Bank of America, Bank of China, AIG, Ritz, Cheong Kong, Hong Kong Club, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Jardine House, Intl Finance Centre, Four Seasons, The Center, Cosco, Hongkong, originally uploaded by hanneorla.
If there’s something I’ve been reminded of in this decade, it’s that financial systems are all connected and that a person in a posh shirt or blouse abstractly shifting small numbers across a screen in the hopes that they become bigger numbers has the capacity to effect the everyday lives of dozens even hundreds of their fellow humans at the click of a mouse, the tap of a key. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have that power, but equally I can’t imagine having that power and not making sure I was aware of the results of my actions, of being shut out from the process. Over and over I’ve heard early digital gold-rushers, usually those who’ve lost their job too and have some distance, note that they simply didn’t know, or even if they did know that they shut that out of the equation simply so that they could do their job.
But when I hear these stories, I don’t shrink away in horror, I want to offer sympathy. Because in the end they, and we, are just part of the system. When I was working in the credit card centre, and call centres in general in fact, I was very conscious of being part of the machine. I’d say it to myself whenever I had a bad call as a way of remembering that whatever the person on the other end of the line said wasn’t personal and that indeed they were as much part of the machine as I was, that other pressures, professional or personal, will have led them to having that attitude. It’s all wheels within wheels, and even those of use who think we’ve dropped out of society, are working against the system, are probably part of the system ourselves, a kind of fail safe in case the mechanism slips out of control.