Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I recently had a weird experience at work. I work for a company that is based in Hong Kong and has offices in the UK and in Sacramento California. I am new to the company, and of course, am still trying to prove myself. Out of the blue - someone sent an email to everyone in the company accusing me of being a different Mike Jahn, one that has a racist blog and pod cast. It became surreal. It became hectic. I found myself scrambling, trying to figure out, how does one prove that you are not someone else - on the internet ? My wife was ready to call in the Marines. My boss wondered if he should hire someone to do a background check. The CEO was annoyed that we wasted 48 hours on this during a product launch.

My boss wrote this person, saying that racism was horrible (as I suggested!) and that this was a case of mistaken identity - but this person remained unconvinced. They were CERTAIN I was the same Mike Jahn on this blog and was the voice in this podcast. Incredibly, this person did not simply reply to my boss, but again, sent the reply to EVERYONE in the company suggesting they were wrong, that they were right, I was a racist and I was one in the same Mike Jahn.

After doing my best to demonstrate that I was NOT this other Mike Jahn, sending history, screen captures - this person disappeared like a fart in the wind. No comments, no apology, nothing.

I feel like someone painted RACIST on the front of my house, then hid. What is my recourse ?

I use my real name on blogs, as opposed to jahny6723 - and this is the thanks I get, some lunatic launching a smear campaign on the wrong person. What a wonderful thing the internet is.


James said...

Frustrating. Even if you're able to prove it's not you, your label will, for some period of time, be "Michael Jahn the not-racist guy", which is still negative.

I assume that this accuser is inside your company, and therefore has access to the company email list and could send such a thing in the first place?
It may be worth sending one last Reply All email which briefly states your anti-racism stance, any evidence to distance yourself from this other "Mike Jahn", and to suggest that that be the end of the matter. Take the high road and try weather the storm (if I may mix my metaphors). ;)
Chances are, the people in your company already know that the accuser is an idiot based on his choice of such a wide distribution list.
Good luck!

Michael Jahn said...

Hey Michael,

It's your other namesake. I got the same thing over on MY coast. The Mike Jahn you're talking about is a kid who lives, apparently, in Santa Fe. He has a site/blog/podcasr/whatever under the name jettandjahn as well as Facebook and Myspace pages. After his main FB and Myspace pages surfaced I got shocked email from colleagues, including a "I hope that's not YOU!" from a headhunter I had worked with in he past. My FB friends organized a campaign to get FB to take down his page. Apparently they did, the main one anyone. There still is an old and less offensive one that he doesn't seem to use anymore.

So that's the story. I went through all this in the Spring and Summer. Now if you search on FB you should get me. The profile pic at the moment has me chilling in an Adirondack chair.

You sent me something on Flickr that I haven't had the chance to look at. There was a piece about me in the NYTimes yesterday and life got hectic. I'll try to look at it now.

See you.

Mike Jahn (the grownup one)

Michael Jahn said...

I meant San Jose, not Santa Fe. You Westerners and your saints-name cities. :)

Anonymous said...

welcome to the intertubes ;-) where one can be anybody. Which is why i never make myself namely "visible" to the interwebs
- Another (grown-up) Michael Jahn, from Europe (another M.J. :D but directly decedent from THE Friedrich Ludwig Jahn)