The clock reads 12:13 P.M. and I have to make sure I’m conscious enough for my 1:00 conference call. I’ve already been up for seven hours and my eyes feel like wet concrete—the day only half over. (Chugs coffee and returns to page.) People across the globe have depressing stories of their morning commute, rigorous hours, or the seemingly endless workload that only ever gets bigger rather than dwindling. The “zombie” has become a vogue archetype of society and we’re seeing the influence of this science fiction phenomenon spread across numerous genres. The origins of the zombie and its relentless hunt for brains have immediate implications to every one of the Man’s pawns on this planet. A long-standing metaphor for mass-commercialization and consumerism this drooling haggard monster does not allude to some distant hypothetical consequence of society anymore—just look around.
When was the last time you felt truly rested? When was the last time you went to sleep without worrying about the tasks, projects, and everyday errands you might have to complete the next day? My guess would be a long time, most certainly longer than it has been for me. My brain is pummeled by never ending distractions that keep me up late into the night, so that the next morning I’m sluggish with fatigue. Sleep does not come easily to me anymore and feeling the crushing burden of what I have to do the next day does not help. So I lie awake, tossing and turning, rolling over to my 5 A.M. alarm knowing that the time has come to do the dance again.
Unlike the zombies of movies and popular culture, there is no blood dripping from my face and my morning doesn’t start with a hearty serving of brains. During the groggy, off-hours of my day my brain feels incapacitated and numbed by the Man; sometimes to the point that complete sentences and normal thought are impossible to maintain. The forty-mile drive to the office becomes a game of trying to stay awake before driving my car over the rumble strips that indent the margin of the thruway. What is truly puzzling to me is how a company can expect their employees to maintain a rigid work ethic of efficiency and effectiveness when they’re teetering on the edge of becoming brain-dead zombies? The rigors of life are increasingly strenuous and maintaining an equally stressful job does not afford many of us the luxury of adequate rest. Our brains are tired, over worked, and looking for an excuse to shut off. The working class is haunted by the routine that often destroys any indicators that one day was different from the rest. The routine makes everything seem okay—when it most certainly is not.
I’m in my very early twenties with the world ahead of me and I already feel as though my life force has been sucked out by way of the capitalist vacuum. I do not want to become “zombified” to the point I accept that exhaustion is a mere consequence of growing up. By raising the idea of the zombie we are given the opportunity to look deeper into the philosophical implications of having a job and lifelong effects a rigorous work schedule can have on our bodies and minds. We’ve all been told at one point to, “do what makes you happy,” but how many of those who are employed can whole-heartily say this holds true to their lives? Collecting industrial debts for a corporate giant is, in all honesty, soul-sucking work. It has diluted my ability to enjoy other things in life simply because the doldrums of my week drain me physically and mentally. Everywhere I look I see zombies, except these aren’t the ones Hollywood has warned us about. Many of us have relinquished ultimate control to the great capitalist machine and I’m wondering—can we ever get it back?