Tuesday, May 15, 2007

One Thousand (Whiny) Words... give or take.

I need a new job. I hate to complain, there are so many great things about my job. It really is a great job, and it is exactly what I have been working for since I got out of the Army.
So why am I feeling so discontent? I am not exactly sure, but I will try to explore why in the next thousand words or so and maybe come to a conclusion.
First, I suppose that I should explore the good things about my job. I will do this in order to remind myself why I continue to show up day after day despite the huge wad of anxiety I feel each day. I have a huge amount of autonomy to decide how to spend my time each day. Micro-management is unheard of, at least in my position. In fact, I think that the management forgets that I am here sometimes. (Oops, that would be jumping ahead to the bad things about this job. Hold that thought!) This allows me to come and go as I please, without much questioning about what I am doing and how long. The salary is above and beyond what someone of my credentials and experience should expect to earn. This provides a great living for my family that I am grateful for each and every day. There are some people that I work with that I really like, and some that I even look up to as role models.
So why all of the discontent and anxiety when I come to work each day? What is it about this job that has me dreaming of trout farms and novel writing?
Some of the “pros” of this job are very double-sided and also serve as “cons” as well. For one, the salary. Having become accustomed to a certain level of income, the idea of having to cut back is frightening to say the least. This contributes to a feeling of being trapped in my current position and is probably the biggest reason I loath this job. How insane is it that I hate my job because they pay me too much? The lack of direction is another double-sided benefit. This very lack of direction often leaves me wondering if I am succeeding or failing, since there is absolutely no input one way or another. Of course I hear about it if someone is frustrated with their computer. But is there anything I should be working on proactively that I am not aware of? Am I being completely successful if nobody is complaining about their e-mail access? As long as the FBI has not shown up to confiscate hard drives am I being diligent enough about enforcing information security? I suppose that my personality requires a great deal of external motivation to feel secure in my job. I don’t think I will ever again complain about a micro-managing boss, since I now know what it feels like to have a non-managing boss. That is not to say that he is a bad manager, just that he feels that he has no need to dictate anything to me, has much more pressing things to worry about and so completely leaves me alone. The freedom is great. The lack of input is terrifying.
There are other cons that are somewhat personal, and that I can only elaborate on in very general terms. Due to the complete lack of oversight, it seems that I am doing a great job. However I am very acutely aware of the things I do wrong on a daily basis, and I am even more acutely aware of the possible consequences of these mistakes. The fact that they remain undiscovered serves only to amplify them in my mind, rather than comforting me that I am perhaps blowing them out of proportion. I suppose that this could be my internal persecution complex at work, but it could very well be a valid fear that one day all of these mistakes will be revealed and the day of reckoning will finally arrive.
Am I just not cut out for a job with this level of responsibility? Does my personality just not respond well to the stresses of self-management? I worry that I am developing some very unhealthy neurosis, and then realize that this worry in itself could be a very unhealthy neurosis. Then I wonder if I am being a hypochondriac by diagnosing myself with unhealthy neuroses which of course is also an unhealthy neurosis.
I am killing myself with the unending worry. It is making me horribly miserable and bringing me to question the very decision to become an information technology professional. Am I even cut out for this kind of work? Is anyone ever “cut out” for a certain kind of work?
Or am I just running away from something uncomfortable or difficult? Should I just buckle down and force myself to keep my nose to the grindstone? Or is this a genuine sign that the profession I have chosen is not for me and that I must change or continue to suffer?
I am not sure, and I am not yet at one thousand words. However I am done whining for today. More on this topic later, I am sure.

© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Poetry of Fox News

So after a very hectic two weeks, I find myself with some breathing room and instead of simply sitting here playing solitaire or re-reading the news again I think I will try to hammer out a thousand words or so.
As usual when I do not have a specific topic to write about I intend to ramble about, collecting stray words from the frightening dustbin of my mind and attempting to string them together into some sort of coherent train of thought.
In that vein, I must remark that it has been quite a while since I wrote any kind of poetry. If memory serves correctly, I think that I was in Korea last time I wrote any poetry at all. I used to love poetry writing, and if I do say so myself was pretty good at it. I will see if I can dig out some examples to post here and let you, constant reader judge for me. (Of course, since I don’t think that there are any constant or even occasional readers out there it will continue to be my opinion that counts.) The problem is, I think that life has been too good for poetry. Or perhaps I have just let other concerns override my impulse to create. Right now, I am trying to think of something to poem about, and nothing comes to mind. Have you ever had someone say: “Hey! Do that funny thing that you do!” because they saw you doing it once. Only you can’t just do it on demand because you were only able to do it that time because it fit in. Now, on demand you can’t seem to make it happen. That is how it feels right now, trying to convince myself to write some poetry. First of all, I can’t come up with a subject. I am sitting in my office, with no tasks immediately urgent watching Fox news and waiting for something to happen. (OOH! I just thought of something I need to get done today. Writing down on the “To Do” list now…)
Fox news may be one culprit. This non-stop garbage is so mind-numbingly anti-intelligence and anti-creativity that it is entirely conceivable that it may be damping out any creative thoughts I might normally be able to come up with. Why do I watch it? Because it is the only station that is streamed across the network at work. I can listen to music instead, but I am tired of all of the music that I have, so that gets old too fast. Silence in the office is a no-go right off the bat since it drives me insane and makes me want to bite people and burn things. (OK, anyone reading this must understand that for the record, I have never really had the urge to bite anyone although I do enjoy a good fire… It is just something I say to make people laugh.)
Fox news is annoying to me because they are so slanted to the right. Now most people reading this might suppose that makes me a liberal-minded person. Not so! I am a very conservative person (NOT Republican… there IS a difference!) Why would I be annoyed at a news station who is slanted towards my own point of view? Because it feels patronizing to me, as if I am not intelligent enough to make up my own mind and therefore must be force-fed the proper philosophy. It is also annoying that they try so hard to pretend that they are being fair and balanced, and that everything they report on is life and death. (Including and especially all of the celebrity news. No kidding, they went COMMERCIAL FREE to cover the courtroom drama surrounding the death of that bleach-blond hooker in Honduras. For crying out loud! Is NOTHING else of importance happening in the world? COMMERCIAL FREE! They don’t even do that for the presidential election!)
As a conservative-minded person, I have come to the conclusion that most of the “conservative” media out there is horrible and completely irrelevant. I have pondered for some time why this is so. “Liberal” media sources, although they are as much or more slanted than the other at least pretends to be intelligent. One must be paying close attention to see the bias in the reporting on NPR, and in some cases, even the bias is helpful in understanding the issue. However conservative pundits tend to just cram their views down your throat without even a pretense of intelligence. It may be due to the overwhelming majority of conservative thinkers who are poor, working class folks who really may not be able to grasp a more intellectual view of the news. (OK, I just insulted a huge segment of the population. I apologize, but please stick with me.)
Perhaps the more sneaky intellectual manner of the NPRs of the world can be viewed as somewhat dishonest. By disguising their news as unbiased and intelligent, they may be misleading some who are not intelligent enough to tell the difference. Perhaps they listen to this news and think that they are getting a much more balanced and intelligent view of the news while in fact they are indeed being indoctrinated into the liberal mindset.
I know that I used to be in this category. I listened to NPR every morning on the way to work. I was very interested in the information they presented, and the intellectual manner in which they presented it appealed to me. Listening to conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh turned me off for the reasons outlined above. I felt that they were patronizing me by feeding me their philosophies without apology or excuse. However, I can remember two specific events on NPR that changed my mind, and opened my eyes to the intellectual dishonesty that pervades this kind of media.
During the 2000 elections, I listened to a series of reports on NPR. They ran a biography of the two candidates, Al Gore and George W. Bush.
Al was first. The half-hour report was filled with glowing praise of Al’s achievements and his thoughtful philosophy. He was presented as a man who was tormented by the injustice in the world and who rose above his priveliged upbringing to become a champion of the oppressed.
George was next. The picture they painted of him was frightening. A spoiled rotten brat of rich and powerful parents whose life was completely aimless and wasted until he suddenly learned that he could leverage the political clout of his family’s power for personal gain. The picture that remained at the end of this “unbiased” report was that this man who wished to be the leader of the free world was one temper tantrum from a return to the drug and alcohol-fueled irresponsibility of his youth.
These two stories were so obviously slanted that I was shocked. This organization who I had looked to for intelligent discussion of the issues had just given me a picture just as slanted and biased as anything I could find in conservative media. On top of that was the insidious way that they had painted the stories as “an unbiased biography of the two candidates.” In fact, it was a two-hour commercial for the Gore campaign.
The second event was a much smaller, but even more insidious story that sealed for me the liberal bent of National Public Radio and ensured that I would no longer depend on them for any kind of information.
A report on a movement in this country, and one woman in particular who hated children. For a half hour, they discussed how this poor woman was put upon by thoughtless parents of horrible little monsters who made her life difficult. She was disgusted by the thought that children were sweet, cute, and innocent. She viewed them as, in her own words: Crotch-droppings whose sole purpose in this world was to torture her and rob her of happiness. She of course had no children, had never had any. She worked at a rest home where she took care of incapacitated seniors and said that this was close enough to childcare for her. The story informed us that more and more American adults were beginning to feel this way, and that the rights of these poor citizens were being trampled on by uncaring parents who believed unfairly that they should be able to take time off work to care for their sick children.
I was appalled. The story concluded with this woman listing almost a dozen terms she used to describe children. “Crotch-droppings” being one of the least insulting. NPR broadcast this hateful diatribe as if it were an intelligent analysis of one person’s point of view. To me, this was hate, pure and undefiled. If this list of derogatory names had been directed at any other class of people, it would have easily been classified as hate-speech. But when directed at children, it was simply her right to express her feelings.
After this story, I turned off NPR. I listen to them occaisionally, when I find them telling interesting stories about science or arts. Even these stories are bent towards the liberal mindset, but at least now I am on the watch for the liberal indoctrination running underneath the interesting story. However I now know that this network of stations is far more biased than any conservative media I have encountered. They are just better at hiding it.
If Fox is annoying and patronizing, at least they are honest about it. Makes it much easier to see the slant and ignore it.
Plus, I have no option when watching news at work. I just hope it doesn’t smother my poetic creativity forever.

Fox News, droning on and on.
Stories of Anna, Britney and Paris
Far more urgent than Ahmadinejad and Maliki
Interrupt our sales of Head-On and PAD treatments
To ensure that we know the future of baby Dani is secure.
At least I can see
The bias in the coverage
Instead of the whisperer in the dark
The sinister and subtle
Network of the People’s Republic

© 2007 Tyler Willson. All rights reserved