone.

People want explanations for being dumped. If someone can gain constructive feedback and criticism that is a rare bonus. Dating and friendship are hit and miss, that’s accepted. Fairness, though, seems to be playing less of a part of manners in the internet age. Learning about the type of person you do not want to associate with is not undesirable. Watching for ‘red flags’ or bad behaviours you dislike is certainly wise in choosing to be with someone. But manners are vital to have. Breaking up by text is cowardly, especially if it is the case that you just do not care about them. They deserve better if they have been deluded by the other to think things are going very well.

As a society, we do the practice of dumping people in any relationship by text or ignore them. Yet concurrently, culturally this is seen as more of a cowardly act to do. The internet age where the screen and keyboard encourage our ability to be cold, mean or take revenge has long been a part of its landscape. Human nature is complex when it involves dating. Some may say with both employment and relationship termination, it is not a problem to be terminated by text, just ‘move on’.

Clearly though, experiencing hurt by being dumped is natural. The finality of it without feedback can be devastating. There are victims. The mobile phone and the internet are the platforms through which these interactions take place. Yet the lack of empathy for termination is a concern. Not just in academic studies, but a Google search for articles will yield many websites that view being terminated as a cultural and moral transgression. People might say it is the way of the world and be more resilient, but I wonder what their true reactions are when they experience this.

Cowardice and convenience may be the go-to for people to break up with others and terminate another’s employment. Like many internet issues, you have a choice to respond to it as you choose. But I am not convinced that being terminated is always something to be dismissive of. It can, and does, hurt, and is another downside to existing in the virtual world. Then again, there may be a time when it is us that does the termination. Perhaps sometimes we do have a good reason to do this.

Submitted: October 28, 2020

© Copyright 2020 michaeln. All rights reserved.

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Back in Black

Dumping by text is for sure the cowards way out...much harder to deal with folks face to face. That's why they don't do it.

Fri, October 30th, 2020 8:19pm

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