TOmazon has recently launched its Working fine program, with services designed to improve the mental, physical and spiritual well-being of its employees and workers. It is important to distinguish between employees and workers, since Amazon It depends largely on contract and temporary workers, who can be fired at any time and who do not have to offer benefits such as health insurance. But who needs medical attention when you can walk into an AmaZen “conscious practice room” – one of the many “coffin-sized booths,” in Vice’s words, that Amazon plans to introduce into its warehouses? There you can see a video of a baby deer leaping through a field or whatever while trying to avoid intrusive thoughts about, say, its upcoming eviction.
Mindfulness training is gaining popularity in corporate culture. A watered-down hodgepodge of “Eastern religious practices” and motivational speaker talk, mindfulness training promises to teach its practitioners serenity, reduce their anxiety and stress, and make them more open to change; It even claims to impart physical benefits like lowering blood pressure. There are comprehensive videos, apps, books, and TV shows to guide you through this process of clearing your mind of all negative thoughts and acting with more intention and presence.
Sounds compassionate, right? Don’t you want, when you’re struggling, someone in charge to realize what a difficult time you are going through and work to make you feel safe and calm again? But let’s not kid ourselves: these are large corporations that force their workers to adapt to the terrible working conditions that they have intentionally imposed, things like 10 hour working days and workers who pay almost half than they would have been paid in a similar job decades ago, and could remedy, if corporations wanted, in an instant.
Although they claim to be designed around concern for the “health” and “well-being” of their employees, the true goal of programs like these is always profit: to increase productivity and squeeze every last drop of possible work out of your workers. . That’s why corporations like Google, Apple, and Harvard spend a lot of money on “mindfulness consultants” to train their workers not to be distracted by personal problems while on the job. They promise workers to reduce stress, but consultants promise employers that they can reduce accidents, increase productivity and decrease sick days. These consultants can charge thousands of dollars an hour, but it is still cheaper than paying all of your workers a living wage.
For decades, the media has talked about mental health and doctors have treated it as a personal problem, but almost never a structural one. If you are depressed, it is surely your “brain chemistry” and not the suffocating fear of mounting debt that is keeping you from sleeping. This leads to treatment options like medications (if your insurance pays for them), therapy (ha ha, your insurance definitely won’t pay for it) and now things like “mindfulness” which has the added bonus for the government, the medical community. and your employers to be free once you have learned the techniques. Just close your eyes, breathe through the growing sense of dread, and get back to work.
But it turns out that some of the biggest contributors to mental health distress are things like financial precariousness and home insecurity. Financial difficulties remain one of the biggest contributing factors suicide attempts and rates rise as the economy falls. If Amazon really cared about the mental health of its employees, it would take some of the obscene wealth its executives made during the pandemic and funnel it down. Maybe it will help stabilize the lives of your employees and you won’t have to provide them with a little space to hide your panic attack.
If anyone really needs a serenity box, it’s whoever is running Amazon’s social media accounts. After bad press around the time he was trying to fend off a union campaign at one of his warehouses, Amazon’s ad agents spent a week harassing politicians, journalists and little ole me, for daring to believe and transmit objective information about what it is like to work for your company. The effort failed. His insistence that Amazon was a great place to work only attracted more media attention and research that showed that, in fact, it’s not.
As detailed in Ronald Purser McMindfulness’s book: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality, the US military has adopted mindfulness training to clear the minds of soldiers and deter them from questioning orders and undertakings. to quell the dissent of the exploited workers. Mindfulness reinforces the idea that the problem is your response to stimuli and that the circumstances of your life are beyond your control, so it is best to focus on dealing with them. For a company like Amazon, which has responded to efforts to improve the working conditions of its warehouse workers and delivery people with aggressive strategies to end unionsGuiding your workers toward believing that the problem is their anxiety rather than their exploitation is going to be quite helpful.
It is painful to walk all day with a vague feeling of “I hate this, this is terrible” building in your brain and burning in your chest. But it is even worse to live in material conditions that you hate and are terrible. If it helps, remember: no one says you have to go into that capsule to whisper to yourself “it’s okay.” You can whisper whatever you want. In fact, you can always shut yourself in and mutter “bonding, bonding” through clenched teeth. Let the healing begin.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism