Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Asshole Factory


What is Mara’s job like? Her sales figures are monitored…by the microsecond. By hidden cameras and mics. They listen to her every word; they capture her every movement; that track and stalk her as if she were an animal; or a prisoner; or both. She’s jacked into a headset that literally barks algorithmic, programmed “orders” at her, parroting her own “performance” back to her, telling her how she compares with quotas calculated…down to the second…for all the hundreds of items in the store…which recites “influence and manipulation techniques” to her…to use on unsuspecting customers…that sound suspiciously like psychological warfare. It’s as if the NSA was following you around……and it was stuck in your head…telling you what an inadequate failure you were…psychologically waterboarding you…all day long…every day for the rest of your life.

More here.

A friend of mine posted this on my facebook timeline yesterday.  Here's how I responded.

1. Noam Chomsky has said repeatedly over his career as a dissident writer that all human beings are intellectually curious and naturally creative, and therefore need intellectually stimulating, creative work. I agree with him on this, across the board.

2. Karl Marx concedes that there are a lot of really shitty jobs in the overall economy that simply have to be done, which is why he asserted a four hour work day, which would, by his nineteenth century estimate, allow the economy to produce everything everybody needs, but also allowing everybody to have actual lives outside of work. I think that, today, we could probably drop down to two or three hours a day with similar results.

3. I remember attending an in service years ago with the entire faculty of the high school where I worked. They showed a ten minute clip from Dead Poets Society, all inspiring, all the right words about learning and living, and the clip was cheered by everybody. Nobody seemed to be in on the irony that what we were doing every day as teachers in our own school was exactly the opposite of what Robin Williams was doing in the movie.

4. Since I got out of grad school, I've been accused by more than one person of having no ambition because I was waiting tables and pursuing professional actor roles in New Orleans, essentially not worrying too much about it and enjoying my life. Little did they know that I'm trying as hard as I can to reject The Asshole Factory of life, which may very well appear to assholes as though I have no ambition.

I'm at the point in life such that all that shit we were taught we're supposed to be just doesn't seem to be worth it. So why bother? Why participate in an economy to my full "potential" when I don't think the economy is serving me to its full potential? I'd much rather do shows, write songs, and write essays on the internet. As far as I can tell, these things have at least as much value to my fellow man as, say, selling shit to people who don't really want or need it.
'Nuff said!