I’ve had quite a few downsides and run-ins with tech over the past few weeks, impacting really negatively on my ability to work on my MA.
I know they tell us we should take ownership of our reactions. But this is a way of saying what we feel is ours to own, and we have no right to own anything else that happens. Instead, maybe resigning ourselves to its reality is about as far as we can go.
The whole world an asshole as the man said? (It was almost certainly a man …) I don’t know. What’s clear is that a lack of oversight on processes end-to-end is crapping the life out of us.
One fairly recent example. The housing trust maisonette where we live is on the first floor. It shares a fairly new downstairs door (at the foot of equally shared stairs) with our lovely neighbours across the way. They are, by the way, the best neighbours you could ever hope for. The best.
The fairly new door was a replacement for the previous fairly shabby door. However, the functionality of the shabby cousin was far greater than that of its replacement. Let me explain. The latter has very nice frosted windows, is made (I think) of white PVC, and has a letterbox. All to the superficial good. And therein its true idiocy.
To all intents and purposes the door now looks like it leads to a house, not a shared flight of stairs and on to two dwellings on the first floor. A cursory examination of postal legislation would have revealed that where there is a letterbox, even if shared (the two flat numbers are clearly present, by the way – something I neglected to mention above), postal services have no obligation to go any further. No one in the housing trust who sanctioned the now fairly new door ever thought to look at end-to-end process, it is clear. Over the past two years or so our shared experience (ie that of our lovely neighbours and ourselves) with the wretched “first point of delivery” in question has been dreadful: multiple lost deliveries from couriers various as packages got left in full view of the street; muddy and damp letters and post when they do arrive; untold numbers of re-deliveries required as the delivery people knock at the bottom, get no immediate reply, and scurry off; and multiple unfulfilled assurances from Royal Mail to not do what the next shift of postal officers always ends up doing.
Overall a much worse service – and intractably so! – than when we had the old and shabby original.
And all due to the fact that someone, somewhere, in a procurement department miles away from the issues, thought that a brand new door with letterbox and two numbers would be a vast improvement for the security and safety of everyone and everything concerned.
End-to-end process analysis is rapidly becoming a lost art: lost to the ever-increasing specialisations of our world, where we are strongly, systemically, encouraged to dip our heads into ever-decreasing circles of knowledge, and thus find ourselves failing altogether to see the wider connections.
And that is what brings me back to the world and its asshole. So maybe such extreme nihilism is unwarranted, and maybe such vigorous resignation is unhelpful, and maybe we do need to take ownership for our own reactions above and beyond what happens to us on a daily basis. But even so, and even when said, and even when accepted, there remains this reality: good people are doing shit things because shit systems and lines of command and control and overarching strategies and perhaps, simply, a general lack of interest in or understanding of what is going on is more the rule than the exception.
Write the beautiful new door with its shiny letterbox and flat numbers to a broader audience of work, leisure, consumerism, business and political activity and it begins to become so much easier to understand why asshole nihilism is becoming the default position of so many citizens.
‘Question is: how do we work out together a way of shrugging off the vicious circles which are currently embracing us in no congenial way at all? How do we move on from simply having to own asshole nihilism on this dreadful daily basis – and dealing with our tragic and broader bereavement from intelligent behaviours – to actually making environments and worlds where our first response doesn’t need to be one of wiping up spilt milk but rather, much more handsomely, drinking its sexy and freshly churned warmth with an intellectual joy that befits the 21st century?