I was in a conversation the other morning…
A conversation? We were texting. As in, on cell phones. I’m not sure when it became natural to think of that as a conversation, but for me at least, it seems to fit the qualifications of an interaction. It’s not as good as hearing the timbre of someone’s voice, seeing the light behind their eyes, and watching the animation of their faces and the fluidity of their bodies, certainly–but with the right people in the right circumstances it has enough of the immediacy and give-and-take, if not the intimacy, to qualify as a form of conversation.
Anyway, like I was saying, I was in a conversation the other morning, with a friend…
A friend? We’ve never met. Not in person, at least. Online. I’m not sure when it became natural to think of that as a friendship. We met on Twitter, and Facebook, and Instagram and LinkedIn and Twitpics and Flickr and Google+ and instant message and voice memos and email and in the virtual wine section of the virtual natural food store and I completely made that last part up but you probably believed me for at least a fraction of a second.
<aside to this aside…>I think I just broke a record for run-on sentences.</aside aside>
Back to the original aside… I guess there was a time when people might have considered a pen-pal to be a friend even if they hadn’t met in what we now call meatspace, but I have lived a long time and known a lot of people, and yet I can only remember one or two people ever saying such a thing had happened to them.
Anyway, like I was saying, I was in a conversation the other morning, with a friend, and the subject meandered around to us having somehow both become job zombies.
The concept of job zombie was a kind of revelation to me, which probably means I need to get out of the house a lot more often for reasons other than to go to work.
It also probably means I need to expand the scope of my conversations about literature beyond just talking with my homework-hating teenager, who will try to sidetrack any school assignment into some sort of geeky game-referencing sci-fi Internet meme institution-insulting socially-and-culturally-inappropriate endeavor carefully calculated to appall any adult unfortunate enough to encounter it.
Anyway, like I was saying, on the subject of job zombies…
A zombie is an animated corpse brought back to life by mystical means, such as witchcraft. (Wikipedia.) A job zombie is an animated corpse brought back to life by chemical means, such as coffee or cigarettes.
The term “zombie” is often figuratively applied to describe a hypnotized person bereft of consciousness and self-awareness, yet ambulant and able to respond to surrounding stimuli. (Wikipedia again.) The term “job zombie” describes exactly the same state of being, except there’s the promise of a paycheck in a couple weeks.
Zombies remain under the control of the sorcerer, called a “bokor,” since they have no will of their own. Job zombies’ controlling sorcerers are called “consultants,” “advisors,” “auditors,” “analysts,” “directors,” “performance measurements,” “quarterly reports,” “the media,” “coaches,” “standards,” and thousands of other unspeakable names.
Zombies often suffer from profound speech deficiencies, such as being restricted to limited vocalizations such as grunts and groans. Job zombies are also subject to speech deficiencies, most commonly the propensity to use as verbs words that are not, and never have been, verbs.
Zombies particularly want to eat your brains. Job zombies are generally quite content with donuts. They do still crave brains, but mostly just so they can take credit for whatever good ideas those brains might have come up with on their own.
Zombie fiction is now a sizeable sub-genre of horror, usually describing a breakdown of civilization occurring when most of the population become flesh-eating zombies — a zombie apocalypse. Job-zombie nonfiction, by contrast, is now an increasingly expected outcome of institutional processes, usually describing a breakdown of sanity occurring when most of the workforce becomes subject to things called, among other terms, “SharePoint implementation,” “Reorganization,” “Quality improvement,” or the dreaded “In order to better serve our customers…”