20 July 2010

Day 115: Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman. ISBN: 9780380789023. 

We Can Get Them for you Whole Sale, Page 204-214.

The basics behind this short story, man contacts "pest control" to have a person from his office removed, they offer him a bargain and this quickly spirals out of control to the point where the man asks how much it would cost to kill everyone.  The more people he wants killed the cheaper it is.

The idea is that human life is not worth very much on a whole.  We are not a particular inspiring species.  We've completely taken ourselves out of our niche in nature, so we aren't even contributing to the whole "web of life" deal.  We are a rather miserable group of animals who behave atrociously, and we don't even have "animal instincts" to blame for it, because we're more god damned evolved than that.

There are even days where I wish a plague would just come along and wipe out half of the population.  This is entirely selfish, because I think we've gotten to the same state of overpopulation that Europe faced briefly before the bubonic plague...you know... the Black Death (and it's lesser known sequel).  I sort of wonder if the scientists have it all wrong about cancer.  Maybe it's not because there are carcinogens in the air and we're consuming too many preservatives and eat out of too much plastic.  After all, humans have been doing stupid and harmful shit to themselves for millenia.  I propose that humans themselves are toxic to each other.  There are so damned many of us that we give each other cancer.  Maybe being around all of the pheromones and other chemicals our bodies put out triggers something in our bodies that says, "Holy shit, there are a lot of you wandering around.  Time to thin the herd!"  Hell, maybe it explains general stupidity or the ease at which we seem to make huge mistakes as a species (I'm looking at you BP Oil).

But yeah, I could use a little global population-reducing catastrophe right now.  As terrible as the Black Death was, things improved dramatically for people who survived.  The serf system was no longer supportable, so there went slavelike work conditions.  Wages rose, people had a chance to move up through the ranks and obtain land for the first time.  The times became a more liberal because you had a more diverse landholders (i.e. important people who had sway in politics).

Of course, when you shrink humanity down to the people you know, the individuals, it's not such a great idea.  I wouldn't want to see my fiance die (as much as I tease him about it), or my mother, or much of anyone I know personally.  And I know that everyone has their own unique talents and worth, but it's so hard right now.  It's hard to see that when I'm getting conflicting messages about how wonderful I am (family and friends) and how I'm just not good enough (pretty much any job I apply to).  It's not that my career of choice is obsolete, or that I'm not qualified, it's that I'm a number.  I am one more cover letter in a pool of hundreds, and there is no way I can showcase my individuality that way.  Human Resources has very little to do with the humanity of individual applicants or even employees, because the emphasis is and always has been on the resource.  Right now, there's just a little too much supply and not enough demand.

*Post originally written June 20, 2010.  I'm takin' a day off folks.

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