Ten Things I Learned from my Google Hangout Yesterday

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Because everyone loves listicles (thanks, Buzzfeed), I decided to write one for my latest post about my experience yesterday moderating the #UprisingofLove Hangout on LGBTI representation in the media, sponsored by Google+. If you’d like to watch the hangout, check out the link/video at the bottom!

 

1. Google’s entire employee pool is made up of sexy, super-cazh, 23 year old waif-nerds.

I guess this isn’t surprising, but still: walking around the offices, and eating in the cafeteria especially, was like being back in college. No one even pretends that this is the corporate world: I did not see a single person in a suit, and pretty much every conversation sounded like people running into each other on the street.

Of course, you sometimes see someone over 30; if you peek inside an office, they’re usually huddling in a corner somewhere with a 23 year old hunched over them trying to explain how something works.

2. Persimmon and fennel go great together in a salad.

Who knew? Other terrific combinations: Yuzu juice, white grape and chia seeds. The amount of food, the variety, and even the quality is pretty astounding: we’re talking 5,000 person cruise buffet variety. And this was just one of the cafeterias. Each cafeteria serves different food, and every day the menu changes. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everything is free. My contact at Google, Devin Emery, told me he has worked there for three months, and has gone grocery shopping once. 

Aside from this, they have happy hour Thursdays, and quite often, Google invites special chefs to cook meals for the day. You can browse all the menus online before making your choices. Feel like quitting your job yet? (Don’t bother, if you’re over 30)

3. If you want people to be more productive, make sure they are never more than 100 yards away from food. Or a massage chair.

So I mentioned the cafeterias, but that’s just the beginning. Every floor at Google has several very large and well-stocked kitchen areas with tons of beverages, snacks and desserts. You never have to walk more than 100 yards for free, delicious food.

Aside from that, there seems to be way less actual office space than sofas, funky chairs, areas to hang out, pool tables, slides, etc. There are plenty of conference rooms, with fun names like “Teenage Joe and the Jerks” or “The Blues Bar,” and granted, many of them seemed to be filled with people who it’s safe to assume were working. Lots of white boards with markers to leave messages or post-its and tons of signs everywhere, because it’s very easy to get lost at Google.

The massage chairs were the biggest irony, of course. These are probably the least likely employees to need massages that I’ve ever encountered.

4. I am not the only person who feels incredibly stupid when it comes to technology.

I was happy to see that everyone on the panel had to ask for help to get on to the hangout. (Granted, none of us are 23. Maybe that’s why.)  I know Google applications are pretty intuitive, but frankly, I think the easier technology becomes, the less smart we become in relation to it. I had to have pretty much everything spelled out for me before we began. I’m sure one day we’ll just tell computers exactly what we want done and they’ll just have to figure it out. Better, they’ll have to intuit what we want. (If you’ve seen “Her,” you know what I mean.)

5. Doing interviews with famous people is not terrifying

I was pretty nervous in the run up to this event. I had never moderated a panel, and I was far and away the least important person on the panel. I was afraid of making a stupid comment, or having dead air, or having technical difficulties that I wouldn’t be able to handle.

But none of that matters, because celebrities are really good at talking. Once you ask the question, they are more than ready to step in and take over. I just had to chime in every once in a while to guide the proceedings, and occasionally switch up the order if things seemed to be headed in a different direction. It was way easier than I thought.

6. Celebrities sometimes just show up at each other’s houses and join in on media panels.

Jennifer Beals was a surprise guest on our panel, because Janina Gavankar decided that she wanted to include Jennifer on the panel, so you know, she just drove over to Jennifer’s house and they hung out together. The two worked together on The L Word. I have a feeling this happens all the time in Hollywood.

I really enjoyed having them on because while they were both thoughtful and had a lot of great answers, they reminded us that this was a “hangout” and that we were all supposed to be relaxed and just talking off-the-cuff about the topic.

7. Wilson Cruz should head every LGBT organization, period.

There is a reason that GLAAD hired Wilson as their National Spokesperson. He is ridiculously well spoken. Not only does he know the issues so well, but he has a way of expressing his thoughts and getting to the heart of the matter in a succinct, thought-provoking way. One minute he’s sharing personal tales of strife and the next he’s cracking jokes. I was super impressed.

8. Too much of the focus on gay issues is often on (relatively young) gay white men.

Janina made a point of this in one of her answers, and Wilson also discussed this as well. I know that I’ve been guilty of it myself, even though I try to be mindful of it and we certainly discussed it at length on the panel. The voices of LGBTQI people of color, or the elderly, and even of lesbians is often marginalized by the media who seem to gravitate to stories of gay white men. These are the people with the most currency in the media, and often the only people with the power to write, produce and create stories about the LGBTQ community. But the community is as diverse as the rest of the country, and the world should be made more aware of that, which can only happen when media outlets start to see stories about these folks as “less risky” and worthy of attention.

9. Andrew Rannells is even more adorable than you think.

We all know he’s cute. But the characters he plays are kind of high strung and annoying. (Then again, who isn’t annoying on Girls?) On the video chat, he was relaxed, funny , personable and thoughtful. And hot. A little stubble goes a long way, Andrew.

10. “We’re not living in a post queer world”

Noah Michelson, Editor of HuffPo Gay Voices, made this point, and it’s something that needs to be reiterated to all those who think gay people are being too sensitive in their responses to the numerous offensive comments made by people almost daily in the news. Gay people have not won every battle yet. Discrimination and prejudice still exist, and remaining silent or letting these offenses pass without shedding light on them, without giving people with purchasing power the right to choose not to watch a certain show or a buy a certain product, would be consenting to being treated as second class citizens. The battle rages on.

Uprising of Love LGBTI in the media hangout

 

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