Concerning the appropriate level of silliness

Silly cat

The definitive* guide to the appropriate levels of silliness for all parts of your life. (* Not definitive)

Different social situations necessitate different levels of silliness. If I responded to my colleagues in the office the way I do to my friends on Twitter, they’d probably think I was insane.

Them: Did you break the photocopier?

Me: Sorry, that was probably my dragon. He thinks it’s funny to sit on it and take copies of his… never mind.

You can only say such things in the office so many times before people start to avoid you at the water cooler.

So what are the appropriate levels of silliness for different parts of life? Read on for the definitive guide.**

Silliness in the corporate office: 0 dragons

Some people have zero sense of humour. The world would be simpler if such people wore name tags: “Hello, I’m Bill and I don’t understand what a joke is”.

Sadly, they don’t.

You usually figure out quickly who the Bills in your swanky corporate office are because they’re the people who look befuddled and interpret you literally whenever you make the slightest joke. (And sometimes get highly offended. Oh, Bill.)

Worse than the Bills are the Margarets (apologies to any real Margarets reading this–I’m sure you’re lovely). They pretend to laugh at your jokes and clearly understand them, but they don’t actually think they’re funny.

With pinched expressions behind closed doors, they shake their heads about how you don’t fit in with the office culture.

When you’re denied a promotion and encouraged to seek “other opportunities”, a Margaret was always behind it.

The only solution is to avoid jokes entirely in the corporate office, except when you’re alone with people you’ve seen drunk and of whom you’ve taken compromising photos. (I’m not condoning blackmail, just pointing out that it is effective.)

Silliness in the non-corporate office: 1 dragon

First, what is a non-corporate office? I have no idea. Perhaps an office where people don’t wear suits. I work at a charitable trust, and I’d say our office is non-corporate.

If you’re not sure if you work in a corporate or non-corporate office, crack a non-offensive, non-rude joke and see what reception you get. If the only response is bewilderment or uneasy sidelong glances, you’ve got yourself a corporate office (and you should be wearing a suit).

A low level of silliness is acceptable in a non-corporate office. Bumble-bee patterned socks? Okay. A mug with a rainbow unicorn making a rude comment about anyone who is not you using it? Probably okay, depending on the level of rudeness.

Bear in mind, however, that these are still the people who pay you (at least until your novel makes a gajillion dollars and you can quit your day job), so I suggest not pushing things too far.

Silliness at coffee with work mates: 2 dragons

As soon as you take work colleagues out of the office (please say you go out of the office to drink coffee, or I will be so sad for you), the rules change.

Yes, they still know it’s you. Yes, they are the same people who may be able to fire you or make your work life miserable, but expectations are different.

I’m not suggesting you order an extra Vienna with marshmallows and rainbow sprinkles for your giant teddy bear and sit him in the seat next to you. You want to encourage him to stick to a moderately healthy diet, after all.

But if he’s still first-thing-in-the-morning cranky, by all means order him a latte and seat him quietly in the corner.

Face it. Keeping a teddy bear cranky is not doing anyone a favour.

Silliness at drinks with work mates: 3 dragons

I’ll assume you’re not having a drink with your work mates at 10am on a Wednesday morning, because if you are you clearly live in a different universe and nothing I say applies to you (plus you don’t need help).

So let’s assume the drinks are on Friday afternoon and occur after 4:30pm.

This category is more complex than it might appear for one simple reason: the acceptable level of silliness goes up as soon as the boss leaves. The boss. You know who I mean. He or she probably leaves early.

While the boss is there, loud laughter is fine, hot salsa wrestling is not (and by “hot salsa” I mean the red stuff you dip your corn chips into). After the boss leaves… I still wouldn’t do the salsa wrestling thing. The stains are impossible to get out of your clothes.

But I would tape a sign to the boss’ office door saying, “Commander-in-Chief of the Entire Universe”. Unless she is Commander-in-Chief of the entire universe.

Silliness out with friends: 4 dragons

They’re your friends. If you have to rein in your silliness around your friends, you’re friends with the wrong people.

Go nuts, just try not to get arrested.

Monkey silliness
He started it.
Silliness on Twitter: 5 dragons

I can imagine two approaches to Twitter.

The first is treating it like a bunch of friends you’ll probably never meet. That means silliness should reign supreme. (But don’t be an arse. That’s just arsey.) We’ll call this Fun Twitter.

From Fun Twitter come such creations as The Octogrip of Love (thanks to @AnnaKaling and @kimmwatt–I miss all the best stuff because I live on the other side of the world and am usually asleep).

(If you can’t see the image here–and you probably can’t because I suck at this stuff–I highly recommend you click the link.)

If you’re trying to do Fun Twitter and you’re not enjoying it, you’re doing it wrong.

The second approach to Twitter is treating it as a professional front. We’ll call this Boring Twitter. I have no advice for you on Boring Twitter, I’m just sad you’re missing out on all the Octogrips*** of Love.

How do you think the appropriate level of silliness varies in different arenas of your life? Examples welcome.

Get my updates in your very own inbox. Silliness varies.

** Note none of this post should be construed as legal or other advice, because I have no expertise in this area and am making it up. If you can’t figure out by reading it that this post is purely for your entertainment, you probably shouldn’t come back because reading more of my posts is likely to be hazardous to your health and/or career.

*** Yes, I realise Octogrip is also spelled Octopgrip. The word hasn’t been in the language for long enough to have settled on a consistent spelling.

Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

14 thoughts on “Concerning the appropriate level of silliness”

  1. This is why I’m sure I’d be no good at working in an office – I’d get the silliness scale all wrong. Although I do remember from working at a gym that the silliness scale was around 0 to -1 dragons. That was a very serious place where people were very serious about fitness. No wonder I didn’t stay long.

    And thanks for the shout-out on the Octogrip of Love – it’s totally going to be a smash Bollywood movie!

    1. Ugh! I couldn’t survive in a negative-dragon environment. I’m glad you got out before you suffered permanent damage.

      Anything for the Octogrip of Love! (As long as I can say I found it first.)

  2. ‘A mug with a rainbow unicorn making a rude comment about anyone who is not you using it?”

    Annnnd now the rest of my morning is going to be spent trying to unravel this puzzle in my head: what the unicorn might say, what qualifies as acceptable levels of rudeness, if the rude comment is addressed to someone else who’s using the cup when they’re not supposed to or if it’s just addressed to anyone within the eyeline of the cup when you’re holding it, and so forth.

      1. So the unicorn says:

        “What are you lookin’ at, a…”

        Okay, Noooo. No.

        So the unicorn says:

        “If I was a real unicorn, I’d fly right the f…”

        Again. Too much.

        Alright, I think I’ve got it.

        So the unicorn says:

        “If you don’t put down [insert cup owner’s name’s] coffee cup right this second, I’m going to run my horn right through your spleen, and the last thing you’re going to see as you lay bleeding out on the break room floor is my big horsey face standing over you grinning from ear to ear. You think I’m playin’ with you? You want some of this? Try me. Oh, it’ll be the highlight of my Monday morning. I promise you that”

        Okay, that one … got a little dark.

  3. My need for silliness is deep and wide, so I work in a school where the students are between 11 and 14 years old. The adults maintain a veneer of being slightly less silly than the kids, but said veneer cracks often enough to let in sufficient light. My time in the corporate world made everyone squirm.

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