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.