So, turkey day was yesterday (and today and tomorrow. I love leftovers) and it got me thinking. The past couple years have just sucked. Things I worked so hard for were taken away one at a time by giant corporate interests with no further thought to the actual people they were grinding under to save their own cushy jobs than anyone gives to deleting junk emails. The industry I thought I wanted to be a part of forever (publishing) lies in near-ruin, led there by short-sighted minds that cared more about their budget sheets and stock performance than their customers, employees and, god forbid, actual products.
We’ve seen an election that was supposed to bring about positive change, but really looks like nothing more than continued bailouts to some of the very same big corporations that have caused the problems we’re supposedly trying to fix (the banks and health insurance companies, to name just two). The possibilities for employment are slim to none (just look at the Help Wanted ads in the local paper some time, all five of them) and what jobs there are don’t pay anywhere near what people need to survive. Like I said, things just suck.
And yet, there are signs of positive change. So here are a few things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.
1. I’m thankful for the internet (even though I still refuse to use a capital I). While being the disruptive force to end all disruptive forces, it has also opened doors and access to people in a never-before seen way, with more coming every day. Large corporations are rightfully afraid of the pervasive influence of the web; it has done more to level the playing field between the haves and have nots than I ever thought was possible. And while it has contributed to the decline and fall of my industry of choice, and possible paychecks that go along with that, the sheer volume of possibilities it has created excites me about what the future may hold. Things may be bad for us publishing creative types now, but the internet is just beginning to do for us what it has already done for musicians. It has freed them from the yoke of the corporate recording industry machine, creating unheard of opportunities for bands to earn a living with their music without having to be fodder to whatever label chooses to use and discard them when sales decline. The same thing is happening to us. And while the recording industry fiercely fought those changes to its long-time dominance over artists, and won some battles over file-sharing, they ultimately lost the war. We, as the creative driving force behind publishing, have only just begun to fight, and we’ll win, too, helping to remove the corrosive influence of the corporate media masters from our lives.
2. I am thankful to Rupert Murdoch for continually spewing all sorts of asinine, backward thinking plans designed to save his empire and giving me plenty of material to rant about and criticize. It seems lately that not a day goes by that Rupert doesn’t engage in some vitriol or other that only serves to illustrate how out of touch the giant media companies have become. When titans die, it’s never pretty, and they never go quietly, but it’s always entertaining.
3. I am thankful for the economic downturn. That’s right, I said thankful. Sure, we’re all broke and desperately seeking answers, but what better illustration could there have been for we, the people to see just how unimportant we are both to our own government and the companies that employ us? No longer do we have any illusions that credit cards issuers give a damn about us, or that keeping a good credit standing and paying our bills on time means anything to them at all. They actually see people who pay off their balances in full as deadbeats and are jacking up your interest rates accordingly. Doesn’t feel so good, does it? Nor do we have any left-over visions of loyalty to whatever company employs us, nor should we. Isn’t it clear to everyone that most of these corporate executives would throw the women and children overboard to secure themselves a position in the lifeboat at this point? It’s not the 1950s any more, and it’s time we started acting like it. To large companies, we are nothing more than replaceable components on a budget sheet, not actual people with actual lives, families and problems. And when then going gets tough, it’s actually a good thing that we all now realize that when its a choice between saving their salaries and bonuses or saving jobs for the people in their employ, they’ll choose to save their own asses every time. Corporations have been using us for years, now we know that, in order to build the kind of future we all want, we need to use them instead. Without this kind of hardship, as difficult as it is today, that realization might never have come.
4. Lastly, I am thankful that I’m alive, healthy and mentally sound (well, reasonably so, anyway). There’s nothing that sucks the life and energy out of me quicker than boredom. Say what you want about our current economic mess, but the constant drive to find new ways to earn a buck and keep food on my table and in my dogs’ bowls is a constant challenge and it’s never boring. In the movies, 2010 is the year we meet some aliens. Hell, I’d like it to be the year I win the lottery. But failing that, this next year is a complete unknown to me. Where will I be next Thanksgiving? How will I be earning a living? Will I find the proper creative outlet for my talents, one that hopefully pays a little? These are the questions I have to face. The uncertainty can pull down some people, but I thrive on it. Challenges abound from this point forward; some I will meet, some I won’t, but I can guarantee that it will be a damned interesting ride. And that’s the best possible thing I can hope for. Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a turkey sandwich and an extra slice of pumpkin pie with my name on it.