My husband and I were talking in the car yesterday on the way to the gym, and he said something about C-COM. Understand, C-COM stands for the “Corporate Cock of Misery.” It is a tongue-in-cheek expression coined by a philosophical and angsty friend of ours. It is all the things we do or are forced to do as a result of our enslavement to “The Man,” the corporation, Big Business, or technology. It embodies all the ways that we are used, controlled, directed, etc., some of which we do not even realize. It refers to the fact that in our work lives, even our leisure lives, we are part of the larger structure that is run and controlled by The Corporation.
You may not realize all the ways in which we are part of C-COM. Of course, the obvious one is our work lives. We get up, shower, eat (or shoot ourselves up with caffeine because it is just too damned early), get dressed in our work “uniform” (most places have some kind of dress code; at my job, we are only allowed to wear jeans on Friday), and we go to work everyday without thinking about how everything we do is organized around the fact that we MUST WORK. What we wear, what we eat, how we act, even the people with whom we associate (or do not associate, since after work we are so tired most of us just want to go home and take a nap or chill in front of one screen or another – another form of conditioning) are all dictated by our place in the social structure of C-COM. And if we are lucky enough to enjoy our work, we may not think much about it, because we feel lucky to have the job. But everything is a trade-off. If you are making a lot of money, you might be working at job with no fulfillment. If you are fulfilled at your job, you probably don’t make a lot.
“NOT ME,” you think, because you work at home. Well, you may have escaped the first tier of C-COM, but it is all around you, and you are affected by it, whether or not you realize it. The Corporation, or corporate structure, or Big Business, are threaded through every aspect of American life. We have become so used to it, we don’t even notice it. It has affected the way we work, eat, and play, even the way we raise (or do not raise) our children. It has to do with the standard of living we expect, but even that is conditioned by C-COM (ad campaigns that influence our attitudes and choice are included).
I think it started sometime in the 1980s. I noticed that suddenly, the price of cars was up significantly from what it had been. And people were choosing more luxurious cars than they had before. My husband had a “stripped down” (that means no electric windows, etc, just a basic car) Nissan which had cost him around $6,000 that had been destroyed by a disgruntled former student (the guy went nuts – that’s another story) and we were able to purchase a Subaru Loyale (also a very basic car, not substantial looking, but actually thin and frail looking, but a good car) for around $8,000 in 1989 (without air conditioning…we had to pay $900 to add that). While shopping for that car, I noticed that finding a car in that price range had been very hard. Soon afterward, I noticed people driving around in bigger, more luxurious, souped up cars (SUVs were becoming popular then, and I hated them for their air of greed, hubris, and gas consumption) but what I also noticed was that there were fewer stay-at-home moms. Women were going to work in droves, leaving a string of latch-key kids in their wake. This meant the babies were being raised in day-care centers or by the school system, and even when these kids got home, they could not depend on someone to be there to greet them, give them an after-school snack, and monitor their TV watching or send them outside to play. This was the beginning, in my opinion, of the trends we have toward narcissism and obesity, and the sore lack of manners kids have now. Lack of home training is all the fault of C-COM.
I work at the college level as a tutor and I read a lot of the assignments the kids are given. One essay I read last semester was written by a guy who wrote that, because his mother had not been home to cook for him, he had been forced to eat fast food growing up and this was the cause of his obesity problem, which he now carried into his adult life. Whether or not you agree with this, the fact is his mother was not there to cook for him and he, being a kid, was either lazy or uneducated about how to make healthy food choices, but even if they know, most kids will eat what they like, which is usually something bad for them. There is a book, Fast Food Nation, which explains the McDonald’s syndrome, the idea that we are conditioned from a very young age to associate fast food with happiness and comfort, which continues into our adulthood, and then, of course, we indoctrinate our own children into this vicious cycle of fast food consumption. This, too, is part of C-COM.
Today, parents spoil their kids with an overabundance of tech toys: phones, gaming systems, ipods, etc., things that a couple of decades ago were only given to very wealthy kids, but now all kids expect. In the 1970s, it was considered a privilege to have a small, black and white TV in one’s bedroom. In the 1980s this sort of thing became more prevalent. Now, a kid could almost never leave his room. Families used to have one, modestly-sized TV for the house, now there are several and at least one is a giant, or HD, TV. The money that it takes to be an American nowadays is horrendous. Most people in third world countries live on less than $1 a day. We spend more than that on lattes each morning! Can you imagine living on $30 a month? You wouldn’t get a shower or three square meals a day, let alone drive a fat SUV or come home to a shiny, new computer.
Gaming is also a problem, and laziness has become normal in American society. Kids used to have chore requirements but very few now do. Most kids come home and go to the TV, computer, or video game console. Is it any wonder they are obese? Many schools have consolidated and moved their giant buildings far out of town so kids can’t walk to school if they wanted to, but even if they do want to, we are so concerned with their safety we will drive them 500 feet to the bus stop and sit there in the car till the bus gets there! (This is no joke. This happens in my neighborhood every day). This is because we are so paranoid of the kids being kidnapped and abused…when did this begin? Again, sometime in the 1980s, when child sexual abuse was first coming into the public light, and then in the 1990s or so when kidnapping was suddenly a big problem. But we cannot live our lives in fear! I used to walk over 12 blocks to school as a child in grade school in the small city of Charleston, WV. I walked to school almost every day of my life and I believe this was partly responsible for my lack of obesity (along with genetics; my parents were both thin…but most people born before 1970 were thin; back then, fat was the exception; now it is the rule). Today, we have to have studies to tell us to go outside for even five minutes a day.
So how is C-COM responsible for this? Well, as I said, the consolidation of schools (done for budgetary reasons…it’s cheaper to run one big school than several small, local ones, and when you are going to build a large thing like a school you need land, which is almost always found far out of town, necessitating busing) reduced in great measure the number of kids who can walk to school. When we place budgetary considerations before education and health for our kids, we have sold out to C-COM…the corporate structure always puts money first, and now education has fallen prey to this. This has caused a terrible chain reaction for our kids: they sit on the bus, they sit in school, they come home and sit in front of some screen…where, it happens, they can be ministered to by ads by companies telling them what they ought to go out and buy (C-COM again!). They have no parents home to tell them to eat right and go outside (because they are at work) and now the whole family has fallen under the spell of C-COM.
To be continued…