I’m a big fan of radio documentaries and magazine shows and one of my favourites is a show on CBC Radio One called Spark . They discuss how technology changes our personal experience, human interactions, and how those impact our direction as a society. A while back they were discussing a new trend which saw companies suing their own employees for what they or their friends post on social media, like facebook or twitter.
Say you’re an executive for some big corporation. Well don’t take your pants off at your buddy’s stag, because if someone posts a photo of it and a customer gets offended, the corporation you work for might sue you for hurting their reputation. Or lose a major customer by posting a tweet about how terrible this or that city is, and then have your employer sue you for the loss of business and/or its impact on their stock price. There was a lawyer on the show and she was suggesting that this is concept is reasonable because the company has a right to protect its value.
So… let me get this straight: Human Beings shouldn’t have fun and enjoy their lives because that might lower the value of the company they work for? Okay. I’ll entertain that idea. But let’s look closely at that.
So first off, let’s define our terms. A “company” is a person in law, and yet of course this person does not actually exist. It is a legal construct—a basic agreement between people, much like money or the economy. A company is literally a thought we all agree to just like money is a delusion we all share that slips of paper can store the value of our work.
Money is just paper—and rarely even that these days. In fact, of all the money in the world, only about 10% of it is tangible, physical money. Most of it is just numbers in computers and on ledgers. But there’s no such thing as a number either. You can’t go into the desert and dig me up a Number Six. The value of money comes from the thinking we attach to the symbol, be it a piece of paper or numbers on a screen. Money is an idea.
That’s how billions and billions of dollars just vanishes from the economy relatively frequently. Money is an idea, just like time, temperature , justice and democracy are. This also goes for the abstract idea of a company itself. Even though Walmart is a person-in-law, there is no actual thing that is Walmart.
If everyone on Earth dies and aliens land here, they cannot find Walmart. They can find buildings with the word Walmart written on them, and they can find contracts that say likewise, but the entity that is Walmart could not be found without people around to think it into existence each new moment. And even then, it wouldn’t exist for the aliens until they learned to think similar thoughts.
Okay, so we have a company that is an idea, fighting to win profits which are represented by money, which is also an idea. So essentially, the woman in the radio piece was suggesting that living, breathing, life-experiencing Human Beings should subjugate their own personal freedom and essentially become slaves to those thought-based companies?! And they should do all of that to maintain the fictional value of a that fictional company/person in law, and yet all of those fictions were created by the slaves that are now subjugated to it!? Wow. We have met the enemy and he is us.
The casualness that the lawyer used in suggesting the validity of that idea was creepy. It’s not the blind corporate line that’s strange; it’s that she didn’t even notice that she had just put the needs of a fake human ahead of the needs of real ones.
If these are our priorities we should not hope for a better world. Seriously. How would that be possible if we’re more interested in maintaining our fictions than in feeding actual starving children? Would 30,000 kids be dying every day of simple treatable diseases if they lived in Germany, or Japan, or Australia? It is an odd thing that we would rather see our economy grow rather than let real human beings eat, or that companies stop people from dancing on tables with lamp shades on their heads.
We are volunteering for self-imposed slavery, where our master is an ethereal idea that we ourselves created. In so many ways it is unbelievable. It’s so, so, so crazy and yet almost everyone believes that world of symbols is real, which means belief in it appears to be sane. That’s why it’s hard for people get healthy. They keep getting advice from unconscious people who act like their illusions are real.
Meanwhile, the people who can see how ephemeral it all is appear to be the crazy ones. But better to be healthy than thought so. So what you? Are you really going to do this? Are you personally not going to grasp reality until you die? Are you going to move these invisible entities around and not actually live? Because living is a verb, it’s not the movement of symbols in our heads or in computer memory.
If you work too much, you won’t know that your spouse is more important than you job until you lose your spouse. Then how unimportant your job always was becomes clear, and you realize that you were just forced to think about your job more often, and that made it feel more important than needs at home. So stay conscious. Do not walk like a robot through a maze. Raise your awareness and work outside the box. Because you are the only person who really knows where you’re going anyway.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.