Lately there has been a succession of TV commercials that feature slow-motion montages of office workers going bonkers with celebration: gyrating in the air, stumbling into massive group hugs, etc. On the surface it's supposed to be an ironic parody, which would be pretty much innocuous if that were all there were to it. But I think ultimately those commercials are also really patronizing if not outright detrimental.
For years I worked at many different offices as a temp, and at each one I remember at least one person saying something to the effect of, "Boy Brian, I'll bet you've never worked with such a bunch of crazies as we have here!" But virtually any time I heard that, it couldn't have been further from the truth. Invariably the bunch in question was as exotic as a bologna sandwich on Wonder bread. So when I saw these commercials by Microsoft and Southwest Airlines with their tongue-in-cheek portrayals of offices as these unbridled fountains of emotion and fun, it immediately touched a nerve.
Of course there are countless offices where amazing work is being done. Still, the culture of cubicles can be stifling, and even in the best offices people aren't diving into each others arms for group hugs. To say so is absurd, which in turn is the basis of the parody in those commercials. But I think at the same time the advertising actually encourages people's self-indulgent and in delusional sense of what their office environments are like. It lulls oppressive office cultures into ignoring the obvious.
Then again, I haven't worked in an office in about three and a half years. Maybe I just need to talk to someone in HR at my company about taking some personal leave...at least for the rest of the afternoon.