Culture //

The sick sad world of Generic Office Roleplay

Facebook has produced yet another bizarre social simulation, writes Max Hall.

“Dear Colleagues,

As I reflect on my first week here at the Eastern Division I must express a number of concerns I have had. I understand that a number of these may be due to my recent arrival from the Milwaukee Western Division, and my need to adjust to ‘Eastern Office Culture’, yet I feel I should at least alert you all to some of these.

Firstly, in the weekly consultative relations meeting with HR I was told by one staffer to “take a chill pill”. Now I must remind all staff members that section 27(C):III[b] of the employee contract states…

[several paragraphs of similarly bureaucratic drivel]

… Do not hesitate to get in contact, or CC: CC (the nickname I had in Milwaukee West). I always welcome constructive feedback (note: “beige” and “soulless” are neither warranted nor constructive).


Carter Campbell

Vice-Director Strategic Services and E-Mail (formerly Senior-Deputy-Vice-President Marketing and Cleaning, Milwaukee West)”

The above reads like an email leaked from your average mid-tier firm that sells something, dripping with the sort of corporate despair you could expect from an impotent man whose career has stalled in lower middle management. And that is sort of the point.

Welcome to Generic Office Roleplay, a Facebook group whose members enact the email exchanges of a fictional office. Stackwell Enterprises’ mission statement is simple “we shift units”. From this starting point roleplayers dedicate hours to creating masterpieces of bureaucratic obfuscation, all written in the passive aggressive tone of a weary occupant of a cardboard cubicle or the self-important bluster of management.

As perversely interesting as the pages’ material might be, why people would want to simulate petty office dramas is more curious. The effort and attention to detail that goes into the posts is frankly bemusing. Perhaps it’s the last triumph of capitalism to convince young people – the page appears to be mainly used by students – that there is recreation in play-acting a ‘real’ job. Maybe it’s just nice that you need not acquire a desk job or even so much as type a resume to partake in the masturbatory indulgence of bureaucracy.

I’d like to think the motivation has more to do with finding alternative content to the carefully constructed selfies and humble brag statuses that populate newsfeeds. What better relief from the social posturing of our friends and hundreds of links to articles that you could never possibly read than frivolous satire of the working world? The growing variety of niche Facebook pages that serve up anything other than typical content suggests this might be close to the truth.

Say you’re the type to fall down the rabbit hole of Wikipedia’s blue related links and mysteriously wind up reading about the taxidermy of stoats sometime after three in the morning. Cool Freaks Wikipedia Club is for you. Yes, it will swamp your news feed with links to Wikipedia’s greatest hits and the guest commentary of weirdly invested group members. No, none of the information will be remotely useful. Some personal favourites include “list of lists of lists” and “list of sexually active popes”.

Not interested in esoteric knowledge? Perhaps something less intellectually demanding? The Same Photo of Jim Carrey Every Day has you covered. The title is self-explanatory and the sixty-seven thousand followers can hardly be wrong.

Best option? Join all three and let the river of posts float you away from anything significant at all.