Friday, October 30, 2009

It's only a scandal if I'm not the customer but part of the scandal

I want to address a topic that really made me angry today. On this website that I often point out mistakes from, there was this article about my workplace (Agentur für Arbeit - the national employment agency). It was about a "scandal" with data protection.

The story went like this: Some unemployed people went to a talk show on tv and talked about their difficult situation. The days after, thousands of employees of my workplace throughout the country accessed the computer files of these customers who went to the talk show, because obviously, they were really interesting, so they wanted to read up on them. It became public that employees are so interested in people they see on tv. That's the scandal.

Below the article was a comment function, and of course, lots of idiots had to make their comments: "typical for Germany", "why not just implant a chip into anyone's brain", "they know what we're up to anyway", "the whole government is after us","it's like the spy system in former East Germany" and so on. Then I posted my comment and made some things clear:

1. Nobody in our institution is allowed to let any information leak to outsiders. What's in the agency, stays in the agency, no matter how many people in the agency are interested. Anything else would be a violation of laws and would result in being fired and possibly sent to prison.

2. It is a useful thing that the information is accessible throughout the whole country, because customers move, and if the information was only accessible to the employees who currently deal with the case, it would either require people at a different agency to ask the customer for all the information again, or it would take a while to unlock the files. Both would drive the customers, who are naturally very impatient and hate our agency, insane.

3. People who go to a tv show to striptease their life should not be surprised if they get a lot of attention afterwards.

More things should be pointed out:

4. Curiousity is a human character trait. If you trigger it, people will go after you.

5. Whenever I forbid customers at my workplace to change or ask for things on behalf of someone else (their children or husbands / wives), they become angry and never get it. They think I like to annoy them, but what I try to do is to stick to the rules. In 99 of 100 cases, a person trying to change something on behalf of someone who is not present will be a normal thing, without bad intentions, but in 1 out of 100 cases, it will be a jealous wife who caught her husband cheating on her and wants revenge. That is the reason why we don't let anyone access the files. But strangely enough, it's only a scandal when it's the way it's written in the article. People never see the other side of things.

Even worse, I once went to an authority where they asked me to show my private emails to them. And when I checked if it's legal, I was told that yes, it is legal, they are allowed to ask for that and I have to comply. Is that not a much bigger scandal? No... because it only affects me and few other people who add up to a minority that will never have a voice loud enough to scream.

It's really, really bullshit. You know, if the people at my workplace change the computer systems and make files harder to access anywhere in Germany, it will lead to side effects that will cause anger among the customers. People will wonder why it's impossible to access files. Even today, people come to us and say "hey, why don't you have any files, I was there only 5 years ago". Well, all the files will be deleted at some point, and that is also for a good reason. But it's never good enough. Never ever.

There was one scandal that I would really call a scandal at my workplace. One colleague (no idea who it was) tried to park her car on the public parking lot, but a customer took the place just before her and she was so angry that she showed him the finger and said "wait until I process your documents"... the crazy thing is that this happened in front of the customer and a witness that belongs to the customer. I would not be surprised if the person responsible will be fired. The damage done to the image of the corporation is so immense, and every day I try so hard to give my workplace a good image, but it's so hard with all the prejudice against us.

What remains is the fact that customers like to feel like kings, and they always want it their way. They complain about anything, and nothing is ever good enough. At the same time, they live in one of the wealthiest countries of all and receive benefits that other countries don't even offer in the first place. They are so spoilt, I sometimes say it's time for another world war so people learn to be humble again. Humility is a rare good nowadays.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Updates that suck

Recently, I had to bury what was left of Youtube's nice functions. It used to be such a good site once. But then, they changed the search function and made it so complicated for me to find the right videos. Now, our worst fears have come true. The new channel design, first a choice for those who liked it, was now forced on us all. And man, it really sucks.

It's as inconvenient as it can get. The featured video is so damn big that you have to scroll down for what feels like half a day to get to the channel information. The "videos" are now "uploads", first it's really confusing because you are wondering "so what is this... oh that's the person's own videos... thanks". Why always change the way things are called? Next time it's called "personal video" and "foreign video" for uploads and favourites?! Damn... and speaking of favourites, they are now, just like the uploads, in a long list, one video below the other. It used to be more convenient, you could see them in rows, easily 9 videos at the same time.

Also, when you click on any video, it loads directly in the channel of that person. But that's not what I want. When I click on a video, I want to go to the link where the video itself is, not watch it embedded in a channel. There is also the next fuckup. It doesn't display comments for the selected videos. Below the video is a text line that says "Show comments and related videos". But when you click on that, it does not cause a drop-down of comments and videos, it opens the damn page of the video itself and makes the video load all over again. What's the point of loading the video within the channel when all the convenience that comes from the video's page is only available when going to the page itself?!

There is another thing I really hate, and it has to do with Mozilla Firefox, or as I like to call it, Mozilla Firefucker. Usually something good, but it now has an irritating new function:

When I mark any text because I want to copy, delete or cut it out, a menu appears when right-clicking it. That is normal. But now, this menu suddenly disappears half the time within a split second and I have to do it again. Then the option on top is new... search menu... to me, this is entirely pointless because I already know what I want to do with my text. I usually want to insert it into some other blank space on a website I have already opened. It feels unnatural having to go down with my mouse until I can select copy. After doing it the same way for so many years, it's like learning to write again after a stroke. Can't things stay the same for once? What are they going to do next? Release every mouse with switched buttons? Or change the keyboard so that the upper line no longer consists of Q, W, E, R T in that order, but consists of the letters that are used to spell Bill Gates?

Or how about this: Get rid of all keyboards, and instead, make adapter cables so that you can connect a cell phone with the PC on the keyboard output and forever type with your cell phone instead of the keyboard. Judging what Youtube and others do, we will soon reach this level of discomfort. And they would market it as saving space, because a keyboard is so big while a cellphone is super small. So it makes sense, right? Right???

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Emotional bankruptcy

I have lost all the energy that was left. The courage is gone, the will to keep going is gone. I just want to give up already.

Nobody knows how damaged I am inside. After answering so many questions and telling so many things, there is not enough soul left to feel anything but hopelessness.

I have reached the point when people talk about my life as something good, they say I'm about to enter a phase of happiness. But all that causes in me is to realise how unhappy I really am. Not only can I not share their feeling that my life is supposedly getting better, it even makes it worse because I am not just not happy, I'm unhappy. And to acknowledge that makes it feel so much more destructive.

I get mixed signals, too. I am often told that I am basically fighting for survival. They tell me that I have to see how I can earn a living that's enough to just stay alive, they say I need to look for an apartment, but that it's hard because I don't earn enough to even earn someone's trust to rent the apartment to me. I have a limited contract, so I might even not keep doing what I do. They tell me so many bad things and make me worry.... but it's the happiest time of my life. How does that work?

They make crazy plans and focus on details so tiny that I don't even waste a thought on them. Yet, these details are what other people focus on. Other people who do feel happy. I don't have the energy or optimism to consider these things. It's already amazing how some people seem to live in their own world like that. It makes me feel like someone suffering from serious depression on a sunny day when everyone is enjoying the sun, the flowers, and playing together. They see what I see, but the feelings are so different. I'm so distant from all this.

The stress and exhaustion from the last couple of months have sucked all the life out of me. When I thought I had enough, I still kept pushing myself further.... keep answering questions... keep playing the good person.... keep appeasing, keep saying it's alright, keep saying you're sorry. Then, at some point, I just want to be alone.

I'm starting to regret what I've done. I think I entered a one-way road that might go anywhere. Unhappiness, worries, fear. What I lose is the freedom to let it be my problem, and my problem alone.

It would be good to be able to cry. But crying implies some sort of relief. To be so finished that even crying is already a good thing. But I'm not at this point. I can feel sadness like a faint toothache, but it doesn't break through as tears because I'm too numb, too emotionally dead.

I can't even make them understand what my problem is. Just like back then when I was suffering from depressions. You can't share the feelings that other people have, but you can't make them understand why. Why it's not fun to look at a flower. Why it's not fun to play. They don't know why it doesn't feel good.

Even the supposedly best thing that happens in life is something I can't look forward to any more. Sometimes I wish I could escape. Run away and never come back.

The only thing that keeps me sane is my work, as limited as the contract may be. It's like a video game, I step into the shoes of someone else. I am not me as a private person, I am me as the service person, the data entry person, the teacher, the colleague, the guy who can say funny things because it's only work. I don't have to carry my problems around at work. All I think about at work is why this and that letter was sent to this and that person, or whether I can call this or that person because the appointment that's free would be tomorrow already and I can't send an invitation for something so soon. The problems at work are simple. A door doesn't close, that's annoying, but it doesn't make me worry for the rest of my life. Some beeping sound annoys me, but it's a small concern. The printer is so loud. Who cares. I like my work, and I never thought I would enjoy my work more than my private life. Now I know why workaholics exist. Even I find myself working more than usual.

When I was suffering from depression 10 years ago, I sometimes thought I would rather disappear from this world. There was only one thing I hated about it: Even if I felt very alone in this world, someone would always have to cry because of me leaving. I wished back then that at least nobody would care so I could die in peace and not with a guilty feeling. It's strange, but today I had this feeling again:"I wish nobody would notice that I exist, just so I can free myself of all burdens".

Now I'm wondering what would happen if I decided on different things: To pull through with everything despite the pain. Or throw away all plans just to be left alone for a while. To not give a damn at all and change my life completely. To start over in any thinkable way. To give myself up and not do anything any more except for going to work. Many possibilities. But whatever I do, I can only go one way and I only find out later what it was good for. And every time I go somewhere, I regret something.

It's a very lonely feeling being the only one who can't look forward any more while everyone else is, and at the same time being in the center of attention. It's a bizarre situation, like being the dead person in a funeral, just with opposite feelings. Everyone feels something strong, only you don't feel that way.

I will go to bed early tonight. And to express my state of going nowhere, I will not do anything to fall asleep earlier. I will just lie in bed motionless and not act until my sleep comes. If it doesn't come, I will stay up all night, but what I will not do is try to force myself to sleep by any means. I'm too tired to do anything any more.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

How religions try to sound politically correct

Today I was about to watch a DVD when I saw something on tv about gay marriage. There was a pastor who spoke about it, and he said that he supports gay marriage because "God gave these people their sexual orientation as a gift".

Well... I'm sorry, but NO! This is a very cheap excuse. You can't have it both ways. You can't say that gay marriage and gay sex is okay on the one hand, and on the other hand, the bible is still true in every way, written by the one and only god and free of errors.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against gay people. They can be gay, it's none of my business, as much as it's none of my business what other people believe in, think, their political views, or what country they are from. But one thing that's clear is that you can't politically correctisize (yes, I'm making up that word) everything in this world.

You know, many things are okay. You can see things from a human rights point of view, from a idealist point of view, from a freedom point of view. Everything works. You want every person to be happy and do what makes them happy. That's okay. And I can come up with the statement that gay people are doing nothing wrong from a democratic point of view, but if I was a Christian, which I am not, I would have to insist that gay people are going to hell because the bible says it's a severe sin.

You wish the bible was democratic, open-minded, and you wish that everything that unfolds in this world would be in accordance with what the bible says, but it's not. The people who wrote the bible never thought of the idea that a democratic world would come up where being gay is fine with most people. That's why it's now difficult to make Christianity look acceptable in society. It forbids things that our democratic standard wants to perceive as normal.

As much as I hate to admit it, other religions are less prone to this practice of interpreting everything the most convenient, least rejectable way. Islam for example, maybe the religion I usually critisize the most, goes so much against homosexuality and other things considered to be sexually wrong that it upsets the western world so much, and it does seem wrong, but at least they are always in line with what they claim to be - a religion with clear rules.

Christianity is becoming a joke, even for people who are no longer in that religion. You know, if you're Christian and you're gay, or you're Christian and you think that homosexuality and going to heaven go together, then you really have to argue with things written in the bible, taking into consideration what was said in the bible against homosexuality. It's not enough to just say "God gave it as a gift". Because if that's the lazy excuse, then what about me? I was given the lovely gift of scepticism, of rebellion against religion, of doubting and rejecting religion. Am I going to heaven because I was born as an intelligent being, rather than someone who is dull and ignorant and only embraces what the parents taught? Why does the excuse not apply to me? Or does it? Does everyone go to heaven now? Well, obviously not, judging the passages of the raging god some of us may remember reading.

The bible clearly says that a guy should not put his love soldier into another guy's... okay, let's not go there.

To sum it up, being gay is okay, but only when you think as a modern person of the 21st century. When you think as a Christian, it's not okay. I don't mean to offend gay Christians, but I'm really sorry, you guys (and girls) need to do a lot of work to prove that what Jesus says about loving your neighbour overshadows the old testament's "don't fuck with guys if you're a guy and don't fuck with girls if you're a girl". I think this "love your [whatever]" is often mistaken for "making love" anyway.