Depths of... Tension with Your Boss

Don't worry — we won't cc your boss on this email!


I’m Annie Rauwerda, and I started @depthsofwikipedia on InstagramTwitter, and TikTok to highlight my favorite Wikipedia rabbit holes. I partnered with Bullish Studio to round up the weirdest Wikipedia articles about a new subject every week. Next up: Tension with your boss! Here are the Wikipedia pages we're diving into:

Today's Entry: Tension with Your Boss

As pandemic restrictions were lifted, the US saw a “Great Resignation.” Record numbers of employees are clocking out for good — some in pursuit of better management.

In fact, 41% of workers globally are considering leaving their current employer this year, and a Harvard Business Review survey revealed 58% of people trust strangers more than their own boss. There are troves of Wikipedia articles about bosses, and here are some of my favorites!

🔑 Boss Key

A quick break at work can refresh your mind, but it's not always a good look to be drafting your fantasy football team when you have a work assignment. Wikipedia has an article on the boss key, a keyboard shortcut to quickly hide a program (usually a game) when your boss is nearby. Your screen will jump to another one that looks productive, like Excel or a fake video call. Here's the work-proof way to watch March Madness.

I'm not advocating for you to trick your boss! But if you need a quick discreet break, here are some programs with the same slack-off spirit as the boss key:

  • ExcelTrick has a huge list of games that can be played within Excel. Make sure you have macros enabled, though, or some won't work.

  • Caffeine simulates a keypress every minute in order to make your Teams icon "active"

  • The Wiki Game passes time and accomplishes nothing. You start from a random article and reach a specific destination just by clicking hyperlinks on the page. 

📈 Peter Principle 

As defined by the Peter Principle: "People in a hierarchy tend to rise to their 'maximum level of incompetence.' Employees are promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another." 

  • The idea was first developed by Laurence J. Peter in a 1969 book by the same name. Though it was published to be more satirical than scientific, recent studies have held up some of its principles. 

  • The Peter Principle describes a worker like Michael Scott: A great salesperson but a terrible boss

  • A similar phenomenon is known as the Dilbert Principle: Promote the least competent employees into management where they can't hurt anything (aka failing upwards)

📺 My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss

Up next in crazy reality shows we all forgot about: "My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss." The Fox Network show aired in late 2004 as a parody of The Apprentice.

A character named Mr. N. Paul Todd (an anagram of Donald Trump) led competitions for contestants who were all pining after prize money and a prestigious corporate job. Decisions were made by "the real boss" whom Mr. N. Paul Todd would regularly consult but viewers would never see. 

The Big Twist: In the final episode, the fabled "real boss" was revealed to be a chimpanzee who responded to the name of "Mowgli" and made his decisions by spinning a wheel with the names of the contestants. The show was canceled after five episodes and never renewed. 

🔒 Bossnapping

It's not when your boss is napping, nor is it "napping like a boss," but it is a good read. According to the Wikipedia article, bossnapping is "a form of lock-in where employees detain management in the workplace, often in protest against lay-offs and redundancies." The practice has especially been carried out in France, where activists are known to go exceptionally hard.

Here are some examples of what bossnapping looks like:

That's far enough down the rabbit hole for this week! Forward this email to a friend — or your boss 😉