YOU NEVER WANT to be the main character on the internet, so last week was a bad one for Braden Wallake, last week’s main character of the internet.
Wallake is the CEO of the B2B marketing agency HyperSocial, and he was doing layoffs. Layoffs are not popular these days, and the people doing them even less so. But Wallake wasn’t making this decision lightly, and was deeply (and perhaps even earnestly) moved by it. But he then made his fatal mistake: snapping a selfie of himself crying about the layoffs, and posting it on his LinkedIn.
“I just want people to see, that not every CEO out there is cold-hearted and doesn’t care when he/she have to lay people off,” he said.
The internet, of course, was merciless. “LinkedIn is not a real place. This CEO laid people off and posted a picture of himself crying about the decision. I wish I was making this stuff up 😂😂😂😂,” wrote one Twitter user. “We need to shut down LinkedIn,” wrote another.
A lot of hate was directed Wallake’s way, most of it probably unearned and much of it meant maliciously. Making your employee’s layoffs about you is a bit cringe, and some ribbing is to be expected. Laying off your employees may make you look like a cartoon villain, but that’s sort of the job you signed up for when you became a boss.
But while many were quick to mock him, others saw a sliver of sincerity ― or whatever LinkedIn passes off as sincerity. As Shannon Palus at Slate writes, “I am inclined to have a little sympathy for Wallake. His business does not seem to be going great. Vice explains that he currently takes a salary of zero dollars, down from a stipend of $250 a week.”
In short, Wallake’s biggest problem wasn’t that he laid people off, or that he was sad about it; it was that he went on a website known for cringey posts and posted serious cringe.
“I submit the biggest reason we should all go a tiny bit easy on this dude,” continued Palus. “Wallake’s post is only slightly more embarrassing than your typical post in the LinkedIn news feed.” Kieran Delamont