Call Center Purgatory <$BlogRSDURL$>
Call Center Purgatory
Monday, May 15, 2006
  The Joy of Alienation

Click the link to read a series of posts I wrote about alienation. We always think of it as bad thing, which it is, but there is another side to it. First, some definitions:

Merriam Webster
Google Web Definitions

If I were to give my own definition of alienation, I would say something like:

Alienation: The state of being separated or excluded from the dominant group, or society in general. This state can results in feelings of isolation, guilt, or depression. Many times it is a result of not fulfilling, or rejecting the societal demands of the dominant group,
(i.e. socialization).
Feelings of alienation lead people to not only believe that they are separated from the world around them, but it makes them believe they are intrinsically different from everyone else around them. Of course, many alienated people feel like they are losers, just don't fit in,don't measure up, etc. etc.

What about the other side? I believe alienated people also start to develop the belief that they are better than the world that rejects them. "The whole world is nuts-I'm the only sane one!" is a natural thought of alienated people.

Actually, our mind will probably pick one of these two responses to feeling alienation. It either decides that society is right, and that they are failures that need to submit to society's demands in order to be accepted, or the mind decides that everyone around them is wrong, and they are the only sane one in a world gone mad.

In my own case, I have felt both of these feelings. I've felt guilty I could not be as successful as the other call center superstars. I've wished I could have received the performance plaques, and went to the pizza parties put on for the top performers. On the other hand, I have considered that I am the one who is right and they are wrong. I have seen what my call center society refuses to see: how running a business by queue times and average call length alone makes for unhappy customers. I have seen how treating people and employees well is more important than all the profits in the world. I'm sure that there are other people in my company that feel this way, it's just not something you discuss during working hours.

My point is that I am beginning the think that alienation is good for society. It is part of the evolution of a society. Without people who are on the outside of the dominant group, looking in and seeing what is wrong with that group, there is not a chance for positive change. It can be argued that alienation is almost like Darwin's theory of adaptation. Society tends toward methods and beliefs that are self-defeating and cannot always reproduce themselves forever. More clearly, the dominant ideas are like inbreeding. "We've always done it this way. There is no other way. Any change must be wrong." is the sort of thing that results when everyone is accepted and obeys the dominant paradigm.

Without people on the outside doing things differently, how will society change? Jesus Christ was alienated from the dominant religious group, but he made a great change to society. How many other people that were isolated from the dominant group eventually changed that group? People like Martin Luther, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, I could go on and on, but I think you can see my point.

Alienation feels horrible at the time. So often It results in loneliness, isolation, depression and hopelessness. I know, I've felt that way before, but it doesn't have to end as a bad thing. It is possible for alienation to be the catalyst to a better world. I guess the outcome is up to the individual.

Thanks for reading,

Anonymous Cog

Of all the times that I searched for call center sites and blogs, I never found any...this site is awesome and you speak many truths...we are definitely cut from the same cloth...
Glad you like it. Thanks for commenting. Looks like you have a site like mine. Let me know more and I can get you a link.

I've always looked at monastacism as a form of alienation that can be both positive and healthy. Deitrich Bonhoeffer argued that it was European monks, alienated and isolated from the world, who preserved Truth through the silliness of the Dark Ages. I agree, that alienation can lead to depression, lonliness - but it can also strip away shallowness and bring life into a clearer focus.

Thanks for posting, AC.
Thanks Tom. I often wondered why it was that monks saved all sorts of literature, even things that weren't particularly Christian, at least in a Roman Catholic tradition. I guess they appreciated knowledge in general, even if it was contrary to their own beliefs, or maybe that isolation from the world changed what they saw as real Christianity, and included things that questioned the status quo.

Thanks for stopping by.
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Exploring the mind numbing insanity and childish corporate culture of an unknown call center employee.

Purgatory: A place of suffering and torment with an unknown duration. In Roman Catholic Theology-the place where the dead are purified from their sins.

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"One must know oneself, if this does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life, and there is nothing better." -Blaise Pascal

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