In february, I was laid off as a web designer of a dot com company, after being given our WARN notices. I took spring semester at a local college to pass the time. After four months of searching, I found a job at a call center doing over-the-phone support for a large hardware company. It was the best I could do - even with three years of professional support experience, I had to take a job that paid around $13 an hour. I don't know what I was thinking... I could have made almost the same on unemployment benefits... but I didn't want to be on 'welfare'. Two months after I started, I quit - due to budget cutbacks and poor management, the few staff they had were overworked, severely stressed, and under constant micromanagement and party to "the numbers game". Poor working conditions though aren't an excuse to go on unemployment. It probably didn't help that my former employer lied to their staff by saying that the WARN act notification meant we couldn't collect unemployment benefits - even after termination. That was in early June. Since then, I've been searching for a job in IT. I've run out of money now, and I am living with my parents. I'm also a little bitter, because of the disillusionment.
Capitalism - a wonderful system whereby if you work hard and kiss ass, you'll make lots of money. I found out that's a lie.
Information Technology - the next "Really Great Thing". Imagine that - I first decided to apply my computer skills in a professional way right as the internet boom was starting to take off. Within a few years I had a $40k/yr job as a web designer. I heard I could make a lot more, but I needed the experience - I knew I already had the skills. Well, that was also a lie. The dot com bubble burst, not because the technology couldn't enhance our economy and make us better off, but because nobody in the 'mainstream' knew its limitations, and the hype and marketing overtook common sense on the stock market, and caused its collapse, and later nationwide recession due to the 'wealth effect'. Yay.
I'm still looking for a job, of course. This week I've resolved to get started in a new field. I'm not bitter though... it doesn't matter that big business lied about 'labor shortages' to push down wages, and the people I elected into office didn't do their job and put us over a barrel and that my hobby went from obscurity to fashionable to criminal inside five years with the introduction of the DMCA and related 'intellectual property' laws.
This year has been a bad year for geeks, I think. Some of us have gotten lucky - with a company with solid financial foundations, or with skills either too specialized (oracle database administrator) or so high in demand that even with the slowdown there's still demand - like progammers. But a lot of us got hit, hard. A lot of people are in this industry for the money - not the passion, and in true capitalistic form, I suppose that's ok. I just wish economic practice worked as well as economic theory. Techies.com had an article recently - something like 80% of those who became unemployed within the past 6 months in the IT industry are still unemployed today. Could be worse those... some of us are in jail, for leveraging the two things that computers were explicitly designed for - copying and dissemination of information (the RIAA, the MPAA, Adobe...) and the manipulation of information (the ITAR regulations, 'cybercrime', intellectual property)... and for answering the call of true hackerism - that information is a powerful tool for good, and can help people, and should not be kept locked behind closed doors. Yes, it has been a bad year for geeks.
So this week, this computer geek - first dismissed by society, and then its savior for the 'new economy', will come full circle and go apply for a job on the factory floor. This is the American Dream, I suppose... but life goes on. I've taken on new hobbies - learning to draw - artistically, not with stick figures... I've got a geometry book over here I read and work on, in the hopes that I can "crack the code" and learn electronics. Maybe, with enough work, I'll reclaim what the indian giver Capitalism provided to me, and move out of my parent's place, get an apartment, and throw my car away and get something that gets more than 6 miles to the gallon, has a missing tooth on the cam gear, a failing cooling system, and an ignition system that puts tesla coil builders to shame. Maybe.
But in the meantime? I'm going to draw. I'm going to read. I'm going to hang out with my friends, and try not to dwell on something I can't fix. I've had a lot of fun with my friends. I see them every day, they help me keep my spirits up and my imagination free. It's just a phase, I'll get back on my feet. There's a job out there for me, with computers, something challenging and rewarding and I'll find it. Someday.
But for what it's worth... that's been my year, and that's my story - from the trenches, just like it ought to be - I'm grinning down here, and enjoying the view, and hoping the war ends soon so we can all get back to our business.
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.