This is a “meta-conversation” – “cultural criticism,” a cultural critique of the amorphous but definitely discernible general mainstream tech culture (and a prolonged one at that: so fair warning!) – which I think is very, very important to have…maybe it’ll get censored like the censored post that inspired it but I think it’s important that we don’t just be good lil’ automatons (despite all the faux “¡PASIÓN!” [see what I did there? 'Cause regular Anglo-Saxon “passion” is now common and thus lame] we’re supposed to espouse otherwise when it comes to tech and something equally harmless) in this Brave New Orwellian World where tech sweatshop workers are supposed to just keep their heads down and mouths shut because they’re really just prototypes for the robot programmers and AI coders to come – and don’t you just hate it yourself anyway when the machine sasses you with an unexpected run-time error (A.K.A. opinion)??
It just seems like for all the marketing hype, all the casually cheerful tunes with whistled melodies and hand-clapped beats accompanying the latest startup’s YouTube ad-cum-content, tech workers are actually treated like other workers, their subservience easily bought off and disguised by baubles such as free snacks, some game tables in the lounge, and a casual dress code.
And of course, most aren’t even afforded such “privileges,” but work even more anonymously for small businesses that don’t really appreciate tech and think of it as a glorified in-house building maintenance crew.
And that’s all too bad because there is a tremendous cultural shift happening right now and all the Zuckerbergs (who says he’s proud Facebook helps connect grannies while ignoring the spread of rumors which have lead to literal lynch mobs) and Bezoses (who’s puzzled by the emphasis on a work-life balance even as he forces his employees to take timed bathroom breaks and in one case miss a mother’s funeral for the sake of work) and Thielses (“Trump!”) and their smarmily exploitive neo-liberal cult-followers won’t save us despite all the primary colors and flat aesthetics. In fact, they constitute a huge part of exactly what ails us.
And that was brought home to me just now with a simple admonishment that’s innocuous enough on the surface but upon further thought is disturbingly indicative of our present predicaments: In one of the many threads about getting a job at last, someone made an off-hand remark about how a certain company in Guadalajara was a dream company to work for. One simple line. I in turn made a simple reply about with the city now allowing public sex, it’s a dream city city to work in! Two simple lines. This was quickly flagged and censored, my reply, as being inappropriate; I was advised to stick to commenting on coding subjects.
And that’s a very reasonable request, to be sure – but it seemed a bit uptight to clamp down on a quick simple quip. I guess with the increasingly corporate look with each new reiteration, maybe the ol’ campground high-jinks have also been superseded.
Then I thought of all the controversies in tech, and all the stuff going on in the United States and the world, too – the concomitant rise of extremists on both sides, people who believe they need to shut down the slightest deviating remark as if preserving clock cycles in the CPU of our allegedly shared Great Jungian Collective Unconscious…“the centre cannot hold…the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
Though it’s good that Google employees have been rising up against Pentagon contracts and censored search engines for China, that appears to be the exception. Most of tech seems to dutifully “stick to coding,” so to speak, because, guess what, they’re just digital sweatshop workers after all. Reminds me of my time in Army infantry – you go in feeling proud but you soon realize, as the old military saying goes, 'most “anybody’s son will do.”
Okay, folks can pick all this apart in every which way (“dude wtf???”) like a feminist enraged at being compared to a rose (or a black person being asked – gasp! – to show ID once in a random way), and I’ll certainly meet them half way by keeping myself off the forums (because this is who I am and I won’t apologize for it, either) – but suffice it to say, there really is nothing truly new under the sun.
Yes, yes: including this jeremiad of a reminder that technological development is both more important and less important than it assumes of itself, same as any other tyrant of old which commands praise and ignores its own costs: “men have become the tools of their tools.”