Lurky McLurklurk (ionlylurkhere) wrote,
Lurky McLurklurk
ionlylurkhere

My thoughts on everything but yaoi ...

(and only not yaoi because everyone's already linked that blog entry written by the feminist going through Slash Shock)


I'm hating on capitalism even more than usual at the moment (usually, I have a dull ache that if only we were better at being nice, we could organise things in ways that were both much more efficient and did a much better job of approximating the greatest good of the greatest number). Possibly my increase in hate has come about since I've got a radio in my car now so can listen to Today on the way to work and PM on the way home. Because Evan Davis and co's explanations of the "credit crunch" and "downturn" and so on sound an awful lot like "greedy people persuaded themselves in the face of all the evidence of history that the good times would last forever, fleeced poor people by selling this lie to them too{*}, then sold the debt on to other greedy people in complicated ways so that no one was really sure who had what, except that they all had lots of it". It's pure greed all the way{**}.

And is it just me or doesn't this whole thing where "the banks won't lend to each other because they're not sure who's got dodgy assets" suggest that they all secretly know they've got dodgy assets of their own, and that's why they assume the others do too?

And I really am very, very sick of being told in awed terms that some people think the psychology of the traders has as much to do with the market's behaviour as anything else. No Fucking Shit, Sherlock. (I have always thought that the greater the level of abstraction away from actual goods and services, the more it's all an evanescent epiphenomenon of intersecting belief systems. It took me most of my adolescence to come to terms with the idea that cash worked the way it did, trufax.)

(All of which said, I would like to reaffirm that I love Anji to bits.)

Anyway, part of hating on capitalism is hating on the advertising industry. And this is where we get to LJ and the strike that I'm clearly not taking part in. (I do feel a little bit like I'm crossing a picket line, posting. Obviously not a lot like I am, or I wouldn't be doing it. But still, I have socialist cultural leftist guilt.)

In my opinion, advertising is not benign; it does not even normally scale the heady heights of neutral. It is mostly designed to make you want things you do not need, and often to pay for them with money you don't have. It is, ultimately, the pump keeping the capitalist system going, and what we're seeing at the moment is the well running dry.

And advertising is obnoxious. The marketing people are in an arms race with our ability to ignore them. That's why every major sports ground is plastered in logos that look weird and distorted if you're actually there, but are perfectly placed so that on TV they look like they've been superimposed, and the billboards round the side are electronic flashing gimmicky things that flicker in your eyes at exactly the right frequency to be maximally annoying. It's why our browsers all have inbuilt ad killers these days, to the extent that we've all forgotten how irritating pop ups and so on are, but as far as the advertising industry was concerned they were fair game because it's all about imposing themselves on your attention to tell you stuff that you were perfectly capable of finding out for yourself when you were good and ready. And it's why so many advertisers are out to shock so much of the time. (I don't know about the rest of the world, but the regulation of advertising in the UK is a joke, entirely after the fact with no sanctions with any real teeth. [Private Eye's Ad Nauseam column is worthwhile reading.]) To my mind, there's no difference between spammers and "legitimate" advertisers, it's just a question of what level they're operating at.

So I've been somewhat surprised by the number of people whose reaction to the removal of Basic has ranged between "meh, it's been a long time coming" and "well, if it helps pay for our servers then I'm all for it". And I wonder how much of it is actually just my upbringing. Which was very British middle class. It wasn't the done thing to watch ITV in our house, because (although this was never explicitly stated) it was commercial and thus a bit vulgar. (Then again, my Dad's about face on the awfulness of soaps when Brookside started having lesbians in it was hilarious.)

And the weird thing is, I'm very good at ignoring adverts. They are practically invisible to me, particularly on the Internet. If I'm Googling in the hope of finding a specific site, and it comes up as one of the Sponsored Links but not in the first page of the main results, I won't even notice unless someone else is there to point it out to me. But I still feel like I shouldn't be having to ignore them, and that the fact that I am ignoring them is just escalating the arms race.

The thing is, though, that the money does have to come from somewhere. Within the system as it currently stands, the only other way anything gets done is by people who've got the cash deciding to invest it directly{***}. Which is great as long as there are people who've got the cash and are interested in Activity X{****}, but that's not a valid general solution and it sure as hell doesn't scale.

So I sympathise with the anger of some of the people "striking", and I can see why "I'm going to stop contributing the content end of the equation to show my anger" is appealing, but the trouble with it is the trouble there's always been with capitalism in the absence of very strong trade unionism, that they can always find another person to do the same thing. In the end, we are technopeasants. (All this is complicated further in LJ's case by a) the fact that it is a social network, so you're only going to achieve anything by a genuine mass emigration to some other service{***}, which would require either accepting the same problems from a different set of people in charge or someone with a vast amount of money deciding to sort it out and b) the fact that any attempt to start an LJers' union that could take effective collective action would be like herding cats.)

{*} I have experienced first-hand the sorts of high pressure financial sales tactics that were involved here. It is not a win-win scenario for all concerned that proves the market works well.
{**} [Green Lantern footnote, because I am obsessed with the Rainbow Lanterns plotline] Seriously, I would love it if when the first orange ring arrives in Sector 2814 it heads straight for Wall Street. I can see it now -- one of these dodgy broker types who deliberately misled the market or something, kicked out on his arse and at his lowest ebb, until the ring comes along and tells him he has the capacity to be really greedy, or whatever good way they're going to phrase it (Greed continues to strike me as the least convincing of the seven parts of the emotional spectrum, but let's face it, I'll be fine once they come up with an oath). And then he starts using the ring to get things for himself? (Actually, isn't there going to be a big problem for the Orange Corps that all its members are going to be entirely about what they can use the ring to get for themselves?)
{***} As a terribly minor example of same, my JournalFen account is still paid for a while so I can get new accounts made for (over 18) people if they want. Comment here if you do.
{****} Speaking tangentially of which, here is indefatigable42 (concisely) pointing out that the easiest way to deal with LJ's continuing lack of any clue about what it wants to do with the interests feature is to stop using it. I am off to delete my list in a second.
Tags: ljing abot lj, politics, rainbow lanterns
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