The life and times of Tragicomix.

Monday, May 23, 2005

the idiocratic invasion :part 1: working in an MNC

MM Lee wrote a book proclaiming Singapore was in the first world..

to me, the definition of a first world country comes down to individual happiness in daily life..the greater good, the bigger purpose, all boiled down in the end to individual satisfaction with ones life..i am going to look at all the different aspects of my life in Singapore..and evaluate my general situation..

maybe this will even help me decide whether i should stay on after my bond..

Part 1:

Working in a large multinational corporation drains me.

I saw "In good company" recently, and somehow it moved me..It was a typical feel good, slow down on your career, family is good, standard hollywood tripe.. but what i liked was one scene in which Dennis Quaid says "It all seems very arbitrary" ... we keep hearing all this talk of Globalization, and as Tom Friedman says, "We all live in a flat world, with equal opportunity"
I wonder how many of us really understand the implications of this global phenomena.. By the time global capitalization trickles down to a little quisling like me in the system..it does all seem pretty arbitrary..companies change hands in days, and this affects lives of ordinary white collar workers..in ways they simply cannot control...don't get me wrong, i am no communist denouncing capitalism..
i firmly believe large corporations and competition act as agents of economic efficiency...
But surely there is more to life than economic efficiency..

In a globalized world, there is less and less job security, less and less comfort zones..and it is true we need to adjust to all this constant change..but we need to have some sort of anchors to help deal with all this change..be it family, hobbies, passions etc..

my friend complained that he just felt "isolated" working in a large coroporation..and i could empathize with that..here i am working with people from australia, india, china, japan, europe and america..(let alone bengalis and punjabis, frenchmen from paris and frenchmen from corsica!) ..i don't know the 90,000 odd people in my company..i don't even know the people who work all the floors in my building well..

humans have a fundamental societal needs to "belong" somehwere..and not getting a feeling of belonging in a workplace..is a very dislocating feeling..i dont feel fixed, or purposeful..i feel like i am drifting along listlessly, with very little idea of what i am achieving.. my individual contribution is meaningless, but collectively we move mountains..
My company keeps talking of work life balance..frankly, nobody in my company takes it seriously..at least in Asia..because, all said and done..we value the rice bowl above all else..and we would do anything before jeopordazing that... and i think that is the worst part of not being in a first world country..not the lack of opportunity, or the lack of material comforts, but the lack of mental comfort, a lack of understanding that the bottom line is not really the bottom line...not in our individual lives..

and that is when singapore can truly say it lives in the first world..

2 Comments:

Anonymous Naveen said...

Is it Social Security then?

5:26 PM

 
Blogger nmk said...

Think about it. If you say that a sense of belonging and a sense of balance and purpose is what defines the first world, then there is no first world.

Work life balance is corporate wishwash (like corporate social responsibility or corporate art collections or corporate philanthrophy).

Japan is a first world country but they value the rice bowl too. Heck america is a first world country but they work like dogs too. The only place where there is any work life balance is in europe but the price they pay is phenomenal. Is it worth that much?

3:44 PM

 

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