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Archive for the ‘Big Brother’ Category

Freelance Warrior

In Big Brother, Blogging, SlavesInc, Technology, Wage Slaves, work life balance on January 2, 2017 at 18:45
It is easy to fall into the ‘Pen is mightier than the sword’ wordplay. But one man’s knight is another man’s mercenary.
In a post-modern WiFi inundated world, knights are often slouched behind desks following up on their pizza home delivery. Nature is inherently violent and only the fittest survive. But what is fit is changing and physical violence is now translated into the language of money and economics.
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Most of us visualize life as this long epic battle for which we are fighting, suffering and sacrificing everyday so that day one day we will reach Graceland. The Big Payoff, the Big Promotion, the Big Offshore posting – which may or may not come and if it does it may or may not seem worth the life force spent in chasing it. One would think it would be hard to sell this world view. But it’s not because the scriptures themselves prescribe daily drudgery in lieu of otherworldly salvation. And we have all bought into Jehovah’s stock-options that will not mature in this space-time continuum.
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The ads selling you fizzy drinks and fitness bands, your employer’s mission and vision statements and the condolences you offer yourself every night before setting the alarm again – all adding to a loosely bound narrative that keeps you in a trance you call a life.
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You do a have choice though, increasingly so. A choice of sitting it out, hitting the eject button on the rat race, watching the circus from the sidelines. Live a little bit of Graceland everyday, happiness in small daily installments. Mutual funds are always subject to market risks but Ponzi schemes are only subject to your ignorance.
Freelancer, rebel, outcast or just social slacker, at least you have the freedom to own your mistakes. That’s better than being an extra in someone else’s Forbes dream.
– Punit Pania

The Biggest Ponzi Scheme in the World

In Big Brother, Christmas, HR, humor, Motivation, Wage Slaves on December 24, 2016 at 08:39
Nietzsche proclaimed ‘God is dead’ in 1882. But HR is keeping Him alive for KRA purposes.
From Rangoli competitions to Secret Santa, no festival, tradition or tribal mating ritual will be left behind. Selfies will be clicked, forms will be ticked and camaraderie will be faked.
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All in the name of that modern and universal measure of human relations – engagement. Engagement is just the kind of cashless-paperless-soulless term corporations like to employ to make complicated responsibilities seem manageable.
If only 4 AM philosophising could get you far in life, you wouldn’t have to wonder what to get Rozy for her last Christmas in the galleys before she begins her long but terminal affair with pension. What could you get her that she has not seen in three decades of salaried existence and nearly six decades of attracting gravity in general? Where does being a compliant slave stop and being a nice person in general begin? Is Jizas watching us all the time? Doesn’t he take a day off? Not even on his birthday? Does anyone give a flying Rudolph about any of it?
Not really. Not when you consider that the primary purpose of any system is its own perpetuity, be it the Anglican Church or Acme Corp. And the whole thing started as an ad campaign anyway. The whole Santa thing, not Church. And it only took you three Wikipedia pages to come to that conclusion.
So you decide to gift Rozy a frame. She can put her granddaughter’s drawings in it, her own photos or just leave it empty and call it art. Of course, you had to assume that she has a granddaughter…who likes to draw. But you’ve already alloted more brainwaves to this act of corporate Karma that it merits.
Secret Santa must be the biggest Ponzi scheme in the world. And the house always wins. The best you can do is engage, keep your head down and quit while you are ahead.
– Punit Pania

Switch off the damn WiFi

In Big Brother, Blogging, Motivation, SlavesInc, work life balance on December 20, 2016 at 15:46
It’s been an hour since you’ve been staring at your screen, a month since you took a break and a year since you put out a blog post.
But Facebook is the new blogging, Insta is the new Facebook and SnapChat is the new Insta. You don’t even have to wait for the next InstaSwipeClick thingy to take away any residual need left to think or even simply take a deep breath. It just keeps coming, like wave after wave of zombies. You can keep striking them down but drowning is only a matter of time.
Sure you have friends and something akin to an employer and a guiding deity. But they are all increasingly mute. Just acting out their parts in mime unless double clicked to say more. Just one more thing to scroll past on a never-ending conveyor belt to oblivion.
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There are happy moments, funny cats and morbid quotes but they are all faint proxies for a real-world cousin who doesn’t even matter anymore. Neither do you nor your blog nor any other form of documentation you force into a habit.
But you do it anyway more as an exercise in free will than in any meaningful defiance. In the flat, hot, post-truth world, creating, holding and relishing an independent thought in your head is by itself revolutionary.
And detox is always just the flick of a switch away. So switch off that damn WiFi and start some real work.
 Merry Christmas!
– Punit Pania

Town Hall

In Big Brother, Office humor, SlavesInc on August 26, 2013 at 23:52

Life is full of transactions. Many monetary, some legal but most social. Phone calls, IMs, meetings, coffee, interviews. In the unlikely event that you get the time to consider how many of these are desired, you would realise just how much you have abdicated your freedom.

social-butterfly business

These are lofty thoughts for the garden variety employee, especially during working hours. But you are on the semblance of a high right now. You are on an air cushion of defiance. For you have given the town hall meeting a pass. Whilst 100s of your fellow rowers try to look attentive and not miss an occasion to clap, you are sitting idly in the relative peace of your cubicle.

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Through updates on your intelligent phone, you know the address by ‘Senior Leadership’ is as dull and uninspiring as expected. You are feeling better about yourself by the minute. You may even put some music on to accompany the brisk elation in the air.

Cloud-9

But as it so often happens, when you think you are getting too ahead of yourself, you probably are.

‘What are you doing here?’ It’s Head Slave, seemingly having assumed form from vapour.

‘…What are you doing here?’ is your surprising counter-offensive after a moment’s stratlement.

‘I…came here…for a glass of water, see.’  HS gulps down a glass of water rather uncomfortably. ‘Why aren’t you attending the town hall meeting upstairs?’

‘Its…astonishingly boring.’

‘Well…it’s not appropriate not to attend this meeting.’

Wow. HS actually had no objection to you finding the meeting boring, astonishingly so. You tell yourself that is victory enough for one day and march upstairs to comply.

Dilbert ISO Compliance

It is another one of those undesired transactions and a one-sided one at that. Big Boss is rattling off slide after slide to the collective dismay of his captive audience. But you are happy being on this side of the transaction where compliance is independent of belief.

– J.

Time and Pressure

In Big Brother, Office humor, SlavesInc, Training on December 18, 2012 at 03:16

It is 10 pm. The belly is empty, the back limp and the mind is a mess. The stale air and the cheap biscuits have sapped your vitality. But Yoda is still going strong. To say that he was born to do this is an understatement. To ask why you were born is tempting depression.

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There is hope though. At this point, you will cling to even a whisper carried on a feather. It comes from Yoda himself. It is in the form of suggestions (surprise!).

‘It has been a long day. I suggest you head back to your rooms, take a nice hot shower. Enjoy the dinner and head for the beach. The waves look so calming under the moon. Then come back and get a solid night’s sleep. Wake up to a continental breakfast. One should breakfast like a king they say. Enjoy it at leisure and come back to the workshop at 9 am. Somewhere in the middle find a few minutes to get around to the assignment which is…’

It takes Y more than a couple of minutes just to tell you what the assignment is. And it takes more than a couple of moments for the joke to sink in. In this state of dashed hopes and compromised reflexes, you spend the next few hours burning the midnight bio fuel.

Somewhere over the past couple of decades, companies have come to believe that the only way slaves can learn is under high levels of stress, under a state of mental and physical agony, sort of like training mules with spurs. Only here, the mules get to take notes.

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To make it interesting, Y has made a wager with teams competing for points and cash. It is your very own Big Brother experience. With each passing session, stress levels rise and civil conduct falls.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

It is 10 am. The belly is stuffed, the back stiff and the mind is staffed. During a particularly crisp morning session, a fellow slave and sufferer seems to be at the frayed ends. Let’s call him Mr. M. After several failed attempts at making a point, M seems so restless you start hoping he doesn’t have a gun under the table. By now, everyone except Y knows he is dying to share something with the group. At first you feel: ‘Another poser.’ Then you get mildly irritated by his cries for attention. But now, with his eyeballs almost popping out, you feel vaguely curious about this piece of information that he just cannot keep to himself. Yoda finally relents and invites M to share.

“SIR, PLEASE SIR…URGENT BIO BREAK SIRR!”

Yoda magnanimously waves him out. As fellow boot campers burst out laughing, M bursts out of the room. To save a few preciously painful seconds M undoes his fly on his jaunt out of the gas chamber. You can only hope he made it to the Promised Land well contained.

Super Pee

Time and pressure can move mountains. If the only thing time and pressure of slavery move for you is your hairline, you need to rethink your game plan.

–          J.

Slavetopia

In Big Brother, humor, SlavesInc on August 25, 2012 at 19:02

‘Who wants to slave away all their life?’

‘Not me.’

‘If on a year or two’s investment, you get to sit back and relax for the rest of your life, isn’t it worth it?’

‘Off course it is.’

‘Then why hold back?’

‘Coz it sounds like a Ponzy scheme.’

‘See, I spend just 10% of my time in selling. The rest of my time is concentrated on building a team.’

‘And what does your team do?’

‘They recruit more people.’

You couldn’t even say ‘I rest my case.’ Mr. B seemed to have drifted beyond the perimeter of reason.

They got to him. It was probably Mr. A that bit him. A had been babbling about this scheme for almost a year. This is like Zombie Apocalypse without the special effects.

Mr. B was one of the smartest Slaves you knew. So you decide to humor him. You decide to actually go to these ‘Seminars’ that Mr. B spoke about. Best case scenario, you will be able to save him from the brink. Worst case scenario, you will be sold to the idea yourself but atleast you will have something to believe in.

It is scarily similar to what you had imagined it would be like. Big posters everywhere. Participants looking so happy and chirpy you would think they were drugged. Aerated drinks masquerading as fruit juices, continuous subliminal announcements and…branded merchandise.

Mr. B seems to have blended right in with other Slaves from other Galleys, all exuberant on a mirage of freedom. When the ‘training sessions’ finally start, the attention and interest is staggering. If only these guys had been so rapt in school, they wouldn’t have to be here.

Between all the forms you have filled so far, you have already had to give away more details than you would have to if you were jailed for murder! It seems the longer you stay, more your chances of becoming one of them. As a precaution, you decide not to consume any of the food and drink.

So far, the Seminar has hit all the check marks for a scam in your book:

1. Greatest thing since sliced bread

2. Good for everybody including housewives and students, may be even your dog

3. ‘We sell everything, from underwear to Life Insurance.’

4. No disadvantages whatsoever

5. Plans for World Domination

and

6. A joining fee

So you decide to make a run for it. You don’t even deem it necessary to say goodbye to Mr. B, he is one of them now.

Rather than doing business yourself, you are giving business to people who are in the business of making you feel like you are doing business! If Slave driving has a future, this is it, Slavery on auto-pilot.

Mr. B may have found something to believe in but you already have your Clarion call:

Have the kahunas to break free on your own or go down fighting.

– J.

Independence Day

In Big Brother, Office humor, SlavesInc on August 15, 2012 at 16:47

The Security Guard at the gate waves at you as you arrive. You groan for you have probably forgotten your dog collar (ID card) at home again. The Guard has a smile on his face which you return with frown. He hands something over to you.

It is a tiny flag! Once again, your reluctance to use the calendar has left you unaware. It is Independence Day silly. And what better place to celebrate it than in the galley? Everyone else including the receptionist is dressed in national colours. It is like you have wandered back stage at a circus and are feeling under-dressed or you are caught in a time warp in a sci-fi movie where only you appear in black and white. You have to unmark admin e-mails from the Spam folder.

You dig into the trash folder and discover that today is; indeed, the day of Independence Day celebrations for the Slaves. Little flags everywhere that will be in the dust bin or under foot tomorrow, tri-coloured desert at lunch and what’s more, a fashion show to adjudge the most garishly dressed zealot. If only you had signed up for the army, you wouldn’t have had to see this day of plastic patriotism.

The mail from your socially aware admin dept. also states that at 5 pm sharp, we shall all rise to the national anthem. ‘Stand up wherever yo are,’ it says. To ensure compliance, a .mp3 file is also attached. It is supposed to go off at the designated time preceded by a meeting reminder. Off course, none of this goes according to plan. More mails follow instructing you to open the file yourself and directing you to web pages to update your Media player.

When it finally does go off, all workstations are out-of-sync. In addition to the annoying loop on the track, it makes for one big racket. You can’t take the fashion show after this, you may end up shooting someone. So you walk out, exercising the freedom of flexi-timings.

To make sense out of this holiday of irony, you have to watch one of your favourite movies again:

Network, 1976:

‘There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM, and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today… And our children will live, Mr. Beale, to see that… perfect world… in which there’s no war or famine, oppression or brutality. One vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men will work to serve a common profit, in which all men will hold a share of stock. All necessities provided, all anxieties tranquilized, all boredom amused.’

– J.

Help us ‘Serve’ You Better

In Big Brother, Boss, humor on July 13, 2012 at 04:39

‘So you see yourself taking up more responsibility over the next couple of years?’

‘Positively, Sir.’

‘Are you sure you will stay here that long?’

‘…Yes.’

‘What about a sense of belonging?’

‘A sense of what?’

‘You know, belonging. I think it is very important for you.’

‘Err…yes, yes off course. I totally belong here.’

‘Hmm…’

You never took HS to be so perceptive or even coherent. And here he is reading your thoughts!

But hold that thought!

…You should have been tipped off a long time ago. You’re naiveté astounds you. What were you thinking filling up that survey? You should have known when the website’s masthead read ‘Survey Monkey’. But you kept clicking any way, you conformist Primate! Now they have made a monkey out of you!

‘…I certainly hope you mean what you are saying,’ HS goes on in an ‘I know what you did last summer’ tone. The mix of anger, frustration and entrapment you are feeling right now is hard to mask. You should probably have a name for this feeling for you experience it way too often.

‘Absolutely Sir,’ you gurgle through your rage-choked throat.

‘…Alright then…Oh could you take this form, it is a leadership survey assessing top management. Fill it and give it to my secretary.’

You raise your eyebrows as if to say, ‘Really?’

‘It is confidential,’ he waves you off.

‘Off course,’ you say almost laughing at the sham.

If yes men are what they want, you won’t let them hear an honest neigh again, that is the least they deserve. If you wanted to be a non-conformist, you would not have been in formals in the first place.

– J.

Slavedom Cometh

In Big Brother, conspiracy theories, humor, Office humor, SlavesInc, Wage Slaves on April 3, 2012 at 02:53

You don’t believe in religion, you have never known why. Perhaps, it is the effort-reward ratio that never appealed to you. It also seems a lot easier to go through life without a surveillance junkie overlooking your inconsequential existence. Sure He will be your Savior, but he also accepts credit cards.

You are not one of those militant atheists though. So you observe the quirks of the God-fearing tribe from a safe distance, without comment but with amusement. One such soul sits right across from your cube. Every day you see him offer elaborate prayers to a pantheon of godly beings that adorn a tray atop his rowing station. Only after a couple of minutes of this ritual does he sit down to work on excel sheets for 8 hours.

On this auspicious day, his ritual is broken by an even Higher Power. Mid-way through his fervent mutterings, an announcement erupts over the speakers. Today is the unveiling of a New Grand Design by the Powers that be, something about pan-organization efficiency. Most colleagues, still groggy, seem jilted as they look heavenwards to make sense of the ordinance. Like all historical occasions, Slaves are required to wear company colors. You, off course have forgotten. Your refusal to maintain calendar entries has cost you once again but the delusion of freedom it gives makes up for the inconvenience.

The announcement directs you to move to the parking lot. No other place in the building can accommodate all 200 slaves at the same time. This is going to be big.

You get an eerie feeling as you trudge along the congregation of working class people dressed in uniform. You are greeted by bright lights and instrumental music when you enter the lot. Without asking you for your approval, a group of volunteers slaps wristbands on you marking the occasion. Cattle tag attached, you spill over wherever the crowd takes you.

The Overlord is here today dressed in a three piece. He seems content overlooking the flock from the vantage of the podium. He wastes no time in getting down to business.

As fellow slaves behold with varied emotions; eagerness, bewilderment, anticipation, you are busy finding human walls to hide the non-compliance of your wardrobe.

Overlord’s speech seems well-rehearsed and almost evangelical. All the hallmarks of a covenant are there: Vague promises of utopia, certainty of penance required to get there, a routine prescribed for it and…hand holding. Yes, to mark this communion, all slaves are required to hold hands to form a chain of like dressed creatures as the theme song is played out. A video camera follows this human chain to capture the lameness for posterity. You know those stock photos of a differently colored stick figure standing out in a crowd or a green apple in a collection of red ones? You are the green/rotten apple here and there is no escaping it at least till the song is over.

Thankfully, it ends before homophobia takes over you completely. You wipe your hands and hurry to immerse yourself in the crowd. Far away, you see Head Slave’s head bobbing up through the sea of salaried humanity. He is coming towards you and he doesn’t seem happy. You can’t take more preaching on this day and make a run for it.

As the flock jostles to get through the alleyway, no one seems to have noticed the back exit. No one except you, you green apple! You make a dash for it and escape to the free air of a non-enclosed environment. You need to take a walk.

You don’t believe in religion, now you know why.

–          J.

Founder’s Day

In Big Brother, Cause, Office humor, SlavesInc, Wage Slaves on January 29, 2012 at 00:42

The giant screen imposes on your small-town sensibilities. Your lack of individuality mingles well with the thousand-plus crowd of slaves herded together. A familiar image of an old guy with a plain face greets you from every screen, poster and standee. He is clad in a tailored suit, the kind your father could never afford. From a certain angle, you guess he looks destiny-bound. But add a sliver to the side of his mouth and…Pure evil!

He is the founder of your slave-driving machine. Today, off course, is ‘Founder’s Day’. Most slaves are in a different mood today. Some are visually happier. This is probably because this is the one day you get paid without typing anything or staring at a back-lit screen. Some are anticipating better food at the event. Some are still indifferent. You…are trying to guard against the onslaught on your psyche. By now, the Old Man’s face is more familiar to you than that guy on the currency notes (…whatshisname?). With each passing year, the legend is pushed beyond the realms of possibility. If you are not discerning, after a couple of cycles of this propaganda, you will start believing your galley is God’s gift to mankind.

As the final session ends with the third video montage to his Greatness, your Founder, there is a surge of energy through the captive audience. As they hum along the corporate anthem, there is an eerie Big Brother feel to the whole affair. You hope the compliance is out of anticipation of complimentary refreshments at the end of the show and not out of subliminal mind control.

The buffet counters open to a wave of hungry subjects that carry you outside the hall/Panopticon. You can’t take this Orwellian nightmare any more. You hurry out with an imaginary Thought Police on your back. As luck would have it, you trip over a standee of the Old Man. As you lie on the floor, face to face with greatness. You realize he is just another old man, perhaps less anxious than you but very much mortal. You stand up and walk out, leaving the Old Man on the floor.

Finders keepers losers weepers

J.