Office Politics

Everyone’s got their shorts in a bunch about the Ragu dads video. Including me. Also, “shorts in a bunch” is my new favorite phrase.

For many years I worked in office environments. I shared an office, or I had my own office, or I had a cubicle, or I sat on the floor. When I entered the bizarro world of television, I didn’t always work in an office, but I always had coworkers, even if it was only one person.

In an office, however small or large, there’s always a interpersonal dynamic to deal with as you deal with your actual work. Some of that is good: teamwork, morale, support, and friendship are important parts of life, and if you’re spending a third of your life at an office, hopefully you find those things there. But some of it can be, of course, bad. People parking in your parking space, or harshing your gig because you show up 2 minutes late, or stabbing you in the back to get a better project.  You have to deal with the close talker, or the busybody, or the guy with bad breath, or that mean lady who never fills out your form without a big sigh and a total runaround first.  Don’t even get me started about the accounting department…

Lots of the good and the bad of an office job go away when you work at home, all by yourself, with only the internet to talk to. And so the internet becomes your workplace, your cubicle farm, your social network. I use Twitter to share random thoughts the way I would shout out random thoughts to my office mate. (I edit them a little.) I use Facebook for longer ideas. Many people do this, and it helps us all feel less alone. It’s a nice camaraderie.

Except when it’s not. Don’t forget for a second that those other Twitter handles and those Facebook friends and those bloggers that you read, are friends with, and enjoy are actual people. When you get a pitch and you hate it and you decide to take it to your widely followed blog, you might take a second to consider that even though you’re slamming a brand, there are people behind the brand, lots of people who worked hard to create this project around which there is no evidence at all that they set out to hurt you.

So, that happened.  One guy was offended by the Ragu video titled “What Is Dinnertime Like  When Dad Cooks?” and he posted an angry piece about what he considered the poor marketing involved.  Cue the legion of misinformed comments from people who didn’t even watch it, but simply echoed that one guy’s kvetching or added their own ignorant reactions.  And then many, many other internet writers jumped on the rant bandwagon. Some of these people I consider friendly colleagues.  Not one of them asked me about it before posting.  Oh sure, they invited me to comment, and therefore generate more traffic to their own posts.  At least a few people came to the defense of the bloggers in the video, and I applaud them.  I would have thought there were more of you out there.

I compare this situation to office gossip.  Imagine that there’s a rumor going on about you, and you walk down the passageway of a giant open office, and everyone turns and stares as you walk by, or they huddle and whisper.  You know what they’re thinking, but you hold your head up high, because after all, you stand by what you said and what you stand for, for God’s sake, and you don’t care what they think.  But after a while, after the nth link one of your behind-the-scenes friends sends you, it gets really fucking annoying, and you just want to yell, “What is wrong with you people?!”

So.  What is wrong with you people?  The video includes nothing offensive toward anyone’s husband or dad.  It’s funny, it’s cute, and it’s a conversation starter.  What, your non-traditional family setup is not represented?  The moms in the video, who were chosen for their personalities and charasma, have a traditional setup.  That’s the way it worked out.  Why not add something constructive to the conversation and respond to the prompt – what is dinnertime like when Dad cooks in your house?  If there’s no Dad in your house, go ahead and say so.

And more to the point, why not respect your coworkers and at least find out the truth about the rumor before spreading misinformation throughout the office?  I’m not the new girl.  I’ve done a lot of great work, and I deserve better than that.

And stop stealing my lunch out of the fridge.




  1. says

    I personally wish my husband would cook dinner every night. He’s much more interested in doing it than I am and he does a much better job. But most nights it’s on me to get food on the table.

    I think in general people all have their shorts in a bunch far too often for their – or anyone else’s – own good.

  2. Auntie Rola says

    It is so upsetting that with the vastness of the internet, people cannot find something else to gossip about. Isn’t Jenn mad at Brad?! Go tackle it you blog bashers!

  3. says

    Yeah, less hashtags with #FU in them and more focus on Brad Pitt, please. I’d like to hear Angelina answer the questions, “What’s it like when Dad cooks dinner at your house?”

  4. Ana Flores says

    I am so glad you made a point of mentioning how these ridiculous circuses have an actual effect in real people’s lives! I was once witness to a bashing episode started on a major blog that’s dedicated to being controversial. They grabbed a huge brand’s press release and took offense to what they deemed were racist and demeening remarks towards Latinas…the catch is that the blogger wasn’t Latina herself and noone in the community that received the release had even reacted to it because it wasn’t offensive..we actually did relate to it.
    The result of this ignorant bashing was the loss of jobs for several people. Real jobs, with real money that pay mortgages, schools, etc.
    i was a close witness to this and since then you will never read anything negative coming from me in reaction to a brand. It would have to be very, very off, but even still I would hesitate to have someone lose their job over my perspective.
    Good for you for speaking up!

  5. says

    I don’t understand the controversy over the video. I watched it twice to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. Ridiculous. It was so far from offensive and I’m easily offended.

  6. says

    I think the video was benign but what CC was reacting to was the abominable misuse of twitter.

    I was talking to CC about it yesterday and it’s as if he went to a film festival and someone introduced the film by saying, “Okay all you bumbling fools, this film is about you.” And then people were supposed to feel good about the film

    Unfortunately the video was just one part of a poorly executed campaign.

  7. says

    We’ve chatted privately, so you know where I stand, and wholly respect that individual people are always behind even anonymous brand accounts. Yes, ignorant bandwagons are a part of many problems. But this sounds like you thought all of commentary was ignorant, and that’s just not so. There weren’t rumors at play, not at all. Opinions, yes. On everything from the campaign video to the use of Twitter to the product overall. Some well thought out. Some ill-informed. Now, whether or not people want to hear other people’s opinions about campaigns might be a question, but I’m thinking that’s a big part of what meta-analysis on Internet is about, good and bad. It’s what campaigns bank on, that people want to hear stories and opinions, right? How can that be good, but it’s rumors if you provide opinions back? The beauty AND the beast of blogging is stories and personal perspective. I think the beauty is worth it–you can offer your stories and opinions for consideration for free or even sometimes be paid to do so. Sorry you felt the slap of the beast on this one.

  8. says

    @Everyone, thanks for your thoughts. @Deb – No, I didn’t think all of the commentary was ignorant, just the ones that cited the video as “making fun of dads” and other choice phrases that mean the same thing. Which made it obvious that the writers of those comments didn’t watch the video itself. And I agree with what you say about sharing your opinions. After all, isn’t that why we are here? But you can share your opinion without being a dick about it, and there’s enough information out there that you don’t have to be misinformed.

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