Sunday, June 19, 2011

Control Freak

Live is not like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise. All of the buttons levers and knobs needed to steer through the array of adventures and challenges that crop up with seemingly endless regularity are not displayed in a orderly fashion on a large desk. It is also worth noting that it is often the knobs that take control of the buttons and levers.

Humans are always wanting control.

Relationships it is said is about equal partnership. Lies. We all know it is about who is wearing the metaphoric pants. Who makes the decisions about chores, décor, television channels, meals, friendship priorities, sexual positions? It is always the person who is in control. Occasionally the other person will get to make a decision but only because the person in control has let them.

Why are single people are looking for relationships? Companionship, possibly; sexual release maybe; control definitely. Wether they are looking to control the other or to be controlled. BDSM is taking this to its extreme and if that is your preference, then good luck to you, just remember your safety word!

Work is the same, albeit the language changes. In the corporate world organisational consultants will use language like about autonomy, leadership and motivation…they mean control.

Regardless of where someone’s position sits within the organisational hierarchy everyone wants control. Even if a person does not have any control about which tasks they have to do and sometimes there is also no choice on when the tasks must be completed. People do want the chance to add their personal flare to the task. Like an artist who signs their completed canvas everyone wants their work to be immediately recognisable as their own. A good boss will allow her or her staff to add their signature – real or otherwise – to their work. Sanctioned or not signatures will be added.

Welcome to the world of sabotage. We have seen the clips of fastfood staff bathing in the kitchen sinks, recently the former manager of Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen was jailed for flambéing the building. American postal workers are famous for their murderous shooting sprees. It is all about control.

When architecture moved from discreet offices to open plan working areas the amount of personal decorations, photographs and gadgets on peoples desks increased. Control of space.

In primary school we would use out rulers to push neighbour’s pencils back when they strayed “onto our side”. In the Brady Bunch the boys divided their room in half using tape on the floor awkwardly leaving Greg no access to the door to the room and Bobby and Peter with no access to the bathroom. Thankfully no-one uses the bathroom in a G-rated American sitcom.

Family is another control battle ground. Psychologists will hypothesise ad-nauseum about sibling rivalry labelling each position within the family; oldest child syndrome, middle child syndrome, youngest child syndrome. Surely we can all relax now knowing that each position has issues, and it is always about control. Control of space, toys, past times, fashion and parental affection. And what better way to exert your dominance but to fart in your siblings face.

In the animal kingdom biologists will discuss pecking order and being the dominant or alpha member of the group. Again, control. In this instance the control is about territory, food and sex. The territory is of course defined as the area of land in which the dominant animal controls the access to food and sex.

Food and sex, the two things we need to control sustaining life. Food sustains us in the now and sex (procreation) sustains us for the future. In the modern world food is not limited to what one can hunt or gather but rather what we can purchase which is why control at work is so important: work = income = food. Sex, its frequency, style and choice of partner, at least in its base level of attraction, is often determined by superficial elements such as fashion and possessions. Therefore work = income = sex. If you can combine the food and the sex then you are in ultimate control. As George Costanza in Seinfeld said “the kitchen is the most sensual room in the house.”

Control is about choice. So if you do not like the food and sex in you life make a choice. Take action. The choice might be to change jobs, to change partners, to change diet or exercise. The choice might be to simply wake up 10minutes earlier.

Only an idiot does the same thing the same way but expects different results.

Oh and the bridge on the Enterprise was fake, the buttons, levels and knobs did not really control anything. The crew only survived each adventure by getting off their arse and taking action. It’s a choice.

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