Backseat Driving

Posted on April 23, 2012 by


economy: the process or system by which goods and services are produced, sold, and bought in a country or region

 – Merriam-Webster English Dictionary

Should we be content just being cogs in a machine?

We’ve all heard about the economy: in the news, from our parents, from anyone who deals with money, really. “The President’s plan will invigorate the economy,” or “the economy’s not doing too well, so I won’t buy that new private jet I’ve been wanting.” Chances are, we’re all a part or soon to be a part of this “economy,” from low-wage laborers to millionaire CEOs. Who or what runs the economy? What makes it function the way it does? What makes certain companies do well, makes people become successful or respected (or maybe even both)? Is there a person at the top of the chain who makes decisions for themselves, directly responsible for the livelihoods of the over 7 billion people on the planet?

Even the President can't do everything the way he wants

Chances are, we’ll all be answering to someone else once we enter the economy. CEOs, although having full responsibility over the actions of their immediate companies, have no control over the will of their consumers or competitors, or even the law. The President, the figurehead symbol of the highest authority in America, even has to answer to three different groups of people: the Senate, House, and Supreme Court. Deciding what he wants for dinner is one thing, but Barack Obama has surely not been able to make the decisions he wants on his own for the fate of the country. He even finds opposition with congress in topics he thinks they have common ground on, like in this CNN article.

About 16.5 million people on earth are called “project managers,” that is are in control of overseeing and running various projects in the ways they see fit. Pretty much, you have a 1 in 500 chance of being one of these people who can do things the way they want to do them. In North America, the odds increase to about 2.4%, according to statistics on this site. The prospect of being a manager is increased by being born in more developed countries or wealthy families, but even then, chances are you’d end up being just another member of the workforce.

I’m the type of person who doesn’t want to be “just another member of the workforce.” I want to create and design the machine that powers the world, not just be a good piece of the machine. If I have to be a gear in a machine, though, I’ll try to be a really good gear. For instance, if I end up flipping burgers at McDonalds, I’ll make the best burgers ever. Theoretically. I like doing things I want to do, but if I’m relegated to doing something that someone else wants me to do, I’ll do it well. Did you get all that?

For our latest project in Age of Ex, we’ve come together as a class to create a documentary on the Boston Tea Party. Before we even started, we elected a “director supreme.” Well, at first we thought we were voting for a creative director and a technical director, but somehow once the position of creative director was decided that somehow turned into “director supreme.” To sum it up, the director has taken charge while our teacher Mike has stood back, and we’ve been divided up into meaningless groups and been given petty jobs.

At first I was disappointed, afraid that the documentary would turn into a mediocre clip while I get held back in tedious research jobs. I soon realized, though that just because I wasn’t in control didn’t mean I had to completely give in and become a work slave. I have enough other things going on in my life to be too invested in a class film; it’s not like our documentary’s going to win an Oscar or anything. I’ll try to make myself content with a non-leadership role on this one, doing quality work to help the group but not overpowering them with my opinions. For this project, I’ll be fine taking a backseat. On the other hand, back seat driving is never out of the question.


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