Rage against the machine

In Life on January 7, 2013 by thebetweenthoughts Tagged:

I am a cog.

I have no illusions that I am more than this.  That I make critical decisions.  That I have any influence over the strategic or operational direction of the firm where I work.

I am a cog.  I do what I’m told.  I work within the boundaries defined by corporate leadership and I turn and turn and turn until I’m worn down into nothing more than a nub.  Then, I’m replaced.  By a shinier cog, a cog full of optimism and enthusiasm, but destined to the same fate in the trash bin.

It’s a depressing assessment of my current career, but it’s no different than most.  By and large, we all savor those last few hours on Sunday and dread the sound of the alarm clock on Monday morning.  This the social contract we’ve entered in with corporate America though.  Our consumerist predilections drive us to earn more and climb the corporate ladder.  At each rung though, we realize that our appetite for “things” grows and we’re forced to reach for that next rung to stave off our mounting debts.  We’re indentured servants.  I recognize that I’m a fairly well-paid one compared to the rest of the country, but I’m still beholden to the same corporate masters.

So, what is to be done?

I made my escape once before.  I threw off the shackles of corporate and consumerist enslavement and I fled to New York to be creative (translation: to be poor).  I was fake poor though.  At any point, I could have jumped back into the corporate world.  I also had the safety net of successful middle class parents who would never really let me march into poverty.  Although I have returned to life in consulting and the riches associated with such a profession, I would actually consider myself to be fake rich.  With business school debts and a “higher standard of life”, the actual money I have on hand is fleeting.  I’m not sure which situation is better.

It would be nice to wake up on Monday morning and not immediately hate life.  It really would.  But that’s life as a cog.  Could the machine live without me?  Of course.  But could I live without the machine?

I don’t know.



One Response to “Rage against the machine”

  1. Yeah dude. You can live without the machine. The machine should be described as the superstructure that uses natural things as inputs and outputs man-made junk (debt for one), landfill and the occasional useful piece of technology. Churning through everything like a wood chipper, and it will do the same to you. The main difference is that it won’t leave its outputs in a simpler form, more easily re-assimilated into nature… As human beings, that are still animals, this can be true as much in life as in death. We have natural components, namely all of them, which are shaped and eroded by the machine so that our snow-flakey selves can fit into the slots they’ve built for cogs. Do yourself a favor, cut the selfish, circular justifications and realize that your time is short. Do you want to spend ~8 of your most vital, thoughtful and energetic hours doing someone else’s work? Or use that time living, and surviving? Or creating art? Some people say life is what other people are doing while you’re sleeping. Some people might say it’s what happens while you’re at work being a cog. I think it’s up to you to decide what your life is, and whether its from a current or a future perspective looking back, snowflakes are so much more beautiful than uniform gears. We all know its there, but the more you stuff it into a suit the more of it which melts. That’s why when people throw it off quickly, unless the revolution has started long before internally, they are kind of blank, they don’t remember what it is like to think for themselves and choose their own hobbies, to have so much time. The anxiety of that initial pause, and the pre-emptive fear of it (which can stop such internal revolution) is a symptom of the realisation of how precious time really can be. That fear can lead people back into jobs, if I can’t work out what to do with my time, at least I can have some money, for when I do work it out, or for some future plan to see me done with this machine forever.

    Good luck.

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