So: Des Moines school superintendent Nancy Sebring resigned last week, which is normally the kind of thing that you, an affluent, college-educated, 18-to-35-year-old brand influencer living in New York and/or San Francisco, would ignore, because first of all, where even is Des Moines (Colorado, I think), and second of all, who cares.
Well, hot shot, I'll tell you who cares: you care, because Nancy Sebring resigned for sending sexy emails at work, and pretty soon you will too.
Sebring was forced out of her position because school district staffers discovered a bunch of emails she'd sent, from her work email, during work hours, to an adult man with whom she was engaged in a consenting sexual relationship. (They were searching through Sebring's mail over a non-sexual records request made by a reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, so if you only take one lesson from this story, it's that public employees should avoid, in their erotic correspondence, using any words that a reporter might base a FOIA request over.)
And first of all, we should make it clear that, as sexy emails go, on a scale of the Federalist Papers to Story of the Eye, these are, like, prime-time basic-cable sexy? "In one email," the Register writes, sternly, "Sebring admits looking 'periodically' at a photo during the workday, 'which gets my heart racing a bit.'" They're not weird or hateful or anything. They're basically very sweet, like she just read 50 Shades of Grey or something:
"I would NEVER have done with anyone else what I did this morning...but you make me feel very safe, very open and mind-blowingly aroused!! When I use my [SUSPICIOUSLY LONG REDACTION], it is NOT the same. There is a point, [REDACTED], that I absolutely crave a [SUSPICIOUSLY LONG REDACTION]...and I have to do without it. Today was like nothing I have ever experienced!!! All of the best of everything!!! I want to do it again!!! And, I am making a little mental list of other things I want to try...I hope you can be open to a little experimentation! (I'm saying this to a guy who sends me pictures of [REDACTED]!) It makes me [REDACTED] just thinking about this morning and mornings to come...I look forward to them all. And did I tell you I love it when [REDACTED]???
"Also, on another note, last night in bed I couldn't stop thinking about how exciting it was when you [LONG REDACTION] and [SLIGHTLY SHORTER REDACTION]... OMG, just thinking about it gets my heart racing!!! I will be [REDACTED] every time you see me from now on!!!"
I have been seriously missing you today...can't wait to feel your arms around me (and more) and hope we can be together again very soon. I think it's going to be difficult making the adjustment to more time and a longer distance between us, if this short trip to Colorado is any indication. I'm filled with nervous energy, which I attribute to being consumed by the desire to put my body next to yours with nothing but your tattoos between us and [REDACTED] until we have nothing left to give. Do you think about that? And I want to spend time with you just being friends, talking and learning more about you, and I fear that time is slipping away for those opportunities. I'm not worrying really, just wanting more of you at this time than you can reasonably give, so I'm trying to accept that and it's a bit of a struggle. I know it will work out, and I am feeling optimistic. At this moment however, all I'm really thinking about is that electric feeling when [REDACTED]s and [REDACTED]...it makes me [REDACTED] just thinking about it!!!!! can we do that again soon??? I had a fun idea today about something new to try...I'll tell you about it when we are together again...not sure what you will think of it... we may need to [REDACTED]. I'm warming up to the idea of a little performance for you, [VERY LONG REDACTION]...it will be fun and exciting!!! I promise!!!
School board president Teree Caldwell-Johnson says reading those emails "led to a feeling of: 'How dare she.' [...] I was disappointed, sorely disappointed." Oh, shut up, Teree. How dare she what, send personal email during work hours? Send personal email from her work email address? Send sexually explicit email?
Apparently, all of the above:
The district's technology policy forbids using school computers or email accounts for personal correspondence and also forbids the exchange of sexually explicit materials.
So, yes, it is easy to sit here, and say Sebring is crazy for violating her employer's policy, and arguably, she is. She should have known! She signed the contract! She only has herself to blame!
Arguably, however, it is completely crazy to expect people to restrict their work time, computers, and email accounts to work business. No one who uses computers regularly thinks of computers as special work tools for doing work; they think of them as extensions of themselves, especially in the case of professionals who are more or less "on call" at all hours and carry with them an employer-issued smart phone of some kind.
And all of you do it. Maybe none of you hit the "sexy email/work email account/work computer" trifecta, but all of you have sent a sexy email from a personal account on your work computer. Or a personal but unsexy email from your work email account. And all of you spend lots of time on your work computer doing personal things, like, for example, right now.
(Maybe your company's technology policy is slight less stringent about this stuff, though probably not by much. Go check.)
Unfortunately none of that really matters. However you think of and treat your work computer and work email account and work phone, your employer thinks of and treats them as his (or her) property. (Also your work smartphone!) And, wow, it is really easy to keep track of everything that happens on an individual computer, right down to the stuff that's being seen on the screen. So, literally, nothing you do on your work computer — even if you have and use a personal email account! — is private or secret. Your employer has probably already warned of this fact! You employer is probably reading this post along with you right now.
And even if he or she isn't, you are crazy if you think your employer isn't, right now, looking into ways to more closely monitor your computer and internet use to increase productivity, and you are similarly crazy if you think that pretty soon most or all employers won't have a pretty good idea of what you're doing on your work computer and phone at all times. So even if you, say, create your own personal Gmail account in order to send your boyfriend this not-safe-for-work picture of Skrillex fucking a My Little Pony to your boyfriend from your work computer, your boss will know about it! And it will be really stupid and unfair and arbitrary, but you will be forced to resign. Just like Nancy Sebring.