Saturday, July 14, 2012

A List of Words the Corporate World has Ruined for Me

I gave my notice at work the other day. It felt incredibly momentous. Like, fuck, even if something totally random or awful happens and I never move to NC (which is for sure going to happen, but IF) even then I would need to find a new job and reinvent my life.

 So it's really worrisome and stressful, but then the other deeper part of me is jumping up and down in glee, worked up like a mid 90s Canadian pop music video, because the corporate world isn't just "not for me", it's poison to "everyone." No matter how they try to humanize it, and this company I'm leaving tried a lot they really did, but boxes are still boxes. Inside for 12 hours is still inside for 12 hours. Social pressure is still social pressure. So my body is slowly becoming aware that the immediate stress of being worried about money is nothing in comparison the weight of long term stress I didn't even know was there till it started melting. I have a dying glacier on my chest it turns out. I was so concerned about the sharp little rocks at the terminus, and I completely forgot about the heft of the snow, and now it turns out I have all these grooves and channels cut into me permanently. So, to continue this laborious metaphor towards it's awkward end - the only way I'm going to heal from this job is to find a way to fill those cuts in with - lakes? Yeah, okay, lakes.

  A List of Words I Have Learned to Hate, and an Attempt to Rescue Them for Future Use:

CHOICE: There is something insidious about offering someone a choice. A choice is a jewel toned snake on an apple tree branch.  It's a very serious sacred thing, a split second conflict that can change a whole story's direction. The levels of import are infinite. It's biologically stressful. Is there really any physical difference between choosing between the colors of a dress, and choosing whether or not to file the missiles at the oncoming enemy spaceship? Condemnation and superiority are almost inherent, especially when it's someone actually presenting you with a choice, asking you a question. So how awful then when I have to take such a beautiful dangerous concept as a choice, and reduce it to a line I have to legally say to each customer 500 times a day or the state will fine us?

 See also: OPTION

COMPLIANCE: The quality of bending to another's will, of being willing, entirely subject and passive, but yet with this thin overtone of "I'm barely tolerating this for reasons I may or may not tell you." With-Pliable Body and Mind. It's kinda hot, right? Compliance is a sexy fucking word. It becomes significantly less sexy after 7 years of webinar meetings about it.

FOCUS: I wonder if it is even possible to pay close attention to a task without massive amounts of coffee? I bet it will be, once it's something I actually have emotion invested in. Cause thinking of a brain focusing, narrowing it's gaze like a camera or a telescope or a laser, that's super exciting and mystical. But if the object being focused on is whatever tiny inconsequential word changes they made to last years presentation on customer service expectations so they could make it seem like a brand new initiative this year, well that kind of focus for sure gives you brain cancer. Maybe eye cancer first, and then brain cancer.

QUALITY: This is a super evil crazy corporate word because it fails in two ways. First, here are the things that one should think of when we think quality: paintings, art, autos, furniture, houses, standards of living, air and water, food, girls and boys. Good healthy life affirming things. Chances are though that if you work for a corporation, no matter what their product is, it isn't true quality. It's probably only middling. Their sheer size alone will prevent them from having quality, and yet they will TALK ABOUT IT ALL THE TIME like it already exists, like it is their god given trait, sent from on high to fulfill their destiny. Every company is the Best At What They Do when they are talking to their employees.

Second, especially in a customer service based job like mine, oftentimes you are mostly judging your own quality, as an employee and therefore a person, because to the company your job performance is directly linked to your quality as an sentient individual. And your quality is based on a set of virtues determined by some team of communication majors in some far away department, and then approved by several other departments, and edited until all the meat is gone and only the bones and faint fog of flavor remains of what once might NOT have been a complete piece of HR horse shit. To have someone extorting you to judge your own quality in this environment seems abusive and malignant, like there's no way you could fight against those self esteem issues forever, eventually they would leach out into the rest of your real life, and you would find yourself actually thinking of yourself and your children in terms of attendance or team spirit.

RESOURCE: My resources are NOT my teammates or the horribly designed web page of guidelines. Resources are things like wind and water, and also maybe magic golden eggs which when you break them open produce things like tiny mice dressed in doublets who can go steal that necklace from the witch's bed table. THAT'S a resource. A feather that allows you to ride the North Wind, THAT'S a resource. A database is more like, a trap.

NETWORK: There is probably no way to save this word. We can only hold it as an example of what we're trying to save all these other words from. I am bitter about network. I feel like it could have been so cool if we had just kept it to ourselves.


  1. Team.

    It changed from "a team is something fun that you belong to and maybe you play soccer together and sometimes win" to "the people you just happened to be shackled to and anyone of you would saw everyone else's legs off if that meant getting away."

  2. YES, and I totally use it in this entry without even realizing what I'm doing, and that's so evil.

  3. I love you for this. You don't even know...

  4. We need to vertically integrate the creative technology department with an alternative application.

  5. Vertical: The aspiration of great heights, the defying of gravity.

    Integrate: To meld and mix and blot and blend.

    Creative: The miracle of a supernova happening among hundreds of neurons inside your bones, which leads to an act of communication among humanity.

  6. "a team is something fun that you belong to and maybe you play soccer together and sometimes win"

    Is it not that it changed to something more like:

    "a team IS something fun - yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes (if you might disagree, jump cliff now) yes, yes, and you play soccer together, and let me tell you, you love it, or win every acting Oscar that could be awarded as the sweat drips into your perfect team smile, there is no maybe in this world and never admit the existence of past worlds where people claim maybe existed in, and in respect of win, surely you see by now there is no such thing as sometimes (excluding the necessary stamina building, in this real harsh world we excel in and were made for thriving in, of course, while harsh is irrelevant at the end of the day and only used to show that it is us and could only be us who this world is for as no-one else could survive as we do, all others fall)."

    OK, this is too cynical, truthfully. And there are 2 more personal qualifications: 1. I live in the UK which I think is harsher, especially in respect of groups and group activity; and 2. I don't actually work due to illness. So you are seeing the "insight"? (who knows) of someone "excluded", and who possibly thinks he couldn't cope in the world of work anyway (especially when putting the kettle on can be hard enough).

    If this comment is too dispiriting, please think of it as random consciousness streaming, in a vortex who's meaning is about the benefit of expression (whatever expression) for health, and keeping or becoming well.

    What we, in mirth or deviation, make fun of or seem to over criticise is only for positive things. This isn't actually Stepford, after all, and people strapped to Stepford worlds I can only think get steadily further away from true wellness of being all the time.


    Anyway, great to read your post today, Bridget. (I just found your blog again recently - visited some time ago and lost it). Sending really good wishes at a crucial time.

  7. Don't blame yourself for the human mistake involving the word "network" in recent times. It's a mistake and always will be.

    "You should go and network, for there is where you find productivity, creativity, help, achievements".

    A network is, for example, harry, sally, susan, sam, manuel. It makes no sense to say "go and harry, sally, susan, sam, manuel". It's senseless.

    People can pretend forever that it makes sense. That it means - go and create something like "harry, sally, susan, sam, manuel". Or go and find the network "harry, sally, susan, sam, manuel" that you previously created and have on ice. But there is no other word, are no other words, for what the order is suggesting you do.

    To do what? You can talk to someone and ask advice, and maybe try to sell them something or link services or something. You can talk etc. to a few people.

    You never know the result. "Network" implies result(s). It implies that you are managing people, managing society in order to fit in, as everyone else does. It can imply that you need this to be able to manage your own life, and if you don't, you are not "managing". It implies losing self identity and worth to become faceless among the other facelesses who achieve by being in that, or at least, being able to drop in and out effortlessly.

    Yeah, it's scary. That it's implied there's no such thing anymore as carefully, naturally, as time goes on, choosing a few friends, a few more aquaintances, and, indeed, who you talk to. That that's how it is. That, from the other side, if someone does not talk to you, you're not 'networked' and are doing something wrong. That you talk to everyone or you are telling people that they are not networked or not networking. That you treat everyone the same way, the same cardboard way with some genuine feeling put in (as you still have some of you left).

    Very worth thinking about, discussing, even if you can handle the worlds relevant to "network" well.

  8. ... On the other hand, if you break things down, it's all about normal things. It's just the term seems to imply so much that doesn't fit in to a natural life. And maybe seems to have created ways of living, accepted ways, norms even, that don't seem to bear out as natural.

    These ways may even be easier than natural life, if you kind of shut parts of yourself out, while that is really going the wrong way.

  9. ... Oh, I suppose just break it down into something normal every time. Forget the implications. Forget especially the sense of compulsion and also value within faceless "networking" in itself. Find the original face.

    Rule the word "network" by honouring the words which came before it.

  10. Best of luck to you Bridget. Start your own business. Those words will take on whole new meanings.


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