Don’t care about Metamates, Googlers and Puritans

This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. This is a collection of past column.

The company we know as Facebook on Tuesday announced that employees will then be referred to as “Metamates”. This is clearly a naval reference? And a cognitive scientist who doesn’t use social media is someone who has recommend this nicknamein the postscript to an email.

All are strange. Then again, “Facebooker” is pretty weird too.

The problem isn’t that Facebook/Meta/whatever has chosen a confusing name to refer to its employees. The problem is that companies in the tech sector prefer to use proper nouns for their workers. This is not normal.

The point is, technology normal The current. There was a time when the technology industry was new and different, and so was its corporate culture. But now, technology is so ingrained in our lives that many quirky companies that once felt adorable in 2000 now seem like a work of art.

I humbly suggest that tech companies try to act like the company leaders they are. Maybe they could start by rethinking those names.

Google employees are referred to as Googlers. The new hired Googler is Nooglers. Former Google employee is Xooglers. Yes Pinployees at Pinterest. Twilions work for Twilio. Dashers offers burritos for DoorDash. Bread oven difficult for a company to manufacture new cash registers.

Boxer was in the corner at a software company called Box, and Dropboxers at similarly named Dropbox. Splunk calls his workers Splunkers. What a shame. The term Spelunkers caving is right there. By HubSpot HubSpotters and by Amazon Amazonians sounds like rival teams in the Canadian Football League.

Silicon Valley also has Clearance (Pure host worker), The Palantirians (Palantir) and… wait for it… Coinbaes at the Bitcoin bank Coinbase. (“Bae” is an affectionate term for someone special.)

Maybe you find this silly or cute. Both! And if rich bread puns make people feel more connected to their co-workers, then bring me in. OK, that sucks. Sorry.

Employee naming isn’t personal, it’s mostly a piece of technology. As far as I know, JPMorgan Chase tellers are not often called “Chasers”. The New York Times staff members aren’t called “Gray Lady” as the paper’s old nickname was – and if you call me the Gray Lady, I’ll smack you in the nose with a thick Sunday newspaper. (Or I would, if I hadn’t gone all digital.)

I can’t help feeling that these naming conventions for techies are a relic of the technological age as a species at the world’s zoo.

Believe it or not, there was a time when technology was a fringe industry in dire need of attention. Steve Jobs often called reporters over to his house to convince them to be more interested in what Apple was doing. Tech companies accept their outside and underdog positions. It’s nice to be different and unsolicited.

That is not reality anymore. Technology has won, and that’s everything and everywhere. Human communication is inseparable from technology and money, entertainment, agriculture, transportation, our interactions with government and the way we study and work. Tech companies and executives are some of the wealthiest and most powerful forces on the planet. Elon Musk can stock market move with tweet from the toilet.

Maybe I’m just an incomparable killing pleasure. (That’s right.) But the more pervasive and consequential technology becomes, the more it’s up to tech companies to act like oddballs rather than unfounded.

Some of the tech quirks are pretty good. Who can argue with free sundaes for staff and tables and chairs that double as works of art? And tech people don’t have to be lifeless drones. But there must be a medium of fun between boring corporate executives and billionaire co-founder Palantir, who has been selling his company’s stock while roller skates and wear gym clothes and goggles.

As with many things about technology, corporate employee nouns may require a rethink. However, Coinbase can hold Coinbaes. Really A+. Don’t care about Metamates, Googlers and Puritans

Fry Electronics Team

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