Dehumanize Like a Pro
I find it interesting, while waiting for NJ Transit, to see fellow citizens on the line, thinking I see people while, what I really see, is instances of carefully crafted abstractions…
You see, in this line, we aren’t ordinary people. We are people who go to NY to work… to play roles. We execute plans and design systems and store and process and analyze and fit and optimize and this is what we do.
We don’t do it just for an hour or two a day… We do it full time, every day, and when we go home we do it for another 6 hours on our chats, discussions and thinking. I find it hard to remember when was the last time I wasn’t on a role, acting as something.
For one second you might think we, people in this line, are humans… we might have friends and family… but nonono… those are distractions and things we own and cultivate in order to keep our human part happy and quiet - a bit like ice cream.
What we really are, at the present moment, is NJ Transit customers, fitted in a graph, projected, stored in databases, being collateralized for decade-long loans to buy the trains we’re waiting for. We couldn’t really not be there. Us being there is someone’s job and they will adjust prices and incentives and sabotage or promote and lobby to have enough NJ Transit customers wait on that line till the loan gets paid.
When things go wrong, when disaster hits, and bankruptcy, and crashes, and health issues and math fails, those people, us, the folks who check the tickets and drive the trains and manage the process and optimize the profits… well when things go wrong, we take our puppy face, show our children in nice touching photos with properly tinted Photoshop and say… we’re just humans… we have families… and then we ask for the kindness and understanding of fellow human beings…
Well, if we really wanted to be genuine and honest, we should all wear our suits and ties and take unphotoshopped photos and say- “hey, I’m the role, I’m the person who turned you to a number, a customer, a profit, a liability, a deficit, to bits and bytes, and this is what I’ve been doing non-stop for the last 20 years. I’ve been checking your tickets, shouting you’re late, applying to you the latest trend of management, buying and selling you on my PowerPoints. This is who I am and I now ask you to treat me as human, quickly, so that I can go back to my role and collaterize you a bit more.”
Dehumanizing is not a system… it’s not something we are giving in to. We are it. If it didn’t exist, we would create it, one by one, all of us. Each one of us does it to another and all of us do it to whoever is or isn’t us. This is, honestly, who we are. And we’re fully in for it. We are conscious.
On a dark day we might have to say “we’re humans, show mercy” — just ignore us. I don’t see why we should ever be treated as humans. We spend hardly any time being humans.