(Epistemic Status: Probably considered manipulative/terrible; How certain kinds of power work; pretty much water is wet. Slightly incoherent, this is intentional.)
Good evening everyone, I’m happy to see you gathered here for Sunday devotions. Dear readers, you’re all such good girls and boys, diligently reading what I have to say. Do you hope to gain some wisdom tonight? Perhaps a new dangerous technology? A new social trick? Perhaps you just want to know how weird I am going to be today. Well, tonight I’m going to tell you all a little, teensy weensy secret. It’s very, very important and I trust you’ll be so very careful with it. I’m allowing you to know this because it’s vital to learning to be an individual…so it’ll all be ok. Are you still with me?
So, society trains us to act pretty fucking submissively, overall. I can’t say how universal this is since I’ve only really experienced American society but what I’ve heard (from the very society telling me submission is normal, of course) is that there’s not really a society exempt from turning its citizens into tools.
Starting from school and parenting, the virtues are clear. Cleanliness is next to godliness (because cleanliness is an accommodation for others and a waste of your time. Because godliness is a community ethic of getting daddy dommed.) Be still, be quiet, children should be seen and not heard (your value is aesthetic, for others, only Important People are allowed to talk. Funny how you never seem to become an Important Person.) My house, my rules (As if you’ll ever own a home. Well, even if you do, is authority over a child, hammering your square pegs into round holes any better than submitting to societal desire?) From childhood to adulthood, all we are taught is how to submit, never how to think, how to control, how to make decisions.
The issue is, we’re never taught this after becoming adults either.
Be still, be quiet (It’s disruptive to your coworkers if you don’t tap at your spreadsheets silently. This chair is ergonomically designed to keep you healthy, please don’t wander into the spaces you’re Not Allowed.) Don’t disobey or we’ll take away your job your money your car your home your life. You aren’t allowed to be sick today, there’s no one to cover.
Oh, but eventually you move up, right?
I wonder exactly how many managers there are compared to line workers? How often have you seen that delightful old lady, still greeting at Walmart. How often have baristas spent 10 years mixing the same drinks different ways. How often do you hear the same sweet secretarial voice answering your doctor’s phone?
Well, work is work, you have to sacrifice to function in society, and at least we’re in an individualist culture where you’re given fungible items to pursue your you.
I’m sorry, all lines are currently busy. Please wait on the line and a representative will answer your call shortly.
“I’d like to speak to my doctor?” “Are you returning their call?” “No, they’re my doctor though.” “Let me pull you up here and see what we can do. What would you like to speak with them about?” “That’s none of your business.” “Oh, ok, I’ll send a message and they’ll call you back. *click*” Maybe in a couple days.
You didn’t follow the rules of the system, therefore you must be punished. I’m allowed to punish you for having the temerity to try to defy the system. But I’m not allowed to do that all the time. I’m not allowed to skip the line myself.
The truth is, society is a castle. The guard is each of us, hired to keep each other out of the status garden. Even as you ascend the ranks in your organization, in your community, in your society, you only are getting a slightly more special key, a little closer to the garden. The people truly at the top don’t follow the same paths that are listed in the castle brochure. They sneak, bluff, charm, and sometimes outright fight their way in. Society trains us to be submissive, so they approach every situation with dominance. They know the right words to make us just a little nervous, to make us bend the rules just this one. They’re not aggressive about it (unless they should be), that smells weak and just causes the ranks to close. They’re charming, a clawed hand hidden under a silk glove. However, all is not lost. This power is something that can be wielded by those who don’t yet have status; the cost of a mistake is much higher though, because status comes with the ability to insulate oneself from a social failure. Without that, the social risk of being dominant in a society of submissives is higher and possibly not worthwhile (or so we’re to believe.)
The truth is, everyone runs on scripts. If you want something unusual from a bureaucracy, be prepared with a script; tell the functionary the steps, they’ll be happy to just have something to follow for The Weird Thing. If you want something romantically, know your role and know your script. If what you want doesn’t have a usual script (queer relationships, certain D/s dynamics) write one that cues the other person’s script builder. If you aren’t happy with your life following the paths laid out, make a decision to write your own script (startup founders understand this.)
The truth is, most people around you do not want to change their script. Society Punishes that, so they eventually learn helplessness. That’s why you can’t do weird things without letting other people know what they’re supposed to in response to them. However, something magical happens when you do let people know what their steps are. They start doing them, as if the music never changed.
The truth is, the hard part of changing things is understanding what you want to change and getting other people to listen long enough to figure out their script; when someone notices they’ve run out of script, they’ll either reject or accept what’s going on. The default is reject. Accepting is easier when more script is provided. If it takes too long for them to get on your script, then you’ve failed to change anything.
The truth is, society does most of the work, but it doesn’t tell you how to do the rest. I’m telling you how to do the rest; I can’t tell you how to achieve your specific goals by hijacking the scripts of those around you. If you’re serious, this should be the connection you need. If you’re not, well, you should be more comfortable following someone else’s lead anyway. Good girl.
(This is the tl;dr) Overall, there are a lot of points in here expressed several different ways. The first is that society instills submission in us. This isn’t a bad thing, it greases the wheels of civilization. The second is that someone is using those strings on us to keep society running. The elite, the rich on the top level, your boss, your parents, and others on the more local level. The third is that you can access the strings of the people around you if you know what you’re after. The fourth is that those strings are scripts. The fifth is that scripts can be hijacked if you tell people what they’re doing for you. The sixth is that after script breaking, you have to write the new script fast. The seventh is that using this for the sake of using it is stupid because it relies on knowing what you want; if you’re just fucking around stop fucking ruining things and be still, be quiet.
Discussion: Do you know the scripts you run to get through life? Have you ever had someone high status write your script for you to get what they wanted? Have you ever written someone’s script to get something you wanted? Are you a good girl/boy~?