Tuesday, September 23, 2008

CNN Is the Devil

I'm wondering who, besides me, sits in their cubicles and reads the news. From time to time I do, and some days I get so DEPRESSED that I want to die.

This has led me to the conclusion that the news is the devil. Once upon a time I wrote about the devil room in the house Stoker and I bought -- which we converted to a harvest yellow in an attempt to overcome its natural gloom. So, I'm very familiar with the devil. The devil likes things to be black and dark and depressing. The devil room was black and dark and depressing . . . and it sucked the light out of the world. It took grueling hours of work to exorcise the demon and make the room livable and friendly and . . . yellow. Honestly? I wish the room wasn't yellow now. I'm probably going to have to go back and paint it again. Maybe a nice, flat black.

Anyway, the point is, I was sitting here, depressed as hell, when it dawned on me that the news is the devil, and I wanted to share this revelation with the masses, not that they'll listen, because . . . well, they're the masses and I'm not Bono or Oprah. And I guess it depends on your definition of devil. Mine is this: the devil ruins my life; the devil makes me want to give up; the devil robs me of hope; the devil makes me do my worst because I'm no good anyway.

Sound familiar? It sounds like a chant. Like I'm writing terrible lyrics to a heavy metal riff. Maybe that's why it sounds familiar. In any case, why do I read the news? I've been learning to cope with the daily onslaught of horrors, but some days they're just too terrible. Like today. Here's a sampling of stuff I read: babies in China dying because of poisoned formula; man on trial for brutally beating his ex-girlfriends' cat to death; woman still searching for her husband who disappeared over a year ago in Iran; Finnish guy murdering college students; E! online writing "obvi" to mean "obviously" (you can see why this one is so upsetting).

Ok, I don't mean to contribute by sharing the horrors myself. But I must be a masochist because I keep going back. And if I was more of an optimist, maybe I'd see more hope in those stories, hope for man's redemption or something, that there is still goodness in people, that they're all trying, they're all doing the best they can, that sometimes good people just get misled. The news doesn't cover that part of the story, and why would they? Sensationalism is what sells, right?

These days journalists suck. They have twenty seconds to pump out a story and thus their writing is awful and the stories are chopped up to fit the sensational tripe that attracts viewers. They have no pride in their stories. It's a news-mill. So what we end up with is a skewed perspective of the world and how it's doing. It feels like hell out there if we listen to the media, but it is it really any different than it's ever been?

At first I was sort of joking about calling the news the devil. I thought it would be funny to sound very fundamental, like an I-live-in-a-compound-with-my-religious-compatriots zealot that the news LOVES to crucify. I don't. That is to say, I obviously read the news and participate in the machinery of our great over-newsed society and so I'm clearly not one of THEM. I'm a news junkie. It's in my blood, I need a fix often, I've fallen prey to the CNN drug cartel. I can't believe this crap is legal. And now I realize I'm right. The news IS the devil.

Quite honestly, I do believe in a fallen angel named, variously, Lucifer, Beelzebub, Satan, Mephistopheles, Ned Flanders, etc. I think it's important to remember the things unseen that have the power to sway us, including the Internet. Can you see it? No! You see a manifestation of it, this page for example, is not real. It's ephemeral. You would not be able to touch it if you tried. It's unreal, yet its effects on you are real. Right now you may be livid with rage that someone might suggest that there is such thing as a fallen angel or that the news does more negative than positive in our society because you worship at the altar of the holy fount of CNN. Proving my point, this page is nothing. It's an idea, and yet it has the power to influence you. The most real and powerful things in our world are the unreal, the unseen. Think about it. (Yes, yes, so true, I am a genius philosopher.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Office Doomsday Narrowly Avoided!

At least for me. Some people weren't so lucky. I feel very fortunate at the same time as feeling like a huge ass.

Doomsday in the Office

Well today is doomsday for me. I have a meeting at one o'clock where I will supposedly find out what will be happening with the project I've been working on. About two months ago the manager of my department called us to a meeting out of the blue and told us we'd be putting everything on hold for sixty days while they determined what our future would be.

It was one of those moments of exquisite alertness. Prior to the sudden meeting, we had all just read the president's quarterly report. It was full of awful metaphors about the workplace being like a dance and other terrible pop culture references to things like reality shows. On the one side we're congratulated for being so fruitful and making loads of money and meeting goals, and on the other side he slaps us across the face with a 2x4 for not making MORE than the goal.

And then out of nowhere, in this report, he mentions my unit and says there's room for improvement with us.

And so we were all talking about that and fretting sarcastically that we were about to get the axe as we walked to the meeting -- because why would he even mention my unit if it wasn't some kind of corporate foreshadowing? And one person* brought up the incredibly funny stuff from Arrested Development about Black Fridays, and how George Bluth had everyone take their computers out to a moving truck, telling them they were going to be getting new computers, only to close the door of the truck once the old machines were in and tell everyone they're fired. Hilarious.

Office humor is the best, except for when it's your reality. We joked about getting the axe and then the manager of my unit told us, her face grim and unreadable, that they were putting a hold on all new contracts and other stuff. I was listening mostly to my breath and how quiet it was. Noticing how everything froze and instead of feeling upset, I felt this horrifying calm. I was shocked. I've never been so aware of how my chest rises and falls with each breath. I was suddenly aware of the sickening sound of the white noise they pump into the office.

I don't even remember a time when I imagined my life would be part of a corporation. I never did. I never knew what it meant. I never understood that my mom and dad would leave for work and sit in cubicles or offices and tap at keyboards and make up ideas and design things and get paid and get benefits, all to come home at night and feel a measure of security.

It makes sense to think of the farmer out in the fields, tilling and planting and hoeing and harvesting. It makes sense to think of a man herding sheep and tending them for their wool and feeding them grass and hay and caring about the weather because it affects his livelihood in a way much more urgent than whether or not he'll need an umbrella to keep the rain off his business attire. Those things, farming, herding, taking care of animals because you both benefit, those are intrinsic. They've been a part of our identities far longer than the cubicle and concrete.

When man relied on Nature to provide rain for his crops and sunshine and good health for his animals, it inspired reverence in him for the power of the unseen. There was spiritual potential for him because there were forces beyond the realm of man at work. People took part in the role of creation and something spiritual went on.

The office life is dead. We work in cold hard spaces with cold hard machines and it makes us cold and hard inside. Doesn't it feel that way sometimes?

Anyway, I know I'm romanticizing the things of the past. I know there were probably lots of lonely farmers in the world who really wished to buy a suit and go to Wall Street and sell their souls for wealth. I'm just really bitter for feeling like my future is possibly in the hands of someone who doesn't know its worth.