Should We Be Scared?


Should we be scared?

Yes. Terribly so. Anything less is simply unpatriotic.

Why Fear is Good

The entire world is built on the overriding principle of fear. The belief that something could go horribly wrong at any moment, and therefore acting accordingly.

You go to your job and are the last to leave the office, for fear of being labelled “work-shy”. You stay at the job hate for years, because of the fear of being without an income. You go home and you buy yourself stuff you don’t need with the money you earn for fear of being thought of as behind-the-times. You sit and watch box sets for fear of missing out.

Fear of loss is as powerful a motivator as the possibility of gain. That’s why we practically crave hearing about bad news. We feel compelled to know, to understand, so that we might better protect ourselves.

When terrible things around the world happen, we feel knowing and studying it can help us to avoid a similar fate. We feel that it can help us keep those things that mean the most to us. Even when these acts are random, we have to know. Even when we’re drastically more likely to die from heart disease related to poor diet and exercise, we still fear the big, scary events more. Normally while consoling ourselves by putting our feet up and eating an entire pizza (it’s been a tough day, after all).

Why The Alternative is So Terrible

Let’s say this weekend you wake up late after a long lie in. You make yourself a healthy breakfast, then decide to head to a park and hike around, and be one with nature. Instead of watching TV when you get home, you decide to write. A book, and article, a random opinion piece you’ll force upon your friends. Whatever. Afterwards you go to see your family for a home-cooked meal to talk, laugh and be happy.

You’re decaying the very foundations upon which everything we know is built. You’re crippling the economy. You haven’t consumed anything, you’re not making money for anyone.

If you’re happy, you’re not spending. Contentment is anathema to capitalism. Capitalism, in its current form, cannot exist when people are content. Content people don’t buy the latest models of gadgets. Content people don’t comfort eat to console themselves. Content people don’t go on shopping sprees to fill a void.

Instead our entire economy is built on the fact that people spend more. And when people spend more, the economy grows. And growth is good. And then people spend even more, so the economy grows further. The perpetual motion machine of capitalism trundles ever onwards.

Comedian, host of the Nerdist Podcast (and my general hero) Chris Hardwick once made a point that stuck with me – confidence comes from options. If you have the ability to find a new job with ease, the realisation that you can leave a relationship that isn’t good for you and find someone else, or that there may be another way to do things, then suddenly you aren’t scared.

In such a situation you can demand that pay-rise you deserve, or take that job that is more fulfilling. You can demand better treatment from your employer, or else you walk, preventing the race-to-the-bottom. This is great for you, but very very bad for business. And businesses support this country.

Sure they might not pay taxes, but they pay wages. Fine, they might not pay great wages, but they provide a vital product and/or service. OK, it might not be vital – in fact it could be very bad for your health and well-being, but they’re making money. And yes, it’s for people who already have a lot of money, but it’s still growth, so we’re all better off. Apparently.

Confidence kills fear, and without fear you’re not supporting your country. This country needs miserable workers who know their place. Who accept what those higher up deign to pass along, with a yes-sir-thank-you-sir attitude. To diligently consume more and more to keep us moving forwards towards…. well, more. Work harder. Buy more things. Rinse, repeat.

To do anything less is unpatriotic.

This article topic was suggested by a reader for Over-To-Uesday. If you fancy suggesting an article for next week’s blog, message me on Twitter or drop me an email.


Radio – Someone Still Loathes You


RadioI’m not entirely sure where people hear about the latest music. I get judged on regular basis for mistakes like confusing Iggy Azalea with Azealia Banks, or commenting that Lorde sound completely different since their Eurovision hit Hard Rock Hallelujah. But if I do actually listen to the radio, I never seem to hear these newer songs.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never felt young enough to listen to Radio 1 (in fact I got a Cease & Desist letter from Nick Grimshaw when he took over just to make sure I didn’t accidentally tune in one morning). But even when I have no say on which radio station is playing, they all seem to play old songs. Songs which make people nostalgic for an non-specified “better time” somewhere between the late 80’s and early 00’s.

Then again this may come from being forced to endure the radio at work every day. As far as I’m concerned radio in the office is the worst. To paraphrase Sartre, hell is other people’s radio stations.

I’m not sure there’s a single radio station I can tolerate at work every day. Even the ones I like start to grate. But if you put on Heart and force me to listen to the same bloody playlist, ask me every 15 minutes “Who’s on Heart?” and cause the same pissing conversations in my office “Oh I love this song, it’s from Dirty Dancing” “Oh I love that film! The bit where he’s all “I’m not letting anyone put baby in the corner any more!” – so good!”. And no one else notices. No one. Listening to Heart is like a Mobius loop of dispair. You’re much better off buying the latest Now That’s What I Call Music CD and pausing it every 15 minutes to take a claw-hammer to the back of your own hand while looking up adverts for windscreen repairs and car insurance deals.

I’m not against music at work. I think that as a group bonding experience there’s not much better than music (except possibly putting the kettle on and/or supplying office biscuits). But nowadays radio is so outdated. Why not replace the electric lights with candles and send the intern down the well for water while you’re at it?

With modern technology like Spotify we have the almost magical ability to hear nearly any song from any time period (mostly the last 50 years admittedly). This is not without it’s problems as I still tend to listen to the same 20 or so songs, but with the collected taste and wisdom of a whole office, you get an eclectic mix and share recommendations, or you can put entire albums on and listen from start to finish – what a novel idea!

Video killed the radio star, but I think we should class it as euthanasia.

photo credit: DARC Funkertag 2004 via photopin (license)