opinion

The Quietness That Kills

Tom Hymes
There is a silence within the industry, like a black hole in the middle of it. Offices are quiet. Production sets are quiet. Boards are quiet. Trade events are quiet. Not completely silent, but quiet. It’s a strange quiet for such a voluble age and industry, but it couldn’t be louder. This must happen in any time, whenever the shit hits the fan and the good times grind to a halt and the looming maw of a depression bares its fangs. It feels like the silence of despair and resignation, and the dread that comes from realizing you really are fuel for the matrix. It’s the silence people always project after they’ve lost their job, or fired someone, and the literal silence of a lot of people who simply are no longer there.

But the worst silence of all, the killer quiet, is the silence within, within an industry, a company, a family and especially within an individual. Not the silence of meditation and creative thought but the other clenched silence that can kills in the middle of a step.

It’s the end of a month and the beginning of another, the first month of the rest of our lives, and I really don’t have the time, energy or space to document the extent of the pain currently being felt in adult. (Besides, you know if you or your company is hurting, or at least you should!) But a warning is needed.

I know that people have been reaching out for help on a personal level, which is a really great thing and should be encouraged, but I think more probably needs to be done on a company and industry-wide level. Companies that have seen layoffs need to manage their staffs in the aftermath of those layoffs, and encourage open communication and, yes, even the cathartic sharing of feelings. Most companies in adult don't have real HR departments, and a lot are virtual with people scattered around the globe, but that doesn't mean that things can’t be done to assuage any fears and uncertainty within the staff. Surely, even adult managers know that a secure worker is a productive worker.

If you work for an employer who thinks human resources refers to a cattle call, or you are an independent contractor, a performer or freelance writer with no real work entity from which to get any solace in hard times, you should find a support group if you do not already have one. They could be anything as long as they are comprised of people who care about you and are willing to listen.

As an industry, we need to find a way to, first, admit what is going on, even if it means our dicks look a little smaller, and then the courage to act like a caring, cohesive industry. I don’t mean to be a prick about it, I really don’t, and I know this is a general complaint and that there are companies out there that are sacrificing in order to keep people employed, but a little more effort would go a very long way.

In addition to sponsoring support groups, or a job fair maybe, or even just encouraging the use of public social services, speaking up more often would in itself help immeasurably, even just to acknowledge that we, as a company, as an owner, as a peer and as an industry, care about the people who make up the business and are responsible for its profits and notoriety; something, anything, to help fill in the insufferable quiet of the times.

Photo: "Hunger to be Heard" - Jarra McGrath 2004

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