As we all know, the moment you step inside your place of employment, you are subject to the whims of your employer. For the most part, your employer has created ‘best practices’ to help you move through the morass of your workday as fluidly as you can. For the most part.
But there is something insidious happening in businesses all over the world – spying. Your employer is watching over your shoulder every minute of the day, logging your keystrokes, listening intently to your phone conversations, making sure you follow their rules. Isn’t that outrageous?! Whatever happened to freedom? It’s like some type of terrible dystopia! I think there was a book about that type of workplace, but I can’t remember the name of it. I think it was written in the ‘80s, though, around 1984?
Well, before you go running for the tinfoil to fashion yourself a makeshift Hat of Disruption, I just thought I’d put you at ease by letting you know that spying on employees isn’t a new concept. In fact, it’s been going on for hundreds of years. Let me just throw out some choice examples:
• Noted looneybird and filthy-rich heiress Sarah Winchester had a house built continuously for 38 years and employed upwards of thirty people to help run her house. She spent much of her time in a séance room, which conveniently overlooked the kitchen, where any gossip whispered by the help could easily be heard.
• Auto magnate Henry Ford created the Sociological Department in Ford Motors with the specific aim of spying on workers.
• Harry Cohn, founder of Columbia Pictures, had all of the sets bugged in the hopes of overhearing actors, directors, and stagehands talking about their Communist ties or just saying unpleasant things about him, at which point he would interrupt conversations over the set loudspeakers to personally berate the offending parties.
• J. Edgar Hoover had a file on everyone. Everyone. But fortunately, he only used that illegally gained knowledge to tarnish the reputations and ruin the careers of a few thousand actors, politicians, and otherwise completely inoffensive civilians.
And those are just from the first half of the 20th century. I didn’t even touch the technological advances in the last half of the century that allow your employers to keep tabs on you now. Feeling itchy, my paranoid friends?
Well, turn the tables! There’s nothing more fun than paying your paranoia forward for your coworkers to enjoy. Here are some ideas:
• For those of you who work in a cubicle, install a periscope so you can keep an eye out at all times
• Root through your peers’ trash – preferably while they’re watching
• Purchase a sound amplifier and point it at your boss conspicuously when he or she enters his or her office
The possibilities are endless, and endlessly amusing. So get to work, my furtive friends! Because I’ll know if you don’t. I’m watching you. I’m always watching…