Logical Techno Manners: The Modern Master is Not Your Mother and the Modern Slave is Not Your Friend
We’ve all suffered below him. The back-slappy, happy manager who calls you buddy, wonders why you aren’t smiling and crawls all up in your bidness. And we’ve all suffered above them. The goofy, flare-wearing worker who believes friendliness is a substitute for competence.
At my job, I was once smoking Dunhill’s Aperitif blend and a co-worker looked at the tin.
“Which one are you?” she asked.
“What time is it?” I replied.
Although we live in a society where we are masters one minute and slaves the next, we have almost completely lost the ability to decently perform either role. I blame the boomers. Their primitive notions of equality have not actually created equality. They’ve simply added a layer of bullshit to our unequal relationships.
It’s no longer enough that you do your job well. You now have to hold your master’s hand while they do theirs. It’s no longer enough that you give an order to a servant. You now have to smile and express interest in their humanity. It’s an utter waste of time.
People have always been uncomfortable being commanded but now they are uncomfortable with command. They either act like blatant assholes or pernicious douchebags. They think they need to shout at you or be your best buddy to get anything done. The sad thing is, given the state of the serving classes, they are often right.
When it comes to master-slave relations, all the trust is gone.
Our forebears were able to trust the system they’d created. It was static, oppressive and simple. Everyone knew their place and they sure as hell better know they knew it. That, of course, had its own problems. But we now inhabit a different sort of hell.
Although our system is oppresive it is not static and it i far from simple. Everyone is a special little snowflake who either expects exceptional effort or exceptional treatment without understanding the conventions. This has left us in a blizzard of incompetence.
In my own life, I’ve spent quite a few hours on both sides of the bar, being served and serving. And if there’s one thing I have come to appreciate on either side, from master or servant, it is formality. Defined as a “rigorous or ceremonious adherence to established forms, rules, or customs”, it is also a way of maintaining respectful distance.
Being an asshole is well understood. Shouting, bullying and molesting the servants is self-evidently an abuse of power and therefore wrong. But what most people fail to understand is that being too friendly is also a form of assholery, an abuse of power and an act of entitlement. Like kissing a whore on the mouth, it is mutually demeaning.
It demeans the servant because they cannot actually be your buddy. Since school, you’ve had it pounded into your head that we’re all equals and, perhaps on some abstract level, this is true. But when money is being exchanged with a wage-earner who has a manager breathing down their neck and a job at stake, it certainly is not. There is no equality there. You are free to be you. They are not free to be them.
Pretending that they are is insulting.
Believe me, you do not want anything except lies from your servants. Nothing ruins dinner like the truth.
I suspect that most people who are too friendly believe their behaviour is not only fine but commendable. Being fundamentally condescending, they are too ignorant to realize that the staff has to pretend to like them. The servants have no choice but to endure. They are not free to say what they want and what they often want to say is: Why are you wasting my time?
When a customer who is not a regular or a buddy calls me buddy – the regulars and my buddies know better— I often think: So tonight I’m going to come over to your place, you’ll serve me drinks and food then I’ll pay you for it? Is that friendship?
When they ask my name, I often wonder what possible reason they have for doing so. That information is irrelevant. Like a stripper, I use a fake one. I have to go home with my name. I do not want it to carry you along like some brain-eating parasite.
Although I can imagine a few situations where a customer might actually need to know my name, I cannot imagine a single situation that I want to be a part of. A major portion of my job is making sure such information remains absolutely irrelevant. If you need my name, perhaps to shout it at me or to lodge a complaint with my superior, then I’ve lost control of the room, made a major error or you’re a simple prick. I have no need to be reminded of these situations.
To be a good master, one must cast off all the conventions of equality. One must understand and appreciate their power without abusing it. They must understand and appreciate the condition of their servant. It is servitude. There is no need to pretend otherwise. Simply respect your position and its incumbent responsibilities. Your job is not to be a friend. It’s to be sensible and just.
Do not get familiar and in time you may become familiar.
Likewise, to be a good servant, one must understand that no one should ever have to care about your personal problems nor hear your unsolicited opinions. They should simply be able to give an order –a reasonable order— and have it followed. You are furniture. You simply need to work.
Just as the master must be just, the servant must be trusty.
Like it or not, we all have roles and it’s best to play them well. There’s no telling when they will reverse.
(Note: Tumblr is entirely counter-intuitive to me. I began blogging with LJ. Hence, my posts here will undoubtedly be less…sleek, than other’s. Instead of beating my head against my comp, I’m settling with just links, and no vids. I just work here. Blame management.)
Yep. Child of the eighties. Transformers. Kreepy Krawlers. Garbage Pail Kids. My Pet Monster. Inhumanoids. Boglins. You name it, I was obsessed with it. I still geek out every now and then, over those bygone gems, but with the rerelease of MADBALLS, I GLEE-creamed my fanboy panties. Wait…no, that’s totally how it went down.
A little history: http://www.x-entertainment.com/articles/0678/
Original ad: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvfYcZ8GAVM
New advert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEhYenr5sCU&feature=related
Official relaunch site: http://www.madballs.com/home.action#
They’ve even cropped up in a recent video game: http://kotaku.com/5124059/madballs-added-to-game-that-was-about-angry-balls-anyway
Yes, there was an old 8bit game too:
Their return pleases me. Instead of teaching my son the pleasures of fishing…I’ve introduced him to gross-out toys. Just as important, I know you’re murmuring in agreement with me. I can hear the din with my uber cyborgy Internaut ears. There was a particular sickness infused in the toys of the Goonies decade. A gooey, sticky, boggish ick factor sadly missing from today’s bevy of bland playtime offerings, geared towards wee ones.
So, what the hell happened? Why’ve we become so sanitized? This is a larger issue, clearly, but let’s, for the moment, investigate the matter from this perspective. I remember talking Freddy Krueger dolls on shelves, people. Not “action figures”. DOLLS. Does everything our children consume have to be sugary safe and Disneyfied? I’m the last person to pass gas in front of ANYONE. But c’mon, poo humor is funny. I defy you to prove me wrong. More importantly, KIDS think that stuff’s hilarious. My gobs can’t go a day without giggling over something toilet-related, or similarly gross subjects. It’s what children do.
My boy’s been so keen on MadBalls that he’s got half the new run, through being paid for happily doing chores he typically loathes. None of his other fave toys have ever had him chomping at the bit, the way this disgusting lot has. If bell bottoms can come back into style and stay, let’s hope this hint of resurgence in 80s gruesome playthings is a sign of more to come. I’m tired of kids fixating on Bakugan and Bratz.
When I was a kid, our home shared its main door with a copper shop. The owner was an adorable woman with three dogs: two cute yorkshires and an awful poodle. Each time I had to leave for school back then, I was taking a moment to pet each dog, except the poodle because as the saying goes, he was as dumb as aggressive. And fortunately, remarkably slow.
The stupid creature had a fascinating habit: he couldn’t help but assault “closing” doors. He wouldn’t mind anyone sieging the house till you would open the door, and anyone could enter without any problem. But he hated badly anyone about to close that same door.
I even tested him several times, pretending I was going out and closing the door: he would crouch, snarling, ready to jump on the door. As soon as the door was reopened, he would just step back, eager for me to leave and lock the damn door, so he could jump and crash on it like a wild rabid beast. Clearly the poor thing couldn’t stand being locked up, but mixed between submission and his instincts, couldn’t help but assault only once he wouldn’t be able to make any harm.
Yesterday, the French Parliament approved a law about “Creation & Internet”, accepting a three strikes plan against piracy and the use of a spyware on each citizen comp “to prove they’re not guilty of anything” in case their IP would be caught in P2P systems. The Parliament discussions about the law started in February and lasted for several weeks, but to my surprise, apart from tech blogs, news sites and organizations dead against it, I haven’t heard a lot of opinions about it, except maybe a few big fat trolls.
La Quadrature still organized a French Internet Blackout, hoping they would follow the New Zealand, but as much as I could see black icons on twitter from everywhere around the world, my frenchie followers would remain full of colors, barely tweeting or posting about it, as if it wouldn’t matter. I saw several black banners, blossoming here and there, people expressing they were baffled the law had been accepted and approved, even though it was hardly applicable. “It’s Brazil becoming true!” “1984!”. Right. It is. But why the late reaction? Why shaking a fist at the sky, after everything’s done ?
Today, I see my fellow frenchies the way I was seeing that dog, Azor, running angrily at a closed door, once it’s too late to escape through it. So I asked about it on twitter. Probably thinking I wasn’t french myself, a guy answered the slow reaction was “the french way of life” and that he was “proud of it”.
Well congratulations, you just lost the Internet the way it was.
*The Minitel is considered to be one of the world’s most successful pre-World Wide Web online services, adopted by France in the 80’s. It also slowed down the deployment of the Internet there.