Friday, April 29, 2011

BPOs degrade Filipinos

I have never been a fan of call centers. I have never been a fan of its glorified namesake "BPO". Most of all, I am not a fan of what it does to Filipinos.

Before moving on I would like to point out that I have never worked for a call center. But I did apply for the job many years ago. I also have friends and relatives who did work for call centers. These days I would occasionally thank God that I was never hired for the job. You see, with that kind of job, once you're in, you're NEVER going out. It's the millennium's McJob. It's literally career suicide. I am not being prejudicial. I am being a realist. I see [and smell] the pile of human fecal matter that the west has dropped on our doorstep.

Today I could not imagine myself as an expensive emotional punching bag. You had to think that catering to irate or incompetent people on the other side of the globe is already degrading as it is but the thought that the people calling for OUR help is actually earning much more than we are! WHY are we the ones providing help? Why are we the ones who are underpaid individuals wiping their noses and listening to the whines of white boys? If we were so smart why are we the ones on the receiving end reading a scripted answer and sounding just as stupid?

This is why call centers are a bad idea.

They degrade the way of life for Filipinos. Why?
Instead of spending a good amount of time and money in college or even high school we look to call centers as a "quick and easy" excuse out of a good education and the financial responsibility that goes with it. Who needs to go to school when you can earn "big bucks" answering irate customers, right? All you need is good diction and a pretentious accent, right? Wrong! A slightly above average paying job (unless your going into business) is NOT an excuse to skip a good education. Hell, even Mark Zuckerberg had a good solid foundation before he started Facebook. You can put your education on hiatus but you can never put it away for good.

Seriously, who wants to be a driver, a saleslady, a waiter, a nurse or even a DOCTOR or ENGINEER, when call centers pay twice even THRICE as much?! What's going to happen to our skilled workers if everyone wants to make a living answering phone calls?

Recently, we've already been stuck at a dilemma that these individuals are leaving our country for a better life. What has our government and entrepreneurs done to compensate them well in the first place?

Degrade the mindset of the Filipino youth. 
Got your girlfriend pregnant by accident or on purpose? Daddy, left the family? Ran away from home? No problem! Just apply for a job at a call center and you have instant stability. How many call center agents agents are single parents or currently opt for the job due to unplanned pregnancy? With this scenario again, we could be looking at another group of individuals who will NOT finish school and who think that working late equates working hard. This job introduces a mindset that you can easily run to this job even if you're not responsible enough to work, save money and raise a family properly.

Call centers introduce a false sense of security for the uneducated. A an outward consequence of my first point.

Degrade the financial situation of the country
With the above situation described, it is also no wonder that this next point is an outward consequence in the domino effect of call center employment. For some reason unknown to me, the culture of these BPO companies are very superficial, like it was an everyday fashion show of sorts (I wear the same shirt twice in a row and don't give a fuck). Since most individuals who sign up are under the impression that the job pays big (which it actually doesn't) these people tend to spend even beyond their means to catch up to their colleagues' trends (Mundane gadgets, clothes and accessories all add up to a hefty credit card bill). After all, you're earning the big bucks now, right? Wrong! If these people start borrowing money from banks via credit cards and don't pay, we could be looking at a recession on our very own soil! I have yet to meet someone who works in this field who actually pays their bills on time or, by some great miracle, in full. I also have not met a single credit card agent that deals with this group of employees.

The false sense of security and the misconception that the pay is big entices irresponsible individuals to spend beyond their means. What will that do to the financial standing of our country?

Threaten the health of Filipinos
Two words: Graveyard shifts. We don't need to be scientists and doctors to know that humans were not made for nocturnal activity. It is not healthy and it is never healthy! Compound that with the stress that comes with the job and it's no wonder why this job also has a lot of incidents of stress and people rolling over and dropping dead. Even if you slept eight hours after being up for an entire evening, it doesn't fix this. Some of us already know this firsthand even if you haven't worked for a call center before.

Why on earth would we stay up at night to wait for a phone call?! Unless you have personal motives like making a booty call, no one else is worth the wait! Everyone else who calls is just some brainless overpaid asshole looking for someone to bitch.

Everywhere I go I see on walls, buses and newspapers glorifying call centers; about how our "potential" can be reached; about how you can achieve your "career goal". Reality check, you cannot achieve your career goal as a doctor if your only purpose is answering phone calls. You don't build bridges, buildings and roads as an engineer if you are catering to brainless people with IQs no higher than a a fruit salad. Most of all, you can't educate an entire nation if you, as a teacher, stop teaching and would rather teach someone how to use a smart phone - both of you whom have never used one in your lives (guess which one of you can't afford it too?).

And, please, do not give me the "you were there by choice" excuse because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that before you even set foot beyond those magnetic doors you were desperate and out of options. So, NO, you were not there "by choice". 

Tread very carefully, because you are never leaving those doors again. When the REAL opportunity knocks it will not look for you. It will look for real engineers, doctors and nurses. The job which you were dreaming of doing in the first place. Now you're on the outside looking it. Regretful of the bad choice you made early in your "career".

If you want a real BPO you work in real companies that actually have the "process" in business process outsourcing. If you want an IT company, you work for companies that provide automated electronic solutions. At least to me and most of my colleagues, call centers don't fall into that description. Calling a call center a BPO is like calling a mountain bike an ATV and works "just like an ATV". They may appear to do the same thing (interact with white boys) but they are two completely different devices (one answers phone calls while the other does the actual work).

It is a crutch to an unsolved problem
It is no secret that the the Philippines has a high unemployment rate. BPOs fix hat problem but to be quite honest this doesn't fix the problem completely. Even this field will eventually fill up. We can't be ALL call center agents. Like I said, what would happen to our diversified skillsets if this happens? Jesus Christ!

It is not a wonder why a certain Indian (I forgot where I saw it) once said: "Only a Filipino would think of making a career out of a call center." This was after India, a once looming threat to the Philippine call center industry, wizened up to the ruse that the west was just exploiting them. Today, they know better. They know that the there's a lot of them and the west wants them. Today they would say in their amusing yet cool Indian accent: "Don't bullshit us, white boy!"

When will it be our turn to wise up?

Note: This post is not subject to debate or argument. The existence of call centers do more harm than good. If you want to improve the employment situation in the Philippines provide more jobs and better wages for EVERY industry as it has always been and SHOULD have been and not glorify a job that actually nobody wants but have no choice.

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