Role-playing, on some level, is about escapism. Ordinary life is boring; Dungeons and Dragons lets you get away. Have some fun! Be a wizard, a knight, an intergalatic mercenary. Or, in the case of the 2,000-plus members of the "Generic Office Roleplay" Facebook group, an IT guy.
Since August, people have been congregating in the group, pretending to be employees of an imaginary company called Stackswell & Co (business plan: "moving units"). They send memos about the printer, out-of-office replies, job applications, and schedules for meetings. Many of the posts are self-consciously jokey—don't wear a bikini on casual Friday!—but the most interesting ones, like this note about leftover cake in the third-floor coffee room, are completely mundane, just like actual office emails.
Thomas Oscar, the Australian teenager who started Generic Office Roleplay, told Fast Company that after he and a friend competed to see who could join the most "wack" Facebook groups, he decided to start his own:
"The idea literally just happened, I didn't think it over for more than one minute before creating the group," says Oscar. "An office just seemed the easiest thing to role-play, take the piss out of senseless bureaucracy."
Initially, Oscar told Fast Company, the group reflected that trolly, teenage sensibility, but as it caught on, it got, well, dorkier. There are wacky narratives now—scrolling through, you'll see a lot of posts about a group of iguanas that evidently took over the office—and the audience grew from Oscar's friends in his local punk scene to include honest-to-god office workers, some of whom post dozens and dozens of items per day. ("If it wasn't funny it would be very sad because the reality is you are actually doing that with your life," one such worker told Fast Co.)
Eventually, Oscar's posts grew hostile toward new members of the group, and last week, there was a buyout, sending the founder of Stackswell & Co. out of the company he'd built. His last update reads: "well this group has gone to shit but at least some chump paid me $25 to let him take control over it lol." A new CEO has since taken the reins.