by Dan Gibson
I try not to fault people for how they spend their time...live your life, I say. However, the idea that people would want to use their fleeting moments here on earth pretending to work in an office seems, well, totally insane:
You're stuck at an office all day, deleting all-staff emails and futzing with the office printer. But imagine if you were also part of an online group, pretending that you were in an office all day.
That's what's happening at one of the latest cult Facebook Groups, Generic Office Roleplay. Over 2,500 members from around the world fill its virtual pages with posts that mimic office-wide emails. There are passive aggressive notes about food stolen out of the fridge, mandates about office dress and office supplies, and tips for improving synergy. Think TV's The Office meets David Rees’s clip Art cartoons, My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable meets live action role play (LARP), all happening on Facebook.
The term of choice for its practitioners is BLARPing—business live action role-play.
Yes, it's suppose to be an acted out version of satire, I guess, but still YOU'RE SPENDING ACTUAL TIME PRETENDING TO BE IN AN OFFICE.
It can be almost therapeutic. David Baker, who is the "facilities manager" at Stackswell online, and at one of the biggest buildings in Dubai in real life, goes so far as to make the analogy to combat vets who play Call of Duty to deal with post-traumatic stress. “Odd but it seems to work,” he says. “For me it’s an escape,” says Baker, who often checks the page while at work even during conference calls. “You get to be creative in your replies rather than ‘yes of course we are actioning, thank you for taking the time to inform us’ stuff.”
“It’s the opportunity to respond the way you would love to at meetings in real life. Instead of flipping out at work, they write about it on (Generic Office Roleplay). Super effective,” says Thomas, an “executive leadership team” in Melbourne (who didn’t want his last name used.) Thomas spends about 15 to 20 minutes a day posting and reading the page, time he considers mental health breaks. “There are some funny people out there and they are tired, frustrated, and caught from, by and in corporate. This is a genuine escape and an opportunity to empathize with people from around the world,” he adds.
A feud has broken out, and many of the original members are rebelling, lashing out, and leaving the group. It’s been taken over by the people who they were making fun of, who they say, are ruining the fun. A new CEO, David Frew, a real-life lawyer, has replaced Oscar.
And the adults are continuing with their office world—IRL and on Facebook.