So for a few days now there’s been all this talk of this Yelp/Eat24 staffer in San Francisco. She wrote a blog (an open letter) to her company’s CEO, basically explaining in her own personal situation what a fucked up system we’re all trapped in. Naturally (because corporations will always win), she was fired shortly after posting the blog. In turn, a hundred million people have decided to have their own opinion on the matter (myself included!). One of the more popular responses (one that I saw several friends sharing) was an older, allegedly wiser, woman’s response—essentially ripping this young Talia to shreds for (how I see it) problems that have been institutionalized in our society thanks to corrupt governments and corrupt corporations.
Basically: we’re all fucked. And we’re all fucked so much that most of us can’t even see it.
We’ve been led to believe—by our parents, by our mentors, by our schools and our companies—that a job is a job and that we should be grateful. Our economy sucks, hey. But if you can make some money, even if it’s minimum wage (or even something more suspiciously less legal than minimum wage), we should be grateful. Companies (especially start-ups) nefariously give free drinks and lunches and snacks to hide the fact that we just don’t make enough money anymore. Our governments have failed us.
This week, Apple has been in the news a lot for defending their right to reject the FBI’s request to unlock their iPhone’s security system. I saw a tweet during this shit-storm by everyone’s favorite whistleblower, where he points out the irony of the situation at end.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) February 17, 2016
Basically: we’re all fucked.
We’ve fucked up our world, our government, our society. We’re all to blame here, really. Sure, my parents’ generation really screwed some things up. And the ’80s weren’t much of a help. But even today, we’re all still allowing our politicians to fuck with our lives, our future. I’ve heard it before—I shouldn’t expect the world to work the way I want it to. <sarcasm>I’m a millennial, so I’m probably full of feelings of entitlement.</sarcasm> But, you see, that’s not the problem here. My desire for something more, for a better world not just for myself, but for others too—that’s seen as a problem. We’re meant to feel ashamed for wanting it. We’re told we should put our heads down and work harder instead. Others before us didn’t have it, so why do I feel entitled to it?
I’ll tell you why. Because we’re all fucked and I’m angry about it. And I was led to believe I can make change happen. There’s that American dream I was spoon-fed all my life. That belief I could be anything. I don’t think that anymore, because I’m alive, it’s 2016 and I’m no longer naïve. My government is a mess. Our world is a mess. Our future is a mess.
I really can’t express my anger enough. I’m so tired of this society we’ve allowed to let happen. And you know what the worst part is? I’m not even sure what I can do to help anymore. I don’t see a solution. I don’t see a savior. Watching the USA primary elections move forward makes me angrier and more sad. I have no hero. No one in my government I can trust.
And so that’s why when I read the response-to-the-response-to-the-blog tonight, I got excited. A little. In this meta-response, the author points out that empathy is key here. We live in a fucked up world. And, as individuals, we’re all just trying to survive. And when we realize we’re in this fucked up place, and when we decide to talk about it—out loud, in public, on Twitter—we’re faced with those people who try to shut the door in our face, to mute us, to mock us. What are we, in the fucking Matrix here, or what?
It’s not normal to have to work extra jobs to simply survive. It’s not normal to have to miss out on holidays, on family time, on private, personal experiences—for the sake of a job. Or worse: for the sake of solving crushing debt. Read any travel blog or news site and you see how the “sharing economy” is all the rage. It’s a trend we all love to love. But what is it actually doing for us, for our humanity? We’ve turned couchsurfing into airbnb, hitchhiking into uber. We’ve taken those things which made us human, and turned them into capitalistic enterprises which are cannibalizing what it means to be human. To be an individual. To be free.
I know too many people in situations out of their control. Unable to get work, unable to live somewhere they feel safe. Hell, I’ve been in similar situations myself. Instead of empathy, we’re told to “buck up” or—worse—to simply “deal with it.” As if we can work our way out of our troubles. All these “digital nomads” and self-made, self-proclaimed entrepreneurs (especially “internet-entrepreneurs”) sell a dream that’s just not viable for everyone. And they know it—but truth be told, they’re just trying to survive too.
We’re drowning here. And I don’t see a life preserver just yet. But until that time comes, can we please all just calm the fuck down? And have some trust in your neighbor. If they say they’re having trouble, they’re having trouble. Why do we trust our governments and our corporations before we trust our neighbors, our friends, our family? As individuals, we’re all just here—looking for meaning, for a certain quality-of-life. I won’t say it’s not fair. Because we’ve let this happen. (And I’m not talking about the millennial “we;” I’m talking about the collective, 6-billion-person-strong global humanity “we.”) We’ve fucked things up.
Let’s just try to move forward. Let’s try to be a bit more human.
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