A Year’s Worth Of Three Billion Beats; and, If You Didn’t Get Bruises, Then You Didn’t Earn That Money.

I started this blog about two years ago. I started it because I was horrendously depressed. I wasn’t happy with my daily life. I thought this would be the best way for me to deal with that, to cope with the feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, and do something positive instead of just wallowing in my negativity. I was particularly unhappy with my job, my boss was wholly incompetent; he was never present – always out of state visiting another branch handling vague “business”, he did not know how to communicate, nor did he understand communication was the most important function of his job, he did not see his employees as humans but as pieces of equipment, and he thought that he was the most gifted individual west of the Mississippi. If you look at my first few posts, you’ll see that they were geared more toward venting these frustrations than anything else. On top of having a comically terrible job, I was in a very uncomfortable living situation, I was going to therapy four nights a week, and I was just generally miserable.

Lately I’ve been feeling pretty worthless and hopeless. I’ve been working increasingly more hours at work, what started as fifty hours a week jumped to fifty-five, then sixty, then sixty-five, then seventy, and so on. Alongside these increasing demands, my employer has been firing or forcing out employees like it’s going out of style. The company I work for was bought by a large international corporation about eighteen months ago, and things have been getting progressively worse since, but the last few months they’ve really kicked it into high gear. I’ve been feeling like my job is in jeopardy, I’ve been working pre-industrial revolution hours, I’ve been feeling ineffective and unimportant and trapped in a nightmare.

Outside of work things have been equally dissatisfying. I haven’t had the energy or the motivation to write much over the last couple months. I was spending some time on photography, but not much, and I lost the drive even to do that in the last few weeks. The few times I did bring myself to write or engage people in conversation, I was often confronted with apathy or vitriol or concerted effort to mischaracterize my statements and attack a straw-man. I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. Worse, I felt like I was just making things worse, that no matter how hard I tried, I’d never have an impact and I might as well just stop trying and take the path of least resistance. It was something like an identity crisis, or a crisis of faith, or something equally existential and fundamental, and I felt like I should just give up and find a way to be content as a cog in the careless machine.

I started this blog as a way to deal with these feelings, but not just to deal with these feelings. I started sharing in an attempt to have an impact on the world around me. Not that I think I’ll ever be anything other than a simple, silly man punching away at a keyboard and reaching a handful of folks at most, but I think that’s worth it. I’ve always been unhappy with the way the world works, and I’ve always fancied myself a part of the solution. But you can’t be a part of anything if all you do is sit on your couch and cry – something I probably do more often than you.

Yesterday I got an email from WordPress, telling me that this domain is officially a year old! This domain isn’t the first, but it is the one I’ve been using exclusively for at least a year now. What does that mean? Well, first, it means thank you, everyone who reads this. Second, it means that now is as good a time as any to rededicate, to center myself and rekindle my desire to make the world a better place. It also just so happens to coincide with a pretty low valley with regard to my personal emotional state, so I genuinely hope that I’m able to channel that into something positive.

Seeing as this blog started as a reaction to the feelings I had about my employer, I’ll write a bit about how I currently feel about my employer.

I made this the other day at work. My employer had done some really shitty things that morning and I wasn’t feeling like doing anything at all. Instead of sitting around being a negative butthead I decided I’d try and do something that would lift my spirits.

Agency is a thing that many of us value more than almost anything else. Our very foundations depend on agency and free will; many religions and ideologies are built on it, governments operate on the premise that we can choose one thing or another, personal relationships are so special because we decide who we love and how we show it. Corporations have figured out a way to strip us of that agency and make us feel good about it, getting us all to buy in to the idea that You gotta do what you gotta do, that I was just doing my job is an acceptable answer, and that If I don’t do it, someone else will. One of the ways they do this is to get you convinced that it takes a special type of person to make the type of decisions that you’re going to make. In reality you’re just trading in your agency and decision-making powers for a little bit of superficial respect and status, you’re nothing more than a replaceable cookie cutter, you’re doing exactly what they tell you and if you start making your own decisions they’ll find someone else to fill your role.

Over the last few months my boss has demonstrated that he has given up on himself and given in to the pressure to be nothing more than a yes-man. He has fired several people, people with valuable experience and skills and dependability. He has hired a few people to fill the vacancies, but not enough, and they don’t bring the same assets. Among the people he’s hired is a drug addict – I’m not opposed to drug use, but I am opposed to abuse, and this guy was caught red handed using drugs at work, but they fudged the urine analysis so they could keep a number on the spreadsheet. He has hired a person who is physically unable to perform the job – I’m not an ableist, but I do think it’s too much to ask to hire a person for a job that they cannot in fact do, I would be happy if my boss found another position for this person, but he is unwilling to do so. He has hired two people who require additional extensive training, and that’s all fine and well too, but it would have made more sense to just keep at least some of the people we had at least long enough to complete this training. He did all this, finding absurd technicalities to fire these veteran employees and bringing on seemingly anybody off the street, because the corporation has decided that they don’t want to spend what they were spending on payroll. He did all this because he feels like it’s necessary for him to keep his own job, and it’s true. He has to ignore his humanity and forego his agency – ostensibly the reason he was put in that position, his decision making abilities – he has to do exactly what he is told, nothing more and nothing less, or else he will lose his source of income and external validation, his family’s source of food and shelter.

This is starting to sound a bit silly, a disgruntled blogger railing against the oppressive corporate masters, but I’m serious here folks. The world is a pretty messy place right now, all the hate and distrust and misinformation, the violence and misery and tragedy. It seems like it’s all just a little too much for one person to take on. I get overwhelmed daily, I seem to be incapable of turning off my bleeding heart and by the afternoon I’m reduced to a mumbling idiot due to emotional overload. I get it. But, there is in fact something you can do, we can all do, right now!

I swore off social media about a decade ago, I saw it as nothing more than a toxic cesspool and I decided that I’d be better off without it. I feel good about that decision, it can be just that, but lately I’ve come to see it as something else as well. I got back on social media a few months ago, I figured that Instagram would be a good place to share my photography. I am not as active as I should be, but I have been making plans to increase my engagement, and also to find a solution to start selling prints rather than just relying on stock photography. I have started to see social media as a tool to encourage and support entrepreneurs, local businesses and their owners, content creators, and all types of creative, hard working people. All of these people are a part of the solution, and social media has become an important tool in their kit.

When you spend money with a large corporation, the vast majority of that money evaporates into the aether. Corporations care more about profit than they do the people who make it possible. They are designed to ensure that only the people at the very top benefit from the hard work done by the people at the bottom. They ask their employees to work themselves into physical and mental ailments and sickness, they offer the ultimatum – either capitulate and forfeit your agency and humanity, or stay in your place at the very bottom of the heap. We’ve all got to acknowledge the fact that nothing we do can be done separate from our agency and humanity, that trying to do so eventually leads to a loss of both.

The great thing I’ve found on social media is the local and independent business, the content creators, the valuable human beings who are adding value to our communities. When you spend your money with a local business, a much greater portion of that money stays in the community, where it can be put to work and recirculated to address any problems that exist within it. The thing that we all can do right now is to start making the decision to shop within your community. Need a windshield? Send me an email, I know a guy. Need a new RV gate? Need carpet, or carpentry, or your fridge repaired? I challenge every single one of you to shop local the next time you need something, before you look to Amazon or Walmart or Best Buy or any of the others. And if there is something you need that you can’t find, maybe that’s an opportunity for you to become an entrepreneur in the future.

The core cause of the state of the world today is rampant consumerism and our dependence on these mega corporations. Corporations allow us to be disconnected, they rely on apathy to function as they encourage thoughtless, heartless behavior. Stop happily handing these cold machinations your money, go out and find a real human being to do something that you need done.

Thanks for stopping in folks, I appreciate your time and attention. I apologize that this one got so long and confused, but I was just kinda in the moment. I’m going to get it up now before the depression boogeyman comes in and convinces me that I need to edit this and that and this turns in to just another saved draft. As I said above, I’m really hoping I can take advantage of this opportunity to refocus and rededicate and start pumping out the quality content that exists somewhere deep in my imagination. I’ll see you all soon! Go out and be the best version of you that you can possibly be!

Two photos I took while at work and feeling miserable. I couldn’t bring myself to do any actual work, so I was trying to overcome my negative feelings by being creative. I intended to stack and mask these together so it looked like it was just one me under the safety shower, but it looked kinda cool with them both at half visibility, so I left them like this for now.

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