To be unemployed.

October 31, 2013

You will have to forgive me for my break in usual political/religious blogging, but as this is an outlet for me on a personal level also, it is a necessary piece of writing to get off my chest.

I cannot find work anywhere. I am 27, a freelance photographer, with a degree in Politics & Journalism, I am addicted to writing, I write almost daily on here as well as separately and more personally on another blog, I am fascinated by the World, I utterly adore history (mainly French Revolution and the US Civil War and revolution, but Tudor History and early Islamic history play a role too) and philosophy, I’m teaching myself to speak French, and I am desperately seeking a graduate/entry level position in communications, or PR, or digital marketing, anywhere in the country. I wouldn’t mind teaching either for which I’m currently applying. My dream is to live and to work and settle in the US. But I can’t even find a position here in the UK to gain any sort of experience. And it’s becoming a bit too much to deal with at the moment.

Unemployment has the unique ability to completely destroy any ounce of confidence or love of being alive one may once have enjoyed. I just feel completely empty, all the time. It becomes difficult to sleep as financial worries stack up and food becomes a luxury. Your social life dies because you can’t keep up with friends. You look at your degree certificate with contempt, like it is just another worthless piece of paper that reflects nothing and it no longer feels like any sort of achievement, and for every 300+ applications you send out, you receive maybe two replies because for every job you apply for, 100+ others are applying for daily. Every job labelled ‘graduate’ or ‘entry level’ seems to then demand 2+ years of experience. The very few that offer experience rather than demand it of graduates, seem to have half of Britain applying to. You become an insignificant face, in a sea of insignificant faces and you’re treading a water that is pulling you deeper in every day. Why bother to resist at all?

The latest position I applied for comes with this confidence killing disclaimer:

“Applications: 92
Please be aware we receive a high volume of applications for every role advertised & regularly receive applications from candidates who exceed the job credentials.”

– In other words…. don’t bother. You’re probably not good enough.

The Job Centre is a place of pity, of shame, and a broken, forgotten system with a thin veil of modernity covering its massive cracks. I sat next to a girl who had been coming to the Job Centre for over a year, and as she said that, she laughed nervously and said that if she didn’t laugh, she’d cry. The archaic job search system does not recognise the key words “digital” or “PR” and has trouble with the word “media”. These terms are too new for it, what with being introduced in the mid-90s. But the sofas are comfortable. So that’s just great. The staff talk to you patronisingly, like you’re probably just playing the system, a waste of oxygen, and so deserve to be spoken to like a child. You then get home in time to see a Tory politician continuously tell us all how shameful it is to be unemployed, and how we must be treated with suspicion and anger.

If you’re lucky enough to get an interview, you are one of about 50+ other candidates and if you wish to impress at an interview, you need an extraordinary degree of confidence in yourself, which you now don’t have. Couple this with constant dehumanised “lazy” or “we must be tough on them!” rhetoric by politicians in both major political parties trying to win over a middle class, and a thoroughly right winged media treating you as a statistic, and a shameful drain on society, and you quickly descend mentally to a place where life seems entirely pointless, because you’re convinced that you have no worth. And whilst feeling entirely worthless, you dread the postman’s footsteps every day, because it’ll just be letter upon letter of threats from companies you can no longer afford to pay. Car insurance. Phone bill. Broadband. Every letter includes a subtle declaration that because you can’t afford to pay, they’ll charge you even more. Which you also can’t pay. And so they’ll threaten you with court. And then the bank charge you because your direct debit didn’t work when the company charged you extra for not being able to afford to pay in the first place. And then the bank will charge you more because you couldn’t pay the charge. And it never stops. Why would anyone have children here? What a fucking cruel thing to do.

The feeling that you are worthless isn’t fleeting, it doesn’t subside, it grows until it feels endless. And every slight knock back amplifies it. This is my current reality and I hate it.

If anyone knows of any opportunities, feel free to get in contact because I need just one place to give me even the smallest of opportunities to be able to prove my worth.

Regular blogging will resume tomorrow.


I got angry

October 14, 2010

To the angry abusive intimidating bell end who shouted at me at my work tonight, for no fucking reason whatsoever; I hope you get AIDs and die. Slowly. I hope it hurts. I hope whilst it hurts, you accidentally get your scrotum caught in the mouth of a rabid rotweiler, and you contract rabies and then get your face raped on your way home by John Leslie, crying because you now have AIDs and Rabies and John Leslie’s unwashed cock in your face. And then I hope you fall and graze your knee, because grazed knees are the worst. I wish the very worst on you. You deserve the very worst.

“DO WHAT I SAY and don’t fucking argue with your fucking clients!!”

Don’t argue with your clients? Who made that rule? What if your clients are clearly trying to intimidate as many members of staff as possible, in the hope they will get free food and drink as some sort of apology for not being up to your level of satisfaction when you make up your own rules for the entire place? I will argue with you; I will absolutely argue with you. I wont be the one to back down to your nasty little games, you real life lump of unflushable, irritatingly relentless shit. Irritating relentlessly unflushable shit, regardless of if you put it in an expensive business suit; is still irritating, and it’s still shit, and you still wish it didn’t exist.

Oh and whilst you’re busy being an utter shit, it might do you pretty good, if you shaved the bit of hair that joins your eyebrows together. When you’re angry, and have only one eyebrow, it’s very difficult not to point at it and laugh when it moves up and down, because it looks like a hamster is fucking your face.

The fact that you exist, stealing oxygen from the rest of us, makes me want to vomit. And poo. Vomit and poo at the same time. That is an affect not many people have on me. You managed to achieve it within seconds of opening your arsehole (I was unable to distinguish your mouth from your arsehole. Seemingly both omit excrement).

Rant over.


It is not soul destroying

October 9, 2010

Today I was subject of a ridiculously inane and somewhat poignant issue at the place I work. I happened to place a tray down on the table of a bunch of people who were eating dinner, in order to put the veg from the tray to the table. I was looked at, by the waitress, as if i’d just walked into their house on a child’s birthday and pissed on his cake; I was told it was unbelievable that I had done that, and I should have in fact used the serving table a couple of metres away. What would the guests think? Surely they would be shocked? Surely putting the tray on their table in order to remove the veg, as opposed to using the table two metres away, was comparable to wacking out my todger and waving it in the face of the eldest member of the group, and then pooing.

The use of the word ‘unbelievable‘ was perhaps a little bit over the top, and worked not to make me regret my apparent lack of hospitality etiquette, but only to insight a burning hatred toward the entire charade. I marvelled at the level of pretentiousness one must have to get to, to resign oneself to a life of getting frustrated if absolutely meaningless table etiquette rules have been a little bit bent. I was told it ‘looks bad’. If someone is to complain that I put veg down on the table an inappropriate way, simply because I put a tray on their table that in no way obstructed them from doing anything else (including laughing and joking with me, as the gentleman did), then I would have to consider telling that person to sit down and maybe re-evaluate what it is that is important in their life. It doesn’t ‘look bad’. It looks nothing. Because people in general are not as pretentious as the overly obsessed soul-less workforce that provide them with a service sector devoid of any social benefit and working – aimlessly – only to illuminate an already overly developed sense of superiority and manic egotism that the guest must have if they take such things seriously.

One has to ask, why does it ‘look bad’ to put the tray on the table? Who does it ‘look bad’ to? People are entirely different. Their experiences in life, their memories, and how busy their minds are at the time will all go toward evaluating who thinks that putting a tray on their long table to put veg from the tray to the table ‘looks bad’. My guess is that it was none them. Especially the nice old gentleman who had a joke with me about the local football team as I was standing there. In fact, i’d guess that’s the most any member of staff in the entire building had said to him (other than ‘lamb or pork?’) all day. There is no inherent way to remove food from a tray. There is no universal immovable law. It doesn’t exist. The idea is contrived by humans, and more specifically, by the place I work; not the guests, and after the idea is there; a funny little tale about it ‘looking bad’ otherwise is created to attempt to justify absolutely nothing. Do you like how I am applying Nietzsche to my work situation?

These etiquettes, these meaningless etiquettes, these weak pointless upper class meaningless etiquettes simply perpetuate the pretentious. And pretentiousness is a rather repulsive trait that humanity has created (it isn’t natural) and amplifies in workplaces like mine, which again has absolutely no social benefit and actually appears more like a cancer to me.

You see how frustrating it is? It is inevitable for someone like me, who struggles to be happy at the very best of times with the direction of their life, and resigns their self to knowing that an absurd World is the one in which they inhabit, like Camus’ Outsider, and have to play the game accordingly; that eventually, they start to struggle with that game, wanting to just throw the board up in the air. Make sure the ones with money are happy. See to their every need. Bend over for them. Wash up after them. Feed them. But feed them the proper way other it’s unbelievable. Take their money. Get a tiny percentage of it back. What a waste of a life. I am currently looking for work elsewhere. Hopefully not in hospitality or the service industry at all. I do not want to be part of a generation wasting away answering phones. Often, when I am performing a worthless task, I wonder ‘what is this achieving?’ and I can’t honestly and forthrightly answer. The mellifluous sound of guilt takes over a little. It is a particularly disagreeable feeling in the mind and pit of the stomach when you suddenly feel like you’ve walked into a wall built entirely out of the words ‘What the fuck are you doing with your life, standing taking this sort of shit? A monkey in a science lab has more social use than you do, and he flings his own faeces around every day. Quick, better get back to work, someone wants a bit more milk with their tea.’

I stood today thinking, whilst at work and decided to write down the first thing that came to my head when I considered my work life. I immediately wrote: “It isn’t soul destroying. It is a curiously undesirable and regrettable form of soul searching”. This surprised me for a second, I was taken aback. I had to think about what I meant. Because I have always been under the impression that the place I work, and the service sector in general is emphatically soul destroying. There is no room for creativity or a sense that you are working to help further mankind and provide a societal benefit. Yet now, I was contradicting myself. And I think I was right. It isn’t soul destroying. It is certainly tedious and laughable, it isn’t real and it is meaningless in the long run; but it isn’t soul destroying. It takes tedium and anguish, and it takes a feeling of emptiness and futility to accept that you are in fact deep in a life of nihilism and the only way out is to decide what it is you want and get it. You create the meaning and the purpose you wish to create because it simply doesn’t exist otherwise; meaning is not an objective truism. Today’s issue with the tray proved that. Meaning is subjective. You insert meaning into what it is you want, and you disregard that which you find absurd and wasteful. My workplace management created the meaning behind the issue with the tray, some people mindlessly sucked it up and live it, others notice that we are not the place that we work. We are ourselves. You start to appreciate what it is about life you adore, and cherish, and what it is you find utterly abhorrent and useless. It nurtures your soul by testing your soul.

Today I had this new sense of self and of ambition that I have admittedly been lacking for quite some time. I am asserting myself entirely to becoming a teacher. I would like to do some teaching in a poorer country first. I would also like to eventually teach history. There are certain aspects of my life that are not important. Learning table etiquette is never going to be important, to any life. I am also going to get right back into Photography. I need an artistic outlet because I cannot fully deal with the way much of the World around me works; again, I find it all one big game, with silly little rules to keep the game moving, and yet all they actually do is make me scrunch my face up and proclaim the World to be a miserable absurdity at the best of times. For it to have been soul destroying, I would have had to accepted the pretentious etiquette as essential and purposeful. If I ever get to the stage where I believe that certain etiquettes have any use whatsoever, I will be able to say that my soul has been destroyed because my soul, as I know it, is utterly at odds with that World.

I do not want to end up actually caring that a tray has been put down on the wrong table.


Futilephotographer

August 24, 2010

Since being over here in Australia, I have rediscovered my interest in Photography. Ash is a fantastic person to encourage creativity. I can count on her honesty. It is encouraging. Before hand, I was given two extremes. Either people who would tell me I am an amazing photographer who should take on the World and become the greatest ever, whilst they lick my arse thoroughly for as long as possible before the muscles of the tongue cease up; or I had pretentious art types who were about as talented as a Big Brother contestant, and so dismissed the art work of anyone who didn’t appear to be ‘fashionably wacky’. Complete opposite, and completely extreme. There was never anyone who would critique me the way I wished. I know I can rely on my Aussie for a truthful opinion and tips.

I studied Photography for a year in London, during late 2008. I left the course early because the people who ran it had a very specific taste in art and would outright tell you you’re photos were utterly shit. The line between subjective opinion and objective truth became magically blurred, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like them telling me what makes a good shot. I didn’t like them telling me that Diane Arbus was the greatest Photographer of the 20th Century. I didn’t like being told that a subject that is wholly subjective, can be moulded into something objective. So I left. And with it, my passion for photography slipped away. I have very low self belief when it comes to my own creativity.

I have now decided to take up Photography again, for myself. Therefore, I have created a new blog located at: http://futilephotographer.wordpress.com on which I shall display my Photography work from now on. I really do wish to start selling some works too, given that I am but a poor student in need of as much of an income as possible. Comments on my work would be very much appreciated.

I hope you like the photos!


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The logic of incentive

July 16, 2010

According to our financial experts, the reason we couldn’t punish bankers, and curtail the bonus culture, or slap a tax on banking bonuses or transactions in the UK was because the “best people for the job, will leave the country“. We were told that the market system dictates that if you take away the incentive, no matter how unjustifiably large those incentives are, the best people will all flee the country to some fucked third World country, where oversight and regulation and taxes are low. It encompasses the entire scope of human nature, and sums it up by telling us that monetary incentives are what ultimately drive us, and anything else would be evil socialism and that government should be off our backs but big business should be allowed to stab as many backs as they wish, because it’s capitalism, so it’s okay. I think that pretty much sums up Friedmanite economic theory.

The utterly ridiculous Mayor of London, Boris Johnson claimed recently that a 50p top tax rate, and an extra levy on non-doms would force 9000 bankers in Britain to flee the country. Boris’ office said:

Boris is determined to highlight to everyone, including George Osborne, that this [bonus] tax is already having an adverse impact and should it become a more permanent feature of our tax system it would have an extremely devastating impact on London’s long-term prosperity.

What interests me, is that Boris, along with every other Conservative both here and America seem unable to admit that London’s long-term prosperity was not attacked by the idea of a bonus tax, but instead by the free ride that the Conservatives gave to bankers, allowing them to gamble horrendously, for twenty five years. Why are they unable to admit that their precious free market system failed miserably? Their logic no longer applies. Johnson should therefore be ignored on this one. Especially given that the Tories matra has been that we are “all in this together“.

The article goes on to say that Goldman Sachs would consider moving their offices abroad because of a super tax suggested by Alistair Darling, the then Chancellor, earlier this year. This is the same Goldman Sachs who were forced to settle $60million out of court to stop an investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General into whether or not Goldman promoted drastically unfair and impossible home loans across the State. This is the same Goldman Sachs that stands accused of selling dodgy packaged mortgages that they knew were going to fail, to investors, and then betting against them, making a fortune through it, prompting an ex-Goldman worker involved in the scandal to write the book “How I caused the credit crunch“, the same scandal that lead to Goldman Sachs paying a record $550million settlement after being sued by the SEC for fraud. Why are we all allowing ourselves to be held to ransom, by a bunch of criminals? Incidentally, when the 50p top rate of tax finally came into force in April 2010, Goldman did not make good on their threat. They still do business in the UK. Goldman didn’t leave. The 9000 bankers didn’t leave. The Tories, as ever, were wrong.

Now, ignoring the logistics of moving to another country so quickly, upping your family out of the place they call home, simply because you now only make 1.2million instead of 1.5million in bonuses each year; the apparent science that offering higher rewards will improve performance, is actually flawed and realistically cannot be called a science. It is a manipulation more than anything. A threat. Keep paying us unjustifiably high amounts of money, or we’ll leave, and your country is screwed. It is why politicians are effectively useless, because they have very little say over economic matters. We all know these bankers will not leave the country in one huge banking emigration day.

A group of economists working out of M.I.T and the University of Chicago conducted an experiment using a number of students. They gave the students a number of assignments, including mathematical and scientific problems to solve. They offered the first group a very small amount of money as an incentive to complete the assignments. They offered a second group a higher amount, and they offered a third group a large amount of money. The theory put forward by the defenders of market principles, or those with free-market-failure-denial would argue that those offered the most amount of money, would perform the best. The reality was different. The students offered the highest incentive, failed miserably. The students offered the medium amount and the students offered the lowest amount both ended up with similar results. Both beating the students offered the most.

The economists then took the experiment to Madurai, in India, with higher incentives, fearing that maybe there wasn’t enough difference in incentive when the experiment was conducted on students in the US. In India, they offered the first group a weeks wages, they offered the second group; a months wages, and the third group; two months wages. The stakes in India for such rewards, would be far higher than at M.I.T. Again, those offered the smallest incentive performed pretty much identically to those offered the medium sized reward. Those offered the top incentive, did the worst again. So, the higher the incentive, the lower the performance. Why? Firstly, we now have to accept that free market theory is just that; a theory, and whilst some of it is relevant and works well, there is much of it that has failed recently, and analysing the entire process in this way, can only be a good thing.

It is true that if you don’t give people the money they clearly deserve for the work they have done, they will not perform highly, they will be unmotivated and annoyed. So yes, money as an incentive does work to an extent. The experiment showed that when you give someone a simple task and tell them they will be paid a certain amount for completing that task, the incentive works. But when you give people a difficult task, which requires long term thought, creativity and problem solving skills of the highest calibre, the incentive doesn’t work. I’d suggest the reason for this, isn’t simply ‘human nature’, it is mainly because our society and our universal culture rewards greed and excess and so that trait of greed which exists in all of us, becomes amplified. Human nature is so vastly complex, to sum it up in such a simple way and create an economic system around it, is a problem. And so a highly problematic task, is rewarded in three ways according to the research, and those three ways are personal from than simply the need for money. Those three things are Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose.

Autonomy states that if you want a difficult and complex task completed, self direction is better. Figuring it out for yourself is far more rewarding than having someone tell you how it’s done, it is far better than having a demanding manager micro-managing your every move. Leave your workers to do the job their way. Social commentator Dan Pink points out that the Australian software company Atlassian tell their employees that on one day of the second quarter, they can spend the next 24 hours working on whatever project they want, with whomever they way, and any way they want, they have to then show their results the following day at a staff meeting filled with drinks and cakes. That one day has lead to huge advances in software fixes and new ideas and creations. This did not involve a promise of a bonus or any extra money. They performed to the best of their ability, without the need for more money.

Mastery means improving and understanding what we are doing, far better than when we started. I read a lot of history books, not because it is economically valuable, but because I enjoy it, and I like to know that I can debate and talk about historical events with a degree of mastery. People add to opensource, in their spare time for no money reward, but because the work is autonomous, and they improve and learn as they go. What they create, then becomes free, they do not sell it. It is not economically valuable for the individual. Evil Communism at work again.

Purpose, is pretty self explanatory. A company without its eye on a purpose, becomes pretty dangerous. Now, right winged economics would have us believe that a primary motive for any company should be profit making. This isn’t true. Look again at Goldman Sachs. They took their eye off their purpose to provide sensible mortgages and a helpful responsible banking service, and instead kept their eye firmly on profit, which has been catastrophic. Profit and purpose should be interlinked. Purpose should serve the community, and not just shareholders. There must be a reason for people to want to improve.

Now, what this all means is that when you combine the three, it is interesting to note that our motives, are based almost firmly on concepts that don’t involve money. Money certainly plays its part, we all want to feel secure, but once we have a degree of security, we are not just consumers nor economic statistics, we have personal reasons for the work we do. If we leave people to it; dress in what makes you feel comfortable, talk in a way that isn’t imposed on you from those above, create, innovate and at the same time laugh and talk, instead of simply saying “look, if you do this, you get $2000, but do it my way. Oh and there’s a really important person coming through the office later, when you see him, make sure you bow and call him Sir, for he is above you.“, you will almost always see better results. Once the boss is off your back and the carrot made out of gold has been put away, and employees are treated like people rather than cogs in a money making machine, you will almost always see better results. The logic is now based on quite strong research. Free market obsessives can no longer claim their way is the only way, and this makes me happy.