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Pondering the universe


Co-workers and friends are not family

We can have close relationships with co-workers and have friends, some of which we may have had since school, but they are not family. So where does this narrative come from?

Co-workers are largely from a voluntary contractual arrangement taken with an employer, and they come along with that. While it is good to be on good relations with co-workers so that we don't create more stresses in what may already be a stressful working environment, we can walk away without any obligations. While we may have been friends with people for a very long time, there are no obligations. Of course, it is good to part on amicable terms, but the relationships are voluntary with no real ongoing obligations.

Families, while we do enter into them voluntarily, have ongoing obligations, especially if there are children. Everybody has valid expectations of mutual support. None of these apply to co-workers or friends. So where does this notion that we can just consider co-workers and friends as part of a family just because we spend a lot of time together come from?

We don't have to look too far for that, as such propaganda fills the entertainment we have all grown up with. Sit-coms use this narrative as it is convenient to minimise the number of characters and relationships that audiences have to track. Almost all entertainment wants to keep us addicted to wanting to vicariously live with the characters as if it is important to our wellbeing. That keeps the funding from the network so that advertisers keeps paying. We are being sucked into an elaborate game based on us as advertising fodder.

For many action movies, we have been implored to assume that a member of the hero's family, whose character arc is so deficient that we don't have a chance to get any emotional attachment to them, is so important to the hero that, after they are taken hostage, the hero is justified in indulging in the subsequent orgy of violence. Now we see such movies ramping up the narrative that the heroes are supposed to be like a family, even if they just got to meet before their big joint fight against some bad guys. That is a very shallow view of family that tries to exploit our deeper emotional ties.

But the idea of workers being part of a family serves the bigger narrative that we need to value work just as much as we do family. That is blatant propaganda to get us to be alright with being exploited and putting in more effort than justified by the remuneration. Of course, we would never be an equal part of the owner's family and certainly wouldn't get an equal share of the profits. This blurring of family serves to undermine our resolve to stand up for our rights and expect proper remuneration and respect.

We need to be wary of how much suspension of disbelief we give to our entertainment because a lot of it now wants us to buy into bigger societal narratives that deserve much more critical examination than what we can give them when fed them as dubious plot devices. We are being primed to allow exploitation by those who consider themselves the world's heroes. Fictional plots are like product placements, except that they are for a world view that we should not accept.

We may become more alert to such attempts to subvert our thinking when watching some entertainment, including games, and so don't enjoy some types and genres so much anymore, but we are better off without their brain worms. Suspend disbelief while watching, but be back in reality afterwards.

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