temper your schadenfreude
The tech world is going through some massive layoffs of late, with Mark Zuckerberg laying off 11,000 of his now 87,000 employees (that’s 13% of their workforce, mind you). In a vacuum, I might be tempted to celebrate such news. After all, I despise Facebook and completely abstain from using its apps. I see Facebook and its social media cousins as a net negative for society, one that I hope disappears.
But we don’t live in a vacuum. Three of my close friends work at Meta. And even if they aren’t personally affected by it, the news of the impending layoffs has weighed on their shoulders. And they all know people less fortunate. Making up these statistics are real people, people with lives and hopes and aspirations and families to feed. People who are now cast out into a tech job market plagued with redundancies and companies trying to cut costs.
Thinking about how to write about this reminds me of something Annie Dillard wrote.
Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?
What can I possibly write that won’t enrage by its triviality? In the backdrop of losing your livelihood (and maybe your dear work friends, dream job, and more), just about everything else seems so insignificant.
I for one am apoplectic when I read about Elon unapologetically laying off half of Twitter’s workers and indifferently tweeting about literal shit amidst the firestorm. To make matters worse, he then promptly asked some of them to please come back, a testament to how much thought he put into his decision. It’s deeply depressing how little he cares, and while I too want to join the hordes anxiously anticipating his downfall, I wish it didn’t take so many innocent people’s lives as collateral.
We’re going through tough times that are about to get tougher. Call your friends and ask them how they’re really doing, and if they do tell you, drop everything you’re doing and listen. And always, always be kind to strangers.
P.S. Please get out there and vote in your runoffs if you have them! The elections aren’t over just yet.