Living with dichotomies is nothing new — we’re all stuffing contradictory ideas into our heads just to get through another fucking day, but this plague has really brought the borders of those ideas into stark relief.
I’m not a fan of capitalism. I’m not lugging around a dog-eared copy of Marx and espousing the perfection of the Communist Manifesto, but I’m not too blind to see that the current system is an entire hot bag of bullshit.
But…I like buying stuff! I enjoy daydreams where I’ve somehow amassed a large enough fortune where I can literally retreat into a (well-stocked and comfortable and perfectly Instagrammable) cabin in the wilds of Wyoming or Montana or upstate Vermont. Those daydreams involve me doing something that no-one else can do, thus alleviating myself from the guilt of somehow not having earned my financial windfall (the fantasy never starts with a distant relative dying and leaving me a Scrooge McDuck vault of gold coins).
I make my living telling companies how to sell their products. Sometimes I tell myself that I’m participating in something I don’t believe in because I, like, need to. But then I look around at my apartment, and my stuff, and I realize that I want to more than I need to.
I saved a quote from Chuck Klosterman, from the book But What If We’re Wrong? — it’s about voting, but it applies to a lot:
“[I]f you don’t vote, you can’t complain.” Actually, the opposite is true—if you participate in democracy, you’re validating the democratic process (and therefore the outcome). You can’t complain if you vote.
By that logic, by participating in capitalism, I can’t complain about it. But fuck that. If I don’t vote, the worst that happens is that I get a little bit overserved one night during a Hinge date, I let slip that I didn’t vote, I get a glare from the Moderate Democrat that I’m trying to bed, and I go home alone to jerk off.
If I don’t participate in capitalism, I end up living in a yurt with a bunch of weird hippies who I don’t particularly like, but who are the only people that participate in communal living and barter systems.
Now, we’re all stuck in our homes, and the lucky ones are the ones who now need to blur the line between home and work even more than constant communication already has. It’s one thing to have to reach for your phone when a work email comes in after 6pm, or needing to post an Instagram Story on a Sunday afternoon because that’s part of your job description. It’s quite another to wake up, open your eyes, look across the room at what is now you'r office and realize that you’re already at work.
On the other hand — I was able to cook my own lunch today, and finish the dishes so that I don’t have a pile when I get home from the office. The stereo is under my control, so I can blast Ride the Lightning and Europe ‘72 at full volume while I code affiliate emails and append UTM parameters to transactional Shopify templates.
This sucks. But also it kinda rules.
(Mostly it sucks.)