Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gridlock on the Grid

Animal Farm was my favorite book growing up. The parallels between that novel by George Orwell and our corporate lives as we now know them are truly stunning. First you become an owner and then your privileges slowly dissipate. That piece that you owned just became a lot less valuable. Knowledge is power you say? Knowledge is a curse. Oh how I wish I could simply surf stupid on Facebook. Isn’t that what it is called? When we are clicking links to zone out of reality or voicing our latest meal, thought, song lyrics..we are surfing stupid. There was no point to get on. No destination to discover. We weren’t trying to look anything up or research anything. We simply wanted to check out for a while and look at posts. This would be the equivalent of sitting on your porch and watching cars drive by. It’s what we did as children in cars on long road trips. We zoned out the window and looked at passing billboards. Only now those billboards are written by our friends or semi-acquaintances to you thousies out there.

I’m coming up with new terminologies today. Thousies are you brave folks that accept and add everyone to your’ve exceeded a thousand friends (or are on your way). Oh I’m sure you really are that popular. Maybe I’m just jealous, yet I know that you won’t be reading this anyways because thousies don’t actually have time to read anything on Facebook. When you have that many posts on your news feed my blog link is a distant memory. It is like driving on the freeway at 200 miles an hour and every billboard is a blur. And you can’t post anything of significance on your wall when you are a thousie because well you really don’t know the other 800 plus people that you added. It would be like going in the middle of a busy street in a city and yelling out your personal information. And the problem with too many thousies on your Facebook friend’s list is your news feed gets clogged with all the latest friend additions. I’ve scrolled though two pages of friend add notifications just to find out what one of my friends ate for dinner last night. It was quite frustrating.

Of course I am being cynical. I am as guilty as every one of this stupid medium and my ranting and raving against it is simply a re-circulated blog from last year but that doesn’t change the fact that it is true. We are simply frying our brains on a slow simmer. Going off the grid never seemed so appealing. Just disappearing into life somewhere, be it a tropical island, an isolated wilderness cabin, or the Bermuda Triangle. Maybe Amelia Earhart was really just trying to get away. Perhaps she finished her life on a remote island and left the show behind. Watching the show Dual Survivor a lot has me envying the lives of Dave and Cody. Maybe technology isn't what it is cracked up to be. It sure gives us a lot more to desire and a lot less to accomplish. Yet seeing an episode where Cody built a huge tee pee out of the trees in remote Argentina seemed more appealing to me than some over-priced beach house in Malibu.

There the stock market isn't on the radar, nor is the latest celebrity gossip. We could care less about the new Fall line up of television series debuting or our fantasy football leagues. It is primitive as surviving. Making shelter, starting a fire, and finding food. Granted I don't envy their meals. Yet the bugs and critters they have to eat to survive are probably healthier for them than the garbage most of us fill ourselves with on a daily basis. And yet as much as I enjoy the show, it is simply staged scenarios and watching survivalists make it out of the jungle in an hour long episode is pretty easy while sitting on my couch with a bag of Doritos.

We are spoiled by technology and our generation. We can whine about the job market but 100 years ago people were just lucky to live past 40. We can travel the world with a touch of a computer button where 100 years ago many people had no idea what other parts of the world looked like. We can decry that the end of the world is coming, but our indicators are exaggerations blown out of proportion compared to the real hardships past generations suffered and prospered through. No one said this life would be easy except for the reality television shows. Of course it isn't for them either, and maybe most of all. Exposed and disposed of after their 15 minutes. Their illuminated skeletons our guilty pleasure. You want to envy the Situation? Fine, but lets re-examine his life in five years (or even one). The pretty picture and glossy images only hide the reality of these so-called realities in plain sight.

I read an article that said there are less men in the job work force than any time since 1948. There are more women than men currently employed. The jobs that were once available to men who wanted to work with their hands are no longer available. Industrial and manufacturing jobs have been shipped overseas, to the benefit of corporate shareholders. Foreign and illegal workers take farming jobs that are paid far less making them undesirable to most US men again for the benefit of profits. Meanwhile there is less disposable income to purchase these products. Men are told that it is their lack of education holding them back and that they are being lazy, but tell that to the coffee barista with the college degree and 60K worth of student loan debt.

For too long we are getting told that there is a model to follow for success. Yet no one told us this model was glued together with plastic. The college professors teaching business are themselves detached from the industries they are training their students for. It's the blind leading the blind, yet the only one holding their hand out are the universities subsidized by the government and it's hard to lift someone up when you are reaching for their back pocket. Trade schools which can actually offer a career path and available jobs are unable to offer financing options for their students. Yet you can get a college degree paid for by the US government in French poetry as long as you sign off on the 30K loan you'll be paying off forevvver with your job at Applebees. Suddenly that tee pee in Argentina looks a lot more stable doesn't it?

Staying optimistic is fine and dandy. Everyone should focus on the positives and we are lucky to have the things we do, but we are following roads to success paved with reality land mines. We can start making wise decisions and saving our money but the instruments to increase our wealth are being directed by people with a lot more of it. I guess the more we sit and analyze the things the more that surfing stupid on Facebook has it's advantages.

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