SYNDICATED COLUMN: Sheryl Sandberg is the World’s Most Annoying Person

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It’s that time of the year again: Sheryl Sandberg is telling us how to live our lives.

Invariably promoted as launching a “movement” — as opposed to shilling books — the Facebook executive’s publicity blitzes are impossible to avoid. There’s the inevitable, inevitably self-involved New York Times op-ed. (The words “I,” “me” and “my” appear 15 times in the first 143 words.) She’s in Time and Fortune and USA Today and The Washington Post and HuffPo, which tells us “Why Sheryl Sandberg Decided To Speak Openly About Losing Her Husband (uh, to sell books?).

As far as I can tell, the only media outlet not to be shilling Sandberg’s pabulum is ISIS’ online magazine, proving that terrorists aren’t all bad.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience” is the bestselling sequel to her bestselling 2013 tome “Lean In,” which is a bestseller because every media outlet is pushing it and advises women in the workplace to get ahead the same way she did: be born the child of a well-off medical specialist in a rich enclave, go to Harvard without having to take out a student loan, suck up to a future U.S. Treasury Secretary (who thinks women are dumb) while you’re there, snag an MBA, and become best friends with Facebook megabillionaire Mark Zuckerberg.

“Option B” is about her rich tech giant husband’s “unexpected” death, how she’s been coping and how she’s helped their kids cope.

First, a couple points of clarification.

Dude fell off a treadmill at age 47, possibly due to cardiac arrhythmia. He was overweight. If you’re fat and male and in your late 40s, you’re at risk of a heart attack. Obviously it sucks for Sandberg and their kids and especially for Dave Goldberg that he’s dead. But his passing is not “unexpected” and therefore tragic and shocking in the way that the passing of an 8-year-old girl who gets blown up by a drone after a different drone blew up her brother, or a boy shot by some cop while he’s playing outside his house, is so unexpected and tragic and shocking that, all by itself, it justifies overthrowing the entire United States government.

Goldberg was one of two or three million Americans who croak every year. He was the CEO of SurveyMonkey. Unlike Prince or Bowie, he did not touch our lives or make a difference or make the world a better place. Goldberg was not any more special than your deceased friends and family members or mine.

Second, Goldberg died just two years ago. Sandberg’s children are preteens. Even setting aside the fact that this spectacularly wealthy and powerful woman has access to top-notch psychologists and other experts to help her kids navigate their grief, it’s too early for Sandberg to claim success as a parent. (Given publishers’ lead times, she probably started writing the book less than a year after he died.)

Get back to us in a few decades, Sheryl.

Judging from the flood of negative comments posted to articles about Sandberg and her books, I’m one of many people who find Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer pompous, pedantic, pretentious and generally insufferable. Like them, I can’t hate people without moral standing, credentials or unimpeachable experience who rise, Cicero-like, to share wisdom that turns out to be a series of “like, duhs:”

“And every kid faces challenges.”

“We can start by showing children that they matter.”

“Giving children undivided attention — something we all know is important but often fail to do — is another of the key steps toward building their resilience.”

Just.

Shut.

Up.

Coming the same week I’m reading about the inner workings of Hillary Clinton’s dysfunctional, out-of-touch campaign in the book “Shattered,” I had to ask myself if, as a middle-aged white male, my annoyance at Sandberg (and Hillary) owes something to misogyny.

Perhaps. I hope not.

What I keep coming back to is not Sandberg’s gender but her habit of individualizing experiences that ought to be universal.

“Lean In” addressed the serious economic and social problem of patriarchy by sidestepping its root causes with the Big Lie that if she could overcome, so could Jane Everywoman. “Option B” ignores how capitalism and employers make the passing of a loved one harder than it needs or ought to be in favor of vacuous declamations that boil down to “love them, time heals all wounds, it’ll all be fine.”

Times commenter “L.F.” articulates how our economic system brutalizes survivors: “The death of a breadwinner would plunge most American families with children into terrifying poverty. Dear God, the medical bills alone from a spouse’s final illness…and the loss of health insurance, which stops when the employed person takes their last breath or can’t keep working… I’ve literally known a family that landed in a homeless shelter after one parent passed away. The mortgage bank doesn’t give a damn about your need to teach the kids coping skills, and your boss might give you a week of bereavement leave, if you’re very, very, very lucky. Most American families don’t have $400 for an emergency. When people in my circles lose someone, they have to ask around for help from family, friends and church just to see them buried.”

Sheryl Sandberg helps run a company that makes America immeasurably worse off. Facebook prefers to hire cheap foreigners than hire un- and underemployed American tech workers. Though staggering rich, Facebook is cheap and thus intentionally understaffed to the point that the Facebook Killer’s snuff video stayed online for hours, as have pornographic photos of children, because there’s no way to reach them by phone.

Facebook is worth eight times as much as General Motors — yet employs fewer than one-tenth (17,000) as many full-time employees (207,000). That proportional shortfall of more than 1.5 million jobs could easily include the 272,000 journalists out of work in significant part due to Facebook.

If Sheryl Sandberg wants to help American parents, she should hire some.

(Ted Rall is author of “Trump: A Graphic Biography,” an examination of the life of the Republican presidential nominee in comics form. You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

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15 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Sheryl Sandberg is the World’s Most Annoying Person

  1. But Ted, according to that Time cover, Ms Sandberg is on a «mission to reboot feminism» – presumably, irrespective of gender, one will have to have a net worth of 10⁹ USD to qualify as a feminist after the movement has been «rebooted». How can one «hate» a person like that ? For my part, I suspect that «disdain» would have been a better choice of verb….

    Henri

    • Henri,

      I suspect the pre emptory rebuke of negative feelings toward an individual successful person was intended to extend also to the entire, superior successful CLASS.
      —–
      “Humor the rich for their detritus shall sustain you”
      —- from my own “sermon from the exceptional homeless sidewalks”

      • «Humor the rich for their detritus shall sustain you» Am I to understand you to mean, falco, that if we don’t humour them, we shan’t have to take their shit anymore ?…

        Henri

    • To Henri,

      I do believe that’s how it would work … BUT from THEIR viewpoint, anything less than strategically placed pitch forks
      seems to be interpreted as being humored.

      • Why pitchforks? Why not dinner forks?

        “When the people shall have nothing more to eat, they will eat the rich.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

        “They are most assuredly nicely marbled.” – Crazy H

  2. Living in San Jose I’m subjected to fawning articles in San Jose Mercury News about the tech companies and their leaders. Sunday front page had Sheryl there with photos of her and late husband. I skipped reading it. I wish more tech leaders would experience death so they would stop talking about The Singularity and life extension! Give it up already, we have too many people on earth as it is, why make it more crowded?

  3. > I had to ask myself if, as a middle-aged white male, my annoyance at Sandberg (and Hillary) owes something to misogyny.

    Answer is easy – do you have the same feeling (sour grapes?) towards a man in the same situation? (like Ted, I like to think I do.)

  4. Could we cover the root of the problem? The Time magazine cover tells us not to hate her “because she’s successful.”

    Cut the crap out right now, Time. Sandberg is successful? How? Look at her biography. She went to Harvard. Then she went to Harvard Business School. Then she got involved with the government. She then went to Google. Why? Golly jeepers. Could it be because she had all the government contacts? You don’t think Google is just two guys working out of a garage, do you? They play all the angles, just like every corporate entity in existence.

    Does anyone else see how it all feeds on itself? One opportunity after another expanded her circle of power and connections? All starting from going to Harvard? Is she smart? Hell yes. No one disputes that she has a brain in her head. Good Christ, I have a brain in my head. Ted has a brain in his head. Most of the posters on this site have brains in their heads. None of us is jetting off to Davos to attend the economic summit. Sandberg isn’t “successful.” She had one success, early on. She started out in good circumstances and she used her brains. Succeeding is easy when it’s all weighted in your favor. Especially when you only need to succeed once or two, and then follow the track that leads out of Harvard (straight into Harvard Business School, and then you’re into the Harvard Protection System: No one ever fails out of Harvard and no one ever starves after leaving Harvard because the university realizes that it can spent a pissant fraction of a single tenth of a percent of its endowment to make sure every student who graduates had permanent high-paying employment).

    When Sandberg has to work two part-time minimum wage jobs and still manages to graduate from college, when she gets hired at a couple of places based on her own abilities only rather than her abilities and her connections, I’ll listen to her breathless utterances.

  5. Ted, I just watched Stephen Colbert’s “The Late Show” from Monday night (04/24/2017) with his interview of this woman. (I’m in Mexico, so I get the show a day later by means of a proxy service.)

    I have to say that your article and Colbert’s interview have left me in a quandary, because I don’t see in that interview the woman that you’ve described.

  6. After having worked with, and for, people whose success stories have had episodes of meteoric ascent, among them a few who were sons leveraged into positions by their fathers, and who discount and mention only minimally that nepotistic fact, I’m familiar with the type.

    I’m not really familiar with this woman, but I’m sure she would hold me in low regard for that slight were she to encounter me, and so I will preemptively disdain the wench when it becomes important enough to me to merit elevation on my list of things to do.

    I once met a couple of local media personalities at a party whom I recognized immediately. I had so much fun feigning my non-recognition of them that it tickles me still to this day when I think of how they burned when they couldn’t arouse a sense of awe in me when I obtusely failed to recognize their celebrity.

  7. If you are looking for a book like “Shattered” centered on facebook, look no further than to Antonio Garcia Martinez’ Chaos Monkeys. You’ll also get a takedown of the Silicon Valley startup cottage industry in the same book, plus learn more about internet advertising and the author’s sex life that you cared to know about.

    If you like the books by Ted, you’ll like this one…

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