Proper Facebook Etiquette

#924 stupid boss

Sunday 30th January, 2011

Dear Mariann,
I’m writing as a disgruntled employee who unquestioningly has the worse boss in the history of employer fat cat rule. On Friday, our coffee morning was sabotaged with a Facebook message informing us that office gossip and talk of holidays and babies was ‘forbidden’ on work time. Disgusting! What else are we supposed to do behind the filing cabinet?!!!
Yours with exclamation(!), Geraldo (via email).

Public gossiping has been the past-time for office hours since they invented the water cooler. That your boss does not understand that gossip fulfills a necessary part of your day must mean that they are either a tyrant, or not accepted into the ‘gang’. Have you friended on Facebook? My first ‘proper’ job at a media analysis company in London was rife for gossip. On my first day I was informed in no uncertain terms that ‘entertaining the clients’ and ‘keeping the boss sweet’ were the most important parts of my job. That and turning up on time at the crack of dawn and not leaving until the dead of night. Ironically, I was in charge of ‘communications’, so a post that required the scheduling of lunches, dinners and even brunches in order to be able to extend into every possible work opportunity a social dimension.  I found that I was particularly good at my job, and that the earlier you booked a table ‘for lunch’ (12pm on the dot), you could stay for coffee and before long it was a relatively civilised cocktail hour. This meant that a LOT of communication got done. In retrospect, you could either see this as a egalitarian farce of office politics, compared with the tyrannical monsters most of my peers were working for, or the cliquish cult of so called ‘executives’ with too much time on their hands.  These were the days of deeeeeeep expense accounts after all.

I found that if you’re fresh out of graduate school, you could get away with both work and social aspects simultaneously.  So long as the room was full of savvy and ‘attractive’ clientele my boss was ‘happy’.  When I left, he replaced the working brunch into cocktail conversation practices with morning pow-wows and put downs. A similar ‘no gossip allowed’ email was sent out to Account Managers and the expense account swiftly cut. I hear rumours now that he sits rocking back and forth on a high bar stool somewhere in Soho gazing at the walls and willing the ceiling to come down.

So what lesson have we learned here? Gossip matters. Yes it does. Equally it is the dexterity of the gossip-er that derives the quality of the conversation and just how much you can get away with.  With this in mind, come Monday, I encourage you to brilliantly execute some re-modeling of working practices to encompass ‘gossip time’ as working incentives, and immediately come one of the best offices in the United Kingdom.

A Facebook update would seal your fate.

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