They Don’t Say What They Think
David Olgilvy | TikWork | Commuting Costs | Weak Ties And revolutions
Quote of the Moment
The trouble with market research is that people don’t think how they feel, they don’t say what they think, and they don’t do what they say.
| David Ogilvy
I was reminded of Ogilvy’s quote due to the pollsters’ surprise a few weeks ago.
Stat of the Moment
The ability to telework was available to 10.6 percent of civilian workers.
| U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Requirements Survey Summary - 2022 A01 Results
I’m struck by how small a percentage this is.
Apparently, there’s been an upsurge in workers TikToking about the joy of returning to the bennies of in-office work, perhaps as a respite from the pandemic's forced isolation. Mostly it seems a trend among the young and single, who are not struggling with the broadening shortfall in childcare options, and who ‘romanticize’ in-office work and commuting.
Marie Solis reports on this, profiling a handful of young TikTokers who have ‘viraled’ in this way, like Meena Kirupakaran:
Ms. Kirupakaran’s viral success sprang from the collision of a few trends: She is a Generation Z office worker, more enamored of the daily grind than some of her older colleagues, in part because the physical office remains a novelty. Ms. Kirupakaran finished college and entered the work force during the pandemic, meaning that, like many of her peers, she had never worked in an office before her job at HarperCollins. And because she’s a TikTok user, her positive perspective on office life gets broadcast onto one of social media’s largest platforms.
Ms. Kirupakaran uses the rubric of a “day in the life” to show her followers around the office and take them to work events. The genre often includes skin care regimens, eating habits or city-specific excursions. TikTokers also make day-in-the-life videos of their work lives, deploying the same editing style and careful curation to cast their office jobs in a more flattering light. As many workers continue to chafe against mandates to return to the office, videos like Ms. Kirupakaran are a stark contrast.
Some are more modest, showing lunches eaten alone in gray cubicles and office coffee whose quality we can guess at, while others flaunt luxe décor and amenities like gyms and catered dining. But the practice of “romanticizing,” which encourages gratitude for the most mundane parts of our lives, means that almost every office job gets the same treatment on TikTok. Across the spectrum, these videos act as positive messaging for companies trying to persuade their employees that it’s worth returning.
But detractors are quick to point out that the figures in the videos don’t seem to be doing much work:
The flip side of romanticizing one’s office life is that not everybody finds these portrayals of the 9-to-5 grind convincing. A frequent comment on the videos is that TikTokers seem rarely to be working. Shots of them sitting at their desks are but a blip in a collage of coffee breaks and office events.
The videos can also gloss over working conditions in certain industries that may not be so camera-ready: In the United States, HarperCollins [Ms. Kirupakaran’s employer] workers are striking for better pay and benefits.
Several of the TikTokers are now working as freelancers and have dialed back on the videos, unsurprisingly.
According to Jennifer Kingston, the cost of commuting is skyrocketing:
Rising prices for gas and auto insurance mean the average American is now paying $2,914 a year to commute, up $757 — or 35% — from last year, according to a new report.
New York City — the biggest of the superstar urban centers in the U.S. — is the priciest for commuting:
New York City takes the prize for the most expensive commute: At $4,040, this year's got-to-get-to-work expenses are 47% higher than last year's, which amounts to an extra $1,290 out-of-pocket.
And all the cute TikTok videos don’t make that hurt less.
Weak Ties And revolutions (With A Little 'R') | Stowe Boyd — from 2010 — Malcolm Gladwell wants to pop the bubble surrounding social media’s supposed role in capital ‘R’ Revolutions, as in the #iranelections. I think the real story is in lower case 'r’ revolutions. [There’s a great deal about the role of Twitter in 2010, which presages much of the conversation post-Musk.]