Help me lie about myself.
April 30, 2010 11:05 AM   Subscribe

As part of a team-building/training exercise at work, we're supposed to make a website about ourselves. I can handle the technical end just fine, but I hate, hate, hate having to make a display of my personal self in public. I'm pretty sure I can get away with making stuff up, as long as it's sufficiently outrageous that everyone feels in on the joke. Now I just need some ideas...

(Vent: Oh my [insert deity of choice] why do extroverts just not understand that some people find this sort of thing anxiety-producing and tedious rather than fun? I get the need for morale boosters for the office drones, but these things always seem to be planned for the benefit of people who like being the center of attention.)

I don't want to bring up my geek hobbies at work any more than I already have - for example, someone's already picked up that I play tabletop role-playing games and now I get tedious questions about "my Dungeons and Dragons thing" (which isn't even one of the systems I play, and, just, argh.) I want to keep most of my social networking stuff separate because (a) I like my personal life personal, (b) I'm not sure all my co-workers would love my politics, and (c) sometimes I make vague allusions to work stress. They have my IM and my LinkedIn and that's enough. Also, in general, I've always hated the "tell us about yourself" part of any proceedings because it just makes me feel like I'm being judged.

I remember the cute little meme that made the rounds years ago about the college essay someone wrote just making up wild accomplishments and I think I could do something like that. I just need enough content to hang a simple website on. What can I claim that's work-appropriate, and likely to be seen as fun?
posted by Karmakaze to Society & Culture (35 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
When in doubt, always start with "Raised by wolves."
posted by bondcliff at 11:08 AM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

Clearly you're an astronaut with seventeen girlfriends.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 11:12 AM on April 30, 2010

Past experience: Lucha libre
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:12 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do a straight-up biography of Genghis Khan: "My hobbies are hunting, politics, and Tengriism. I spend most of my time with my big family, who I love very much. My pet peeves are the Khwarezmian Empire, cowards, and pastureland that can't support cavalry regiments."
posted by Valet at 11:16 AM on April 30, 2010 [19 favorites]

My name is Karmakaze. In my spare time, I enjoy reading and cooking.
Oh really? What do you like to read?
Oh, everything.
Oh really? What do you enjoy cooking?
Oh, everything.

They'll move on.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 11:16 AM on April 30, 2010

Cold War Spy, or you're on the lam from the law so you can't reveal too many details about yourself.
posted by too bad you're not me at 11:17 AM on April 30, 2010

Pick someone famous (or famous in your office - the CEO?) and completely imitate their life.
posted by CathyG at 11:17 AM on April 30, 2010

Ugh, I'm an extrovert and I hate this kind of stuff too.

Accomplishments: perfect attendance at Clown College, invented bananas, voted Best Cat Herder three years in a row . . .

Special skills: churro making, snake charming, Esperanto film critic . . .
posted by annaramma at 11:17 AM on April 30, 2010

You are the reason it says "YKK" on every zipper in the universe, but you're not allowed to say why. They will find out soon enough. Soon enough.
posted by bondcliff at 11:19 AM on April 30, 2010 [5 favorites]

One way to do this is to write the site in the persona of some famous fictional character. You can start out deadpan and just keep adding in outlandish things until everyone finally sees that you're actually talking about Batman or Indiana Jones or Hamlet or Ebenezer Scrooge or whoever.

Another idea would be to introduce one word or thing everywhere you can, and pretend that you're monomaniacally obsessed with it, so it becomes a running gag. Favorite drink? Coffee. Where did you grow up? On a coffee plantation. What do you like about your best friend? His delicious brand of coffee. This is a pretty obviously harmless way to go if you're afraid that doing a more outlandish joke might backfire. Just be prepared for everyone at the team-building thing to think of you as Coffee Guy for a few months afterwards.
posted by RogerB at 11:21 AM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Google your own name, and then pick details at random from people that aren't you.
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:22 AM on April 30, 2010 [6 favorites]

Pick a superhero and copy his/her bio. You know, born on Krypton, raised in Smallville, moved to Metropolis to pursue a career in journalism.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:28 AM on April 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

Be careful. I once said something about llama farming in my introduction at a new job and it followed me FOREVER.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 11:31 AM on April 30, 2010

Presumably, you maintain a public persona that you present to other people so that you need not reveal your personal self to people who you do not feel comfortable presenting that self to. Describe that persona.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:41 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cutting the "do not remove" tags off mattresses and pillows.
Memorizing the contents of friends' medicine cabinets.
Collecting non-winning lottery tickets.
posted by amyms at 11:41 AM on April 30, 2010

The great thing about this idea is that all sorts of fake real-life activities have already been done by the fake people on television! For example:

You were a grizzled and worn out cop, with a reckless and unpredictable partner and just three days until retirement... and then, after those three days, you left to join your current company.

You spent several years stranded on a deserted island, with the Harlem Globetrotters and Scooby-Doo.

You and your five siblings became a minor celebrity pop group in the 70's, until drugs, booze and incest tore you apart. (maybe skip the incest part)

After your sister was abducted by aliens, you spent your weekends and lunch break fighting government conspiracies and alien invaders, and then things got far too convoluted and confusing so you gave up.

Fought crime with a talking car? Discovered a suit that gave you super-powers, but no instructions? You were a young black kid from the streets, raised by a weathy white man?

I think you see where I'm going with this.
posted by exclaim at 11:44 AM on April 30, 2010

Raised by wolves, definitely. Get really specific about the species, habitat, etc. Maybe even a "meet my family!" page with pictures and bios of your adoptive packmates.
posted by Neofelis at 11:58 AM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you are good at photoshop just take a few of your old mundane pics (graduation etc) and photoshop in famous people.
posted by Busmick at 12:08 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


You say that "I'm pretty sure I can get away with making stuff up, as long as it's sufficiently outrageous that everyone feels in on the joke." and you know your office better than anyone else, and the question is how to make something up, not whether or not it is a good idea, but well, are you 100% sure that the top dawg extrovert, your boss's boss's boss won't look askance at that?

Perhaps in keeping with what you want you can create a site Karmakaze International man/woman of mystery. give the barest bio sketches of yourself and invite users through a forum to fill in the blanks. (so long as they can't do it anonymously) That way you don't have to be office naked yet you are probably guaranteed of both being a team player and being innovative. Just a thought.
posted by xetere at 12:11 PM on April 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh this is easy: pick your favorite work-safe Chuck Norris Facts and replace his name with yours. Make sure the last fact involves you beating up Chuck Norris.
posted by Metroid Baby at 12:16 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree that this might be a little cheesy (and anxiety-producing for some).

I think the idea is really funny, but some people might feel slighted or annoyed, and it may distance you from your co-workers.

Maybe find a way to include something genuine (even if just a verbal aside when you share your product).
posted by jander03 at 12:24 PM on April 30, 2010

Say you are in the Witness Protection Program and do not wish to have any members of La Cosa Nostra finding you.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 12:27 PM on April 30, 2010

Don't forget that unforgettable winter when you came in second on Dancing with the Stars.

Seriously, what _do_ you wish people at work knew about you? Do you prefer phone calls to e-mail? When did you start with the company? What exactly _is_ your job? What information should people give you when they ask you to fix their _______ ? Are you good at graphic design, but nobody ever lets you even try to work on the company Christmas party invitation? Do you hope to go to project manager training someday?
posted by amtho at 12:35 PM on April 30, 2010 [4 favorites]

My go-to hobby of choice in this kind of situation is always nude windsurfing.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 1:00 PM on April 30, 2010

I agree that humor is sorely lacking in most offices, but I can see where being too creative/funny could potentially backfire. Some people take their team building activities very seriously. Striking a balance between clever and truthful is probably your best bet.
posted by janekate at 1:16 PM on April 30, 2010

It'd probably be a bad idea to use Egil Skallagrimson's biography, but I've found nothing shuts up office mates like reciting Beowulf in Anglo Saxon or declaiming sections of Havamal in Old Norse.
posted by QIbHom at 1:17 PM on April 30, 2010

The point of the exercise is really to prove that we know some HTML and CSS (which I did before this project started.) The "about you" topic is pretty much because they needed neutral topic. The point isn't really getting to know each other. I can talk about myself in natural conversation, just not when I'm standing under a spotlight and forced to answer "So, tell us about yourself."
posted by Karmakaze at 1:19 PM on April 30, 2010

Also: seconding amtho. This is actually a good opportunity to help your coworkers learn things about you that you don't mind sharing, which may eliminate the tedious questions you're getting now.
posted by janekate at 1:20 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Some inspiration here.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:21 PM on April 30, 2010

I had to do something like this once related to sports.

I described this scene from Rudy, right before the coach put Rudy on the field:

We're gonna go inside, we're gonna go outside, inside and outside. We're gonna get 'em on the run boys and once we get 'em on the run we're gonna keep 'em on the run. And then we're gonna go go go go go go and we're not gonna stop til we get across that goalline. This is a team they say is... is good, well I think we're better than them. They can't lick us, so what do you say men?
posted by chiefthe at 2:17 PM on April 30, 2010

Since they already know about some of your geek hobbies, why not use those as a jumping off point? Maybe use one of your tabletop characters as the basis for your biography?
posted by Uncle Ira at 2:30 PM on April 30, 2010

It's simple, you are Her Royal Highness the Princess of America.

Your hobbies include any number of Real American Pastimes, from overthrowing small dictatorships to baseball and eating apple pie. You chop down cherry trees and were born in a log cabin. The teddy bear was named after you. You hold patents for the Gramophone and Alternating Current. You invented chocolate chip cookies. Your biggest accomplishment was being the first person on the Moon, and your face is on Mount Rushmore.

Late one night you took a lantern to the shed and when the cow kicked it over you winked your eye and said "It'll be a hot time in the old town tonight."

I think if you keep it really outlandish and familiar then everyone will get the joke. Your website could be all Stars & Stripes and whatever other fun you want.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:55 PM on April 30, 2010

I have a degree in tautology, and did post graduate studies in manufacturing antiques.
posted by Admira at 6:24 PM on April 30, 2010

The ideas for funny work great amongst a funny community like us MeFites. Sometimes, in the real world, not so much. Especially if you're already pegged as the office "nerd" because of your tabletop gaming, already knowing HTML/CSS, etc. I've been there, even working in the IT field, and it's annoying.

My advice is to keep it bare bones. In some offices, people aren't going to get the jokes, even if they're outrageous or obvious. Just go through the basic 4th grader "about me" list: favorite food, favorite color, where you live, where you went to school, marital status, car you drive, etc. Not exactly 4th grade, but you get my drift: anything that comes up in a 5-minute pointless small-talk conversation. Maybe mention your favorite lunch spot or how you take your coffee, but I'm going to disagree with all the advice here and say to just give out the boring basics and leave it at that. Half of your office (at least) will do the same thing, and you won't open yourself up to more lolnerds ridicule.
posted by sleeping bear at 9:30 PM on April 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

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