Listen to this segment from The Mike Malloy Show here:
The most important part of the day if you live in a prison, nuthouse, or zoo is … feeding time. Even if the food is mediocre to bad … any break in the constant boredom is welcome.
One of the first things learned when living in an institution is: You Must Follow The Rules. If you don’t … they won’t feed you. The Rules might be degrading, inhumane, counterproductive, or just plain stupid … but it doesn’t make any difference. If you don’t follow The Rules … you won’t get fed.
After understanding that particular fact of life, most of us accept the operant conditioning so we can line up with everyone else holding their food tray at dinner time.
So life goes on. We follow the rules … and they feed us. But what if we want a double portion of stew, or a bigger piece of pie? How do we get it? We can’t follow The Rules any better than we already are. What do we have to do to get a bigger piece of cherry pie?
At first we only have ourselves to use as a resource. If we want more out of existence we have to start thinking about how we can use other people as our resource.
Look around. Pay attention. Watch your fellow prisoners or inmates. You’ll find somebody who’s not following The Rules. And then you can tell a guard or the head nurse all about it. Then you can have your pie. Essentially all you have to do is align yourself with The Authorities instead of your fellow prisoners or inmates. You stop being a part of “Us” when you start cooperating with “Them.” And it pays off.
The prison population is huge. There’s always somebody who’s not following The Program you can rat on. There’s always somebody you can use to get ahead. And you prosper. Because you’ve understood how to use The Rules. You’re on a whole new level now.
But you’re not alone.
Other prisoners or inmates have also tumbled to the process of how to get … more. These are people like you who have figured out how to use The System. They know you can’t get anywhere just following The Rules. These are people you can work with. Like I said … the population is huge. You need a network of eyes and ears to keep track of what’s going on. You need these people if you want to expand. It makes all the sense in the world to join forces with them.
So you do.
And you prosper.
Sometimes at night … after Lights Out … uncomfortable thoughts surface. What would happen if the other prisoners or inmates found out what you were doing? What would they do if they found out you and your new friends were using them? You’ve got to continue to be very careful that they don’t. This is The Big Secret that no one can find out. You and your new friends must create a security arm of the network that is more important than the other work the network does. If it doesn’t stay a secret … you’ll lose the network. Everything that you’ve worked for will be gone. You’ll be surrounded by the people you’ve used … and they won’t be very happy finding out they’ve been played for chumps for your gain.
You tell yourself this isn’t paranoia. It’s just good business practice to safeguard the business.
And life goes on.
The Network continues to ferret out those who don’t follow The Rules and The Security Arm of The Network watches the population looking for anyone who looks like they’re getting too close to your Secret. You turn in The Rule Breakers … and get rid of the threats.
It’s easy to get rid of threats to The Network. Most people will do anything to get more stew or a bigger piece of pie.
And you prosper.
There is so much work to be done every day maintaining the system. It takes up so much time. But it’s worth it … because when the system is running smoothly … it is beautiful to behold. The more work you put in … the more you get back in return.
Reinforcement, punishment, extinction. It works like a charm.
The system we’ve completely bought into is from an old design that has in its heart another secret.
That secret is guarded more ferociously than the secret we have kept from our fellow prisoners or inmates. We’ve never looked for it because we’ve spent all of our time maintaining the system that supported us. Who has the time for thinking when the system demands all?
But if we had the time to think … if we knew that it didn’t make any difference how many of our fellow prisoners or inmates we ratted out and pushed out of our way … if we never chose to work within the system at all … but just looked at the system … How long do you think it would take us to figure out that …
The Warden eats better than anyone.
Feeding Time January 20, 2011