Below is a response to ‘With friends like these ... Tom Hodgkinson on the politics of the people behind Facebook’ which appeared in The Guardian G2 magazine on January 14th 2008. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jan/14/facebook).
Why has it taken me over 2 years to do this? Well, I did write this in January 08 (or at least the first draft) but I’ve not ‘published’* it until now because….. Well, that’s a long story in itself. So shut up, stop asking such picky questions and read the damn thing please!
*if you can call posting something on a blog to be read by, oh, two people and a dog, ‘publishing’, ha, ha. Meanwhile, there are more asterisks(*) in the text below when I make references you may not understand; a little glossary is at the bottom to aid you.
Office monkey gone to ‘eavenFacebook is possibly one of the most dumb and shallow forms of ‘entertainment’ to enslave us since, oh I don’t know, ‘Big Brother’ (except that never got me) but way worse. 59 million of us are already registered ‘users’ apparently and that’s exactly wot we are - users. FB advertises itself as ‘a social networking site’ but is anything but social; instead with determination it drags us away from real meaningful human contact so multinational companies can market shit at us (So far, so agreed, Mr. Zut d’alor journo of G2*).
Most of us have some sense of how shit it all is even if the C.I.A. links are less well known. But hey, do you stop shopping in Tesco coz they use the same spying technology with club cards? Oh food is integral to survival but ‘entertainment’ is well… lets turn off our tellies, stop listening to the radio, reading books, watching sport, blah blah blah - we need entertainment, it’s a basic human coping mechanism for the shite that is life.
Internet kicks TV’s ass as far as meeting those well known consumer demands for ‘variety’, ‘choice’ and ‘individuality’ are concerned (type your name into Google for fun). If T.V. is moving wallpaper, the mega popularity of FB is nothing but the collective yawn of office workers everywhere searching for ANYTHING to distract them (same goes for bored students or the unemployed lucky enuf to get internet access, yeah? I dunno, probably, as I ain’t been one of those for ages).
Anyway, let’s examine a case in point. 1 view from the main DOP** tower block (cell block E) is of Cwmtuch crematorium. When Cathleen Rita Bones’*** grandfather died, the AAs**** flocked to the window to watch the ‘Evening Echo’ celeb event that was the funeral. As the Stereophonics so perceptively sang; “There’s more life…..” in a crem than the DO fuckin’ P.
Okay. Let’s do this thing. We’re not stuck on some construction site, working against grey gales and pissin’ rain…. risking our lives operating heavy clanking machinery, avoiding collapsing 30 tonne steel bars coz of lax health & safety (fancy a head crushing do ya?)
You must be ‘aving a laugh, mun.
We’re not Portuguese or Polish, splattered in blood and shit, electrocuting turkeys on the ‘dunk their heads in charged water’ line. We get more pay and have better rights than shop workers, although they might at least get to move about a bit (unless they’re stuck on the till all day - then ok - maybe). Do you rather that to sitting on your arse all day eating total rip off (but bloody lovely) custard éclairs? Depending on your viewpoint.
“Alright then, the point is…. is ….. It’s a holiday camp in this cowing place. It’s a piece of piss and all these chancers that take the piss going sick all the time with so-called ‘stress’. Dragging it down for the rest of us - let me tell you - I’ve got bloody stress in my life as well, mind!” Rant, rant, rant.
A lot reckon its good money too (or so say the ones who read the Echo and don’t know anyone close who actually works yuh.) Its great coz in the factory we had to wait for someone to cover us before you could leave the line and go to toilet and we did get a big turkey at Xmas. You still have to ask permission to go to toilet if your EO***** is a XXXX, though.
The flexi is great and there’s no shifts. Well, unless you’re actually a shift worker - but you do get the allowance then so that works out. This place is safe, mun. Well, you’re not going to die from R.S.I., are you? Ok, your eyes might go a bit shit but you get free eye tests and get some money back for the glasses. The union’s crap but we’ve got the flexi, loads of holidays, duvet days.
Be grateful for what you’ve got coz it can only get worse ‘out there’.
So goes the hymn
DOP -sleeping giant
An icon of offices
Paper factory, graduate graveyard
The dull fuckin’ ‘ole
(‘Caught me up in ‘oles’ unless you’re valleys then its ‘Siared Cymraeg?’)
The place which drains the milk of human kindness out of you (if you were lucky enough to have any in the first place).
We survive by taking the piss constant and light heartedly yapping about sex and sometimes death. We survive by cranking up the inherently weird ‘office politics’ school yard, flicking ladybirds against a wall coz you’re so bored bullshit; the backstabbing, two faced… awww, but we’re just one big family, so play along mentality which sucks you in whether you’re the victim, victimiser, both, neither, whatever. The difference is only in degrees.
But we DO have a good laugh and I mean that, genuine now, I’m not always this hate filled. And there are the characters, so many cccccccccccccccccchhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaarrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaccccccccttttttttttttttteeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrsssssssssss
‘You know ‘er’
Stalkers, slags, ‘eaders, loads of ‘eaders, all sorts.
We survive by dressing up as elves, fallen angels, wise men and Mrs. Clauses on the Xmas do. Oh don’t forget the usual suspects, hmmm yeh, not quite finished on the bitchin’ yer. These are the ones that really thrive on ‘the games’; predictably boring, head fuckin’ shit (like - r u jealous coz your ex one nite stand is flirting with the office ‘xxxx’?) As lazy as flicking elastic bands all day, which we do.
Note: no prizes for correctly surmising which gender is ‘xxxx’.
And as for legends - Narcissus, anyone? Calling all office intellectuals out there!!!!
Ok, all this bile, but the thing is - we stare at computer screens all day, doing the same old, same old -obvious. Now wiv the internet, it’s the great, collective (barely conscious) consciousness. And common sense might say that we’d break out when we can and tear ourselves away - a lunchtime walk to that great DOP satellite, SPAR (‘Pick me up some fags, could ew?’) Or at least park yourself in the aptly named ‘break out’ areas to eat inflation busting, regurgitated…..
But no, no, more and more we’re sucked in. We help spread the virus. We ARE online. Look, I’m fighting this thing everyday ….. Or at least fighting myself.
CELL BLOCK E, WARD 5. A trip to the dentist is a highly desired treat.
‘Golden balls’; how we laughed. A pitcher plant in the office growing field. Taste the nectar. And be grateful you were made permanent b4 the cuts. Waste away; make vain plans 4 escape if you’re young enough and wiv no ties.
But in the meantime - OFFICE MONKEYS EVERYWHERE -lets waste our precious time (free or keyed in) playing flirt, bite me chump, ‘How inane and bored r u?’ quizzes. Lets build profiles; shameless but comforting self promotion. Fun, pointless, fun. Wot’s your no? To assert that I AM A HUMAN BEING and NOT a fuckin’ ROBOT attached to a machine!
But you are logged into an evil C.I.A. linked, spying capitalist scum - spit - mega advanced marketing machine. A machine which is the total anathema of real humanity, of real living, breathing, sweating, eating, shitting relationships.
I was gonna write ‘your employer is using this to screen you’. My employer is following me online. They even wanted to be ‘friends’. Keyed in, keyed out, we lose - well, lose even more than we were losing already.
PLUS + NEW + ADDED BONUSES
Hackers that rob the working poor to feed themselves.
PLUS + PLUS + MORE!!!!
Women everywhere! (+ some blokes too, coz of course you can be victims too)
COMING to a screen near you soon: Call ‘stalk’ for a free upgrade now.
Actually, what is really, truly disturbing is that if you haven’t already switched your mind off to all this from the word go, then, you - you - you
Stupid fuck, fire, fire, play, play (buy now on Play.com/con/cum)
Do it, do it anyway
Why, Mr. Journalist? Why do we do it? You didn’t think of that one, did you? Or are we too beneath your coolly acquired contempt?
Office scum, monkeys spread viruses, ‘monkey gone to ‘eaven’. But these multinational corporations and their lackeys (public sector organisations that wanna be private) are yes, truly, scarily powerful. ‘They’ are VIOLATING. And we do it; we steal sellotape and scissors and let u record the crimes. It’s petty, dumb and mostly pretty unconscious but as we see no real escape, ‘escapism’ numbs us (but like nicotine addiction it can never truly satisfy).
Yours is an elitist wake-up call that goes unheard amongst those who matter. We need a conscious way to channel our frustration and discontent. Get off the computer and start to organise as one. Till such time, let’s go red, red-head and mock, mock the workmen in the lashing rain.
* Tom Hodgkinson, obviously
** DOP is an abbreviation for the Department for Paper
*** A Hollywood actor originally from the local town
**** AAs are Administration Assistants and not a particular battery size