Crap jobs; feedback loops

Prior to becoming a publisher full-time, I spent 20 years doing software development for a wide range of companies: uptight mega-corps, a dot-com during the web bubble in the early 200s, state government, county government, upstart private companies, and state universities. Before that, I worked in a chemistry lab. Prior to that, I cleaned toilets at the county courthouse in Manchester, KY.

Every job had their merits. At the courthouse as a teen, I learned the machinations of local government. In the chemistry lab, the sweeter it smells, the more likely you should clear out. Being a developer for the county government is the easiest and least paying job a developer can have.

I also can tell you every job had its bullshit. The toilets at the county courthouse were nasty. What’s nastier was the old woman who constantly harassed me, yanking at my jeans and always trying to slip her hands down my trousers.

My boss at the chemistry lab hated me, and I’ve never known why. While the other student workers prepped classes for lab, I had to rinse out the boss’s Coke cans, mop the lab floors, and always work the 7am shift.

I was fired from the upstart private company because I missed an “important” meeting when I elected to visit my cancer-stricken grandmother in the hospital while she was lucid (she was placed on a ventilator and morphine drip soon after and died a couple weeks later). Oh right, I almost forgot, my wife was 8 months pregnant with my second kid, too.

I quit my county job because I refused to lie about the program director’s unethical behavior.

I quit the job at the mega-corp because my boss accidentally sent an email to me meant for HR outlining his personal distaste for me and was giving me a poor assessment of my work because of it.

There is no way I’m alone when it comes to receiving bullshit. Switch my gender, change my skin color, and the bullshit gets amplified ten-fold. This I recognize.

Now that I work for myself, I think the bullshit has grown. The corporate shield no longer prevents some of the ridiculous from happening; now it just happens. The checks and balances are no longer the well-meaning but disinterested men and women in human resources. It’s the threat of internet dogpiling. The accumulation of well-timed lies, rumors, and half-truths that builds a sense of distrust and unease regarding the intentions of anyone. Part of this is caused by the political climate. Social media and civil unrest are on a feedback loop.

Trump and his supporters used this style of defamation to win a presidential election. My dad, a lifelong sensible moderate (a rare thing in the hills of Kentucky), now bows to the gospel of Trump. Many people I know in the business of writing and publishing engage in many of the same tactics. On both sides of the ideological spectrum. Were doing it before Trump. Are doing it after Trump. No one is immune to the power of the internet.

I sometimes wonder if the advent of the greatest communication tool ever invented–the internet–will be the cause of society’s decline. It’s too easy to dogpile when you’re anonymous and hiding behind a profile picture on Facebook or Twitter or a blog. It’s too easy to lie (or exaggerate) for the gain of your private agenda. It’s too easy to email everyone you know a falsehood/accusation in an act of pettiness.

This feedback loop grows stronger and stronger. Be vigilant. Stay out of its pull, or it’ll pull you under.

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