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Archive for the ‘Big Brother’ Category

The Cold Comfort of Conspiracy Theories

In Big Brother, conspiracy theories on March 17, 2020 at 22:53

I used to follow all conspiracy theories when I was in school and early on in college. Everything form alien landings to the pyramids to alien landings on the pyramids. I must have been the biggest X-flies fan at least in India. So much that later I even tolerated all seasons of Californication, just because ‘Mulder’ was in it. Every seeker goes through that phase of wondering if everything fits as neatly as science describes it. But it is important not to get stuck there. Most hot spots have been debunked from the Bermuda triangle to Loch Ness. But authors find new gaps to sell their paperbacks in. Till the Amazon Rain forest is completely stripped and Antarctica melts completely, this industry is going to be raking it in, then speculation will move to the moon.

I have realized such authors and ‘experts’ are not selling inquiry or intrigue. They are selling an escape. Part of why people don’t accept reality is because it involves taking responsibility for how shit your life is or has become. But…if the government is controlling our minds, if the Mayans used DMT or if aliens exist then all bets are off. It debunks society as we know it and I am suddenly absolved of all the bad decisions I have made. That is more important than whether Atlantis ever existed. People would rather chase these Unicorns than suck it up and wrestle their to-do list that has become longer than a life sentence.

Rumors are the primary form of human communication. We can call them stories to make it sound better. But it is still the primate herd behavior complicated by religion and multiplied by technology. Even within scientific communities dogma can take years to overturn. Because stories always sell more than science, even among scientists.

Some people are disappointed that after landing on the moon in the 60s we do not have flying cars yet. Some feel we are actually going backwards in time as a civilization. But in many ways it is a miracle that we are still here. In a world with multiple existential threats and a population that makes decisions entirely on emotions, any scientific progress is a huge triumph. But even if there is another Renaissance of rational thought we will still be unhappy. We will still believe in occult practices, Big Foot and that the moon landing was a hoax. Because reality is never enough. Even if space travel becomes common it will start feeling mundane in a couple of months. The only thing bigger than the universe is the ego and there is no black hole big enough to contain it.

Questioning everything is great. But most goose chases tend towards delusion. Another form of this delusion is believing in past glory, from family trees to Hindu Rashtra. Always believing that things were somehow better and more pure in the past. This is also a deflection of one’s own follies. Perhaps every Yug calls itself KalYug to pardon itself of its hypocrisy. A decent reading of history will tell you that it’s all peaks and troughs and not straight slide upwards or downwards. This also mirrors the nostalgia most people have for their childhood contrasted with the contempt they have for their corrupted adult life. Between ‘Adulting is difficult’ and ‘Stay in touch with your inner child’ most of us never actually grow up. And the comforts of modern life don’t let us.

As a person of science with a certificate to prove it, I always fall for cold hard facts over rosy stories. But the market works otherwise. Conspiracy theories about Coronavirus will reach fantasy proportions but people will not practice social distancing. It is somehow easier to swallow the horror of unbelievably evil governments working in amazingly synchronized fashion to effect genocide than to accept that we are still at the mercy of nature and life is as fragile and precarious as it has ever been. It hurts the entitlement Genesis has instilled in us. The Dictatorship theory is more acceptable because it fits in the more tried and tested Good v’s Evil format. Millions of innocent people may die but eventually ‘we win’.

The world is way more complex than a Nolan movie and life is way more random than a Tarantino flick. Finding wonder in that itself, accepting your fragility is the first step and it’s difficult. Thinking the mystery of creation will reveal itself through an acid trip or a podcast is as foolish as it is arrogant. Self-awareness is a lifelong journey of realizing your insignificance. But once you are on that path, life can seem more wonderful and opportune than any Coronavirus conspiracy.

  • Punit Pania

Power and Money

In Artist, freelancing, Big Brother on November 6, 2018 at 18:47
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Power and money have an almost inherent tendency of accumulating. Sinking. Like gravity. One can try to impede this coalescence with great effort. But the resistance is short-lived, at best. So heavy is the weight of its logic that it does not let trivialities like honesty and justice get in the way.
In fact, it is almost childish to expect the rich and powerful to take a stance. Most of them have got where they are by abetting or turning a blind eye to crime,if not indulging in it themselves. And what is crime anyway? It is merely a violation of generally accepted behavioral aesthetics? And aesthetics are always aspired to but seldom achieved. We expect too much out of our judicial institutions. The sheer abundance of injustice in the world is proof enough of how naive our aesthetics are.
The few noble souls who do manage to get a foothold in circles of power can’t help but get colored by its excess; either out of compliance or for camouflage. The only balancing force is other centers of power. Which is why very often injustice is only replaced by overcompensation. In the French revolution many innocent heads rolled and the Arab Spring ended up being just a blip on the radar.
Power endures because its only allegiance is to itself. In that sense, it is truly agnostic across eons, cultures and religious garbs. And sometimes it merges with a competing center of power. They circle each other in envy and magnetism, each attracted by the other’s darkness. Like two black holes destined to become one. Even the faintest ray of light can’t escape from the absolutism of its influence.
The only hope is to observe it from afar. For to play its game is to be coloured by its darkness. All our heroes have fallen, if there were any to begin with. From tainted godmen to flawed artists blood is on all of our hands. Especially the ones who proclaimed themselves the cleanest. The only thing larger than the universe is the ego. And there is no black hole big enough to contain it.
The only real heroes then, are people you have never heard of. People who lived and died in utter obscurity. Not because of their mediocrity but by virtue of the incredible lightness of their being. By their shunning of greed, envy and possessions. By their acceptance of oblivion as the only eventual certainty. And by their joy in merely understanding the world without scrapping for souvenirs. The shroud has no pockets and the universe has no memory.
– Punit Pania

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.