Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Not As Advertised

One disadvantage of working in IT - or, perhaps, growing old - is that one becomes acutely aware of things not working properly or, more accurately, the sheer number of things not working properly. There are some days when your broadband is working at pre-dialup speeds, your beer doesn't get you drunk, your favourite TV show is postponed due to the snooker over-running, the trains aren't running because Nobody Knew Autumn Would Happen, you put your back out doing something as simple as curls when hardcore weight training has never fazed it and you get snow - nay, blizzards - in fucking April. Some days it just seems like nobody is even trying any more.

Non-IT people can be smug about this and say things like 'physician, heal thyself': we, after all, have nobody to call when the world stops working and displays incomprehensible error messages. Of course, IT people know that when non-IT people have problems it's usually because they're not concentrating, not doing what they've been told to do many times over or just too lazy to think. IT people do not break their computers because they are concentrating, do read the help files and do pay attention to the world around them, not because they have magic IT powers. We cannot readily alter reality itself, or force stupid people to think.

Take the housing market. Jeremy Paxman made a wonderfully rueful comment on the whole idiotic mess on Newsnight tonight when he asked an interviewer if everyone had simply missed the whole idea of markets: supply and demand are simple enough rules to be taught in school but apparently not simple enough for coke-addled day traders and cake-inflated CEOs to remember into adulthood, rules that would have told the banks to stop behaving like opportunistic children and control themselves. Every decade or so the same mistakes are made, the same downturn occurs and the same politicians and bankers shrug and say "well, how were we supposed to know?". Basic fucking pattern recognition, that's how. A trick even squirrels have mastered.

Diana died, it turns out, because she wasn't wearing a seatbelt when her drunk driver crashed the car. This isn't a conspiracy, it's people behaving like idiots. I fail to see why my taxes had to be spent on revealing the blindingly obvious to people who refuse to believe it anyway. I'm tired of hearing how bereaved Al Fayed is: my grandfather died of a highly invasive lung cancer that several doctors managed to diagnose as 'a bit of a cough', and as pissed off as that still makes me I don't expect the world to somehow undo it through publicity and compensation. Those of us without massive personal fortunes and lawyers have to endure grief and learn to live without those we love. To feel entitled to sidestep this aspect of humanity on the grounds of income is vile in ways I have no words for, and I have a lot of words.

The trouble is, it's hard to tell if it's always been this way or if things really are spiralling downwards. Some people will always say that's just how it is, as if it somehow excuses the shortcomings of politics and people and nations to say hey, whatcha gonna do? You can't change people. As if lamenting this behaviour is some kind of naivety or unwillingness to engage with reality. It seems to me that behaving the same self-harming way forever until it kills you is a lot worse. There should be standards, standards that even if never reached are always aimed for. Trying counts, as I always say, and some days I wonder if the end of civilisations has always been presaged by the number of triers in a given society being overtaken by the number of smug do-nothings.

Of course, my back hurts and I'm not drunk, so my judgement may be overharsh.

1 comment:

Kavey said...

Nope, not harsh.
I think similar things quite often.
Fortunately, I'm inately and utterly a hedonist so I put aside the depressing thoughts about where society is going and why no one seems to notice/ care for a goodly proportion of the time and simply enjoy life as much as I can regardless.