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The death of the programmer, and two types of cognitive cages


A while ago, the "Zhongsheng 42-year-old programmer fell from the building" caused some thoughts. This story is quite grotesque from the perspective of simple narrative: Why does an ordinary person who seems to be steady and hard working will fall into such a situation?

Apart from the external factors such as the way the company handles it, everyone can also see that the deceased itself has problems in self-development and consumption decision-making, such as the ability to iterate in time and lead to complete loss of choice opportunities, such as excessive debt, Make your ability to resist risks extremely fragile.

But what is the origin of these problems? Is this person not smart enough? Or is this person too greedy?

I don't think so.

Based on the exploration of this problem, combined with some recent thinking, I found that the reason lies in the two types of "cognitive cages" that the current social system imposes on ordinary people. The environment and the media interpret the way the world works in a misleading way, replacing human independent thinking. And all of us, perhaps more or less, live in such cognitive cages.

These two types of "cognitive cages" are "alienation" and "consumerism" .

The first type of cognitive cage

In the current mainstream values, there is a strong binding relationship between work and self-realization. Yes, people should achieve self-realization through labor, and work is the most direct form of labor. This sentence is completely established under ideal conditions.

However, under the capitalist-based "company" system, such values ​​are easily exploited, leading to an ending that runs counter to humanism: people are alienated into tools.

There are such companies that often use corporate culture and various management tools to enable ordinary workers to invest almost all of their cognitive, time, and energy resources into a very subdivided position or field (so-called screws). And create a peer pressure on the figurative level to let the workers take the initiative to continue this state. At the same time, the values ​​described above have been used as "politically correct" tools throughout the system, making people's aversion to this state a symbol of laziness and unthinking.

The above description does not mean that "high-intensity work" is evil, and it is not against struggle and against overtime. What is truly evil is that high-intensity work occupies almost all cognitive resources of human beings, and consciously misleads people so that they can burn the remaining surplus value to the greatest extent possible, ignoring human growth and development. Those who accept this misleading enter the first category of cognitive cages.

How to judge yourself in this cognitive cage? Be careful if you find yourself in the following state:

  • The level of value provided by the work is low , and it is not possible to gain visibility and awareness from the work, and will maintain this state for a long time, for example:
    • The vision, value and business logic of the cause cannot be understood at work;
    • Little contact with other people at work, or unable to become a connection node for various resources;
    • The work results are highly substitutable and have a small range of influence;
    • The work content is basically a repetitive operation;
  • The career area is too narrow and lacks growth , such as:
    • The ceiling is very low, there is almost no difference in the value of achieving 100 points and 60 points;
    • Occupation is only needed in a very subdivided field and cannot be extended to more general areas;
    • Occupational needs are entirely dependent on seasonal hotspots (some professions may be very popular in this current hot spot, but the next wave may not be of value at all);
  • On the basis of the first two, this work consumes almost all of its cognitive resources , so that it has no energy and time to learn, play, think and other activities;
  • Can clearly feel the decline in physical function due to work (including obesity, sleep problems, depression, etc.).

If you are in this cage and don't know it, you are likely to dedicate 100% of your energy and time to a career that is not your own. Instead, you will only gain a small amount of cognitive accumulation and personal growth. For this situation, there is a very vulgar but appropriate description: "Struggle."

This situation is hard to see in a short period of time in the past, because the rise and fall cycle of traditional industries tends to be longer. But now, the rise and fall cycle of emerging industries has accelerated dramatically. With the example of “mobile internet”, it has been a relatively stable pattern from 2011 to 2015. It took only five years, and after that, there will be a series of squeezes. The process of foaming. And for each wave of these ups and downs, the ability map of the core talents it needs must be different. In this case, the above-mentioned alienated, single-function person is the lowest value and will be the object of the first batch of elimination. The so-called "The rabbit is dead, the dog is cooking."

And it also means a horrible fact: for people in certain industries (such as myself), their life will inevitably experience the life cycle of one or more industries, and in the process to fully experience its rise and fall process .

In the process of the rise of the industry, most of the profits will inevitably be attributed to capital, and individuals (especially the most basic workers) can only eat the residue. So in this big process, capital (as a whole) must be profitable, and the fate of the individual is not so predictable.

Although most industries have a life cycle and a day of decline, they can catch up with a wave of rapid development opportunities in an industry. In fact, for individuals, they can also gain a lot of original accumulation. We take this resource to improve our ability to resist risks, broaden our horizons, and make some prudent investments. Can we do a good job?

At this time, the system throws a second type of cognitive cage: consumerism.

The second type of cognitive cage

Consumerism can be described as an absolute mainstream value today. It encourages people to enjoy material enjoyment through consumption, improve their quality of life, and then gain inner affluence and the value of life. This is a neutral word.

Consumerism connects people's desires, discovers new experiences, stimulates more people to inspire creativity and create value, and supports the basic needs of N fields such as aesthetics, design and marketing. It is the driving force for human beings to upgrade their own experiences. . Its bright side is called "internal demand."

But the power of consumerism is not only reflected in the material life, but also in the cultural level. When consumerism is strongly bound to the needs of individual “self-realization” and strongly tied to the maintenance of its social relationships, consumerism will become the second category of “cognitive cages”: abducted through the spirit of culture and even morality. The means of squeezing people, not the tools that lead to prosperity.

What consumer behaviors are strongly bound to the individual at the cultural level? For ordinary people, from a small level, it can be a mobile phone; on a big level, nothing more than a real estate. We can find that in addition to giving people a real material enjoyment, they can often bring social recognition and even become a necessity for social relations (such as certain marriages).

This demand is so strong, and today's media is so advocating for "quality of life" that few people can resist such cognitive bombing, so that when they are under slightly optimistic conditions, they are often preferred. Consumption of the category, and most likely will increase leverage and liabilities in the process.

From a macro perspective, the essence of capital operation is: giving a salary of one dollar, creating the value of three dollars, and selling it to him through the price of five dollars. The contradiction here is that people's needs and incomes are often not equal, and consumer desires can never be fully satisfied. Under the bombardment of various media and marketing tools, people have basically become slaves to consumerism.

What's even more frightening is that the superposition of this "plus of desire" and "shortening of the industry's life cycle" will make people enter a terrible state:

  • There is no room for growth in the income caused by the shrinking of the business, and the reduction in the choice of face leads to the vulnerability of the anti-risk ability, but the existing liabilities have to be repaid, and the new desire for consumption continues to emerge;
  • Consumerism connects the meaning of life and self-realization, and abandoning consumption means acknowledging one's own failure;
  • If the above two can be solved through the "Buddha", then for middle-aged people, there is a factor that is often unavoidable, that is, "plus the responsibility", that is, the life of the previous generation and the next generation - Even the survival - the support.

This is the so-called middle-aged crisis. (Is ironically, I am a 26-year-old who thinks about it in the bed late at night)

Cognitive captivity

On the one hand, "alienation" crushes people's productivity, while suppressing people's own development, people lose their creativity, which is equivalent to sucking up your blood in a short period of time, and letting you lose value in a longer period.

On the other hand, "consumerism" controls the standard of human values ​​for life, further extracts people's income, and through cultural pressure, people lose their choice in fact (unless they choose Buddhism, they return to the mountains).

The combination of the two, I call it "cognitive captivity . " The reason for the analogy of captivity is that in such a cognitive system, people are no different from livestock: they only provide the necessary survival information, continuously export labor, and the ultimate goal of living is to be slaughtered.

Based on this framework, we can outline the life cycle of a tragedy in a cognitive captivity:

However, there are very few people who are fortunate enough to enjoy the "glory" at the beginning of this life cycle...

How to break the game?

Obviously, to avoid such a fate, you must first rescue yourself from the cognitive cage and dominate the actual behavior based on your own thinking and prejudging (rather than external cultural pressure).

I have a few preliminary ideas:

  • 趁 When you have bargaining power, take the initiative to choose the environment, try to find an environment that focuses on personal growth, and stay away from those corporate cultures that use brainless struggle as a cultural pressure, actually crushing and alienating employees. According to one's incomplete observation, a company that is personally friendly is usually characterized by several characteristics:
    • An open and welcoming attitude towards employees' curiosity in areas other than positions;
    • Pay attention to the employee competency matrix and actively avoid applying high repetitive, long-term and low-level work content;
    • It does not require employees to unconditionally use 100% of their cognitive resources at any time to perform the work at hand (without critical moments, full-hearted involvement with necessity);
    • Identify or explore the path of personal career growth with employees;
  • Consciously release cognitive resources, free up time and energy to think about bigger problems, explore more possibilities, find their own advantages and directions, outline the cognitive systems that belong to individuals, and diversify the way of value output;
  • Understand and try high-value activities as early as possible, such as management, such as becoming a resource route, such as an investment;
  • Be wary of excessive brainwashing by consumerism, think about the lifestyle that suits you best (the process of trying to avoid the process), choose the partner with the best value, and find your own strength, or inner peace;
  • For career planning, friends who want to do time. If there is no survival problem in the short term, then try to choose those “monotonically increasing functions”, that is, the value of professional value will continue to improve with the precipitation of experience and the ability to improve; unless you have capital, try not to participate in those The industry that is fast and fast is, after all, the people who make quick money are a minority, and most of them have become the tears of the times. But to do this, we must first solve the problem of "inner peace."

I hope that everyone will escape the fate of being slaughtered as much as possible. If you don't have the energy to change the system, change yourself as much as possible and jump out of the loop set by the system. Because we can't stay at the age of 25 forever.