Spinoffs from society

The computer age is enabling workers to mask deficiencies (like spelling) and odd work times behind productivity and work-load achievements. Sitting at home, an over-65er who can’t sleep anyway and tomorrow’s young work force can both catch up on paperwork, statistics, sales, whatever, and transmit the results over the internet. Up to today, the measure of the output of a worker (productivity) was set against piecework standards or office overhead. Soon pay will be linked to company profit. 

The new pressure of the modern computer employment, compared to the model of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s when you got your weekly or monthly paycheck and could plan a life of mortgages, kids’ college, car payments, etc., is familiar to all the self-employed. Those of you on company payrolls are either preparing now for the temp stress or already deep into it, unsure what tomorrow will bring. 

Some people will not cope with this pressure and our society may need to help them over the future’s uncertainty with some sort of work guidelines, re-education, and social welfare. Not to do so may cause the collapse of the economy as a whole. Think I’m kidding? The internet is based on a certain number of subscribers and transactions taking place daily and a planned expansion of that number for the future. If the people who can’t cope with this new way of life begin to log off and disconnect from the system, the very fabric of the Internet may collapse.  The people who cannot cope, the Spin-offs I call them, can bring about a collapse of the system just as effectively. Each one of us secretly dislikes the darn computer. It’s indispensable but can be a very personal thorn in our side. Turn it off? Sounds tempting. That’s enough to start a counter-culture. If enough people switch off, the internet and e-commerce will blink out.

And if enough people fall off the job bandwagon because they cannot understand or cope with all the modern viral media applications already pushing business (as it already pushes the government, with daily tweets), then these disenfranchised will either bankrupt a generous society needing handouts or, if starving, they will revolt. Spin-offs have secret power. Commerce pretending they are not there or will fade away is dangerous. Forcing them to adapt to an e-society is too much like Clockwork Orange. Just as we protect worthwhile historic enterprises in our society (wooden shipbuilders, folk dancers, Colonial villages) those who prefer pen and ink, reading a book instead of scanning it, and a way of life that got us here from our recent past though hard work and excellence, these people deserve to have their way of life preserved, even if they are Spin-offs from this brave new e-world we’re creating.

Peter Riva, a former resident of Amenia Union, now lives in New Mexico.