Gaslight Capitalism

I’m coining a term today. Gaslight Capitalism.

We have gone so far beyond merely “consumer capitalism” and steadily into a bizzarre mutant economy that relies on trying not only to convince people to pay more for less and worse but also that less and worse is actually better and more and you should pay more for it.

Its beyond sizeflation where they pump air into potato chip bags to make them look bigger in oreder to rationalize charging more when they actually weigh less.
Its beyond engineered obsolescence where technology CAN make car engines that run well over 500,000 miles since the 1970s but instead manufacturers choose to make inferior engines, or even to the point of making increasingly dangerous and life threatenjng engineering descisions to save a few bucks.

Its even beyond making customer service only available through a chat bot or an answer service that makes you spend 10x the amount of time finding answers to only basic and simple questions only to find out its impossible to actually get an answer to your specific issue.

Where we are now is a corporate Gaslighting culture all the way from shareholders to customer service.

I have a bit of seasonal work at a tech company that is a household name everyone in the usa has heard. This company has been going all in with SAAS (Software as a service). These new online offerings are more “dumbed down”. They only allow narrow work / task paths and if you have a problem there isnt a work around - it just doesnt work. For example, when prompted to upload a file, it either finds it on your computer or it doesnt. They have stripped out the option “browse” that we used to use to find it ourselves. That is just 1 of 10 or more examples I have found in the past few months where the newer program has had solutions stripped out of it. Further, support is being withdrawn for the older download versions of progams that work. While support is offered for the saas, there is often no solution technically possible outside of writing a new program.

Then the gasliighting part begins. The corporation has decided that it will offer bonuses to employees to provide a motivation to employee performance. This bonus is modified by customer surveys. This all makes sense up to this point but then one item in the survey is “would you recommend the corporation”. Remember the corporation made it impossible to do satisfactory workarounds as a business descision and when the customer is understanably outraged, they decide no they will not recommend the company and as a consequence the employees pay is reduced.

Thats the first level of gaslighting. At the second level, supervisors have to maintain a 90% evaluation ranking, so they push customer support to find ways to convince the customer that solutions were found when they were not. For example “print it out and fill it in by hand” is considered a “solution” and the employee is told to tell customers they gave them a “solution”. If the customer wants a refund, a link is provided and in a few weeks the customer will find out if it is approved and this is a “solution”. If refused, well the cc can no longer be refunded after such a long time and anoyher link is provided for a paper check refund. This also is a “solution”.

So the data the company is processing internally shows customer service handling all these call and providing all these solutions and anyone along the chain who isnt working towards gaslighting the customer and the stockholders effectively gets weeded out with less pay and no promotion options.

My experience tells me this is common in a wide sectors of society because I encounter it so often as a customer with most large corporations.

I do not see AI as a solution but instead will just make the situation worse. I know this because currently an AI listens to every conversation I have with customers and types up a summary. I see “customer was provided with solution a, b, and c” while I know these were not real solutions but was actually a gaslight. Humans know this when interacting with each other in ways AI will never be able to pick up and even if AI could, it would be reprogrammed because nobody in the corporate chain wants an honest AI that would say “Corporation had no solution and wasted an hour of the customers time to give them some bs they could have done without buying the product”

With corporations being the foundation that modern society is building itself upon, I can only see this crashing down and taking civilization with it as more and more people just get more and more irate.
I am actually seeing some time in the future a luddite uprising inevitable as AI is used to make capitalism more and more a complete sham the more technology progresses. It will eventually reach an untenable breaking point.


Any competition for this outfit? Personally, when the “service” starts to suck, I start shopping for alternatives.

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Yes and no.
In product line 1 it is the only real name out there
Product line 2 there is a major competitor focused on face to face service and trying to break into diy. There are also thousands of small competitors offering face to face service.

My point would be that this is a systemic issue. All major corporations make money gaslighting customers and employees to some degree and this trend is accelerating.

In education this is commonplace as well for the past 40 years just with sophisticated names and funding for selected research. Teachers mostly are gaslighted into working under sub par conditions for sub par salaries and told to teach according to the educational theory that is politically popular (whether liberal or conservative). Research is selectively chosen only whan it supports the political and research is ignored when its conclusions are inconvenient.

Go to a competitor? Lets take automobiles. How do i get a car that is under 15k with no frills? No electric backup sensors. No silly rear cam for a sedan, just a plain old A to B car that runs and with a price tag of less than 6 months salary for an average working professional. These more affordable and more reliable cars are made but never sold in the USA.

I can go through every industry. The trend across all industries is to charge more for less and tell the customer its better when it isnt. Then as an employee to be paid less relative to cost of living under worse conditions in company cultures based on universal gaslighting being the standard across the board to get advancement.

Correct. CNBC did a report the other day on how Chinese automakers are growing market share all over the world with their much more affordable offerings.

If companies can cut quality, ship less, jack prices, and layoff employees, there is certainly a financial incentive to do that. But there is also an incentive for anyone to do better and outcompete. These things historically have gone in cycles.

Greece, Rome, the Portuguese, the British Empire, The Soviet Union and thousands of others all had their own economic systems with different life cycles. This time it will be a planet-wide economic cycle ending because of the complex dependencies of the global supply chain from food to Iphones.

I would prefer not to begin the next cycle with the death of this current one while I am in it. Even though I am more prepared for it than 99.99% of the population.

Ah yes, I wanted to keep the post within a managable topic and didnt address how I navigate this in my personal life nor a pathway for others to follow to find a way out.

It may seem to some that Im just raging about something without any way forward. Ive found it for myself and Im still working on how to present it.

Right now if I was to write the book, the title would be “Sabotage: How to live a fuller more meaningful life and F*k the system”.

Gaslight Capitalism would be chapter 2 or 3 of part 1 - laying out part of the “Why” or “we are here”. Part 2 would be what to do or where we want to be.

But I think Gaslight capitalism is such a succinct and accurate term Id like to see it popularized.

It still needs some pondering.

Lately I’ve considering the idea of “hacking” as a total lifestyle. The general idea of hacking is working larger systems to get what you want out of them. Large institutions (includes business, government, others) generally don’t care much about any of us individually. But it seems to me that systems as such don’t cover the entire possibility space and one can live authentically in and around them.

I really appreciate the term “gaslight capitalism,” a sort of hidden religion, it seems to me, promoted by the powers that be and is so ubiquitous that we don’t even know we believe it. Where did I come across this term: “faucet brainwash”? You’re right, it’s everywhere but don’t get me started on gaslight medicine and gaslight freedom.

Imagine though that the snake oil was approved be the government and it is illegal to recommend common sense instead and if you say anything nagative about the snake oil or its salesmen they can claim damages against you.

Actually its not that difficult to imagine because it happens every day in every industry.

Its not that snake oil salesmen exist, its that it has become the basis of our economic system.

I would say that 99.99% of the population are rubes. You might get 1 in 10,000 people who see what is happening. But we face constant gaslighting by the 10, 000 who, for example, thought and strongly opined throughout the 1980s and 1990s that margarine is healthy while butter is dangerous. Thre are thousands of similar examples in food options alone.

This is horrific. It’s a culture of loyalty beginning i got scared of when i saw a loyalty campaign at a main UK supermarket peteol station being scathing of disloyalty as a trait including not being loyal to them i.e. not shopping only at their store. It’s a worry this is pushed on workers at a main US company, and I’m sorry you have to deal with this in your work.

I wish this to happen with current capitalism if a soft landing isnt possible, because a hard break is better than what we’re heading towards without a change.

This reminds me of many years ago when I worked as a temp worker in the main office of a regional supermarket chain. In order to keep something from spilling into the rest of my bag, I had it wrapped in the plastic bags of a competing supermarket chain and lots of employees took offense, lol.