Monday, December 20, 2010

Life in the Valley of Angst

When things start to get so good that even Sacramento begins to emerge from the world’s economic doldrums, the nature of work available to Sac’to seekers (both homeless and housed) — like those in the U.S., generally — is going to be fundamentally changed.

Businesses have been hit on the head with the baseball bat of a realization that the future is not secure and they are going to configure their workforces accordingly. Workers, like the businesses they work for, are going to have to permanently adapt to an ever-nervous work climate.

What does this mean? General instability in the workforce. More temporary employment. No unions. Fewer benefits, and a rattier rat race. People’s resumes will have far fewer records of decades-long associations with one company, and far more entries of one-, two- and three-yearweek stints and being constantly on the move.

More businesses will emerge from nowhere, and more will be boarded up.

Stress. Dynamism. Mobility.

Great Recession or no Great Recession, this shake up that will have everybody being constantly shaken up was coming, anyway. Future Shock is Now.

Future Shock was a book in 1970, written by Alvin Toffler, that’s time has fully arrived. Quoting wikipedia,
Toffler argues that society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a "super-industrial society". This change will overwhelm people, the accelerated rate of technological and social change leaving them disconnected and suffering from "shattering stress and disorientation" – future shocked. Toffler stated that the majority of social problems were symptoms of the future shock. In his discussion of the components of such shock, he also popularized the term "information overload."
The predicted implications from all this? More fear and depression and more substances out there to medicate and self-medicate against all the turmoil.

All those things and those people which we used to have and know in our lives will seem rented and just visiting. We will be constantly up-in-the-air, except during those times when we’re splattered on the concrete.

As homeless people, we have a jump-start on the future. The mayor and homeless-services industry in our “burg at the convergence of two rivers” have it wrong: The homeless in the future won’t get housed and become, again, “normal.” The housed and established will, instead, become more like us: shell-shocked and subjected to the unflagging cruel winds.

As forerunners of the Great Untethered Mass that everyone will soon be a part of, we homeless can be guides and mentors.

So, here, you working people, trembling in your little homes. A Freebie. Words of guidance to help you when first out on your walk in the Valley of Angst.
The world is horrible and corrupt, much more so than the news media ever let you know, and only now for you in dire circumstances does it really matter. And it matters a damn lot.

Much else that you thought was good never was. Your comforter, now, through all this is only the knowledge that your eyes are open and you can see. It’s a faux spiritual awakening.

Life is fragile, but only those in the Valley of Angst know this.

Little things are wonderful and all the more so when you don’t have them. But when you don’t have them and know they're wonderful, you feel an intense sense of deprevation.
And, finally, for those of you trembling in your little houses in the Wonderland Development Complex: “Swallow, this.”


Blogger Nagarjuna said...

Excellent but sobering post. Tremble, indeed, over the frightening future unfolding before us!

December 21, 2010 at 11:31 AM  
Blogger Tom Armstrong said...

Sorry, there, Nagarjuna. We homeless generally don't mean to be "sobering." Drink half of a 211 to calm you down. You can drink the other 105 1/2 this evening if you're still nervous.

December 21, 2010 at 2:13 PM  

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