Chapter Companion Four
The Elan “Big Brother” or “Big Sister” was an interesting concept but you have to look at it from both sides of the relationship.
As the “Little” you are basically terrified because you suddenly, for the first time in your life, have a living, breathing, thinking person next to you whose only job is to watch your every move. You cannot so much as get out of a chair without asking them first. You are constantly being “pulled up” (Elan-speak for corrected) by them for every action: look straight ahead, stop slouching, be quiet, don’t talk to that person, don’t look at that person, no you can’t use the bathroom, no you can’t go outside, no you can’t…
This is a serious mind-fuck. But then again, think about the perspective of the “Big”. Here you are, equally a prisoner of Elan, and you have finally earned enough trust and a high enough position to be in charge of a new resident. Of course, the reason you are playing Elan’s game is because you have been through all of the low ranks and you understand that it is hell and you never want to go back. You aren’t happy but are happier because you have more privileges. Privileges you would do anything to keep.
The worst part about being the Big Brother is knowing exactly how that new resident feels. You know because you also were a new resident with a Big Brother. So you know exactly what is on their mind: running away. You know because that is what was on your mind. But now the tables have turned and it is your job to make sure that they don’t. Because you have been in Elan long enough to see what happens to the Big when the Little gets over on them.
This is a game of wits. You are both trying to outsmart each other and neither one of you can act like it, you both have to maintain a facade. And in Elan, the ends always justify the means. I have seen Bigs straight up trick the Littles in the most diabolical ways. I have seen Bigs pretend to want to run away too, just to see if the Little bites the bait. Just so they could immediately rat them out. Just so they could watch the Little get severely punished by Elan.
A scared Little who knows the consequences is easier to control than one who doesn’t yet know. And since Elan was controlled by children, not only were these things not against the rules, they were taught to you by the veteran children. I can remember being trained by another child to whisper things into my Little Brother’s ear at night to see if he was really sleeping or just pretending. Devious things. Things meant to provoke a reaction.
Oh, by the way, if you want to see the kinds of bed’s we slept in, here is a real photo. I think this was taken by some people who snuck onto the grounds after Elan was closed. Also note that we had three bunks (not only one like in the picture) shoved together in the dorms. And I also have never seen a phone in the dorm, not really sure why there is one in the photo, but it is not like any of the phones called anywhere but the Elan switchboard.
Anyways, the point I am trying to make, and one of the most important things that you need to understand about Elan is this: we (the children) didn’t psychologically torture and outsmart one another only because we wanted to please the adult staff. We did it because the Elan program demanded it for our own survival. A Big Brother used every trick in the world to conquer his Little Brother because our environment demanded it. Why should I let him get away while I have to remain? Why should I suffer and be punished because he wants to escape and go back to his family and friends? What about my family and friends? What about my life?
Elan was a system where there was a finite amount of everything and any time someone got away with something, someone else lost it. Bigs controlled their Littles because the system demanded that the Big lose for every time that the Little won, and vice versa. Now throw in the fact that we were all teenagers and realize that none of the adult staff gave a damn about how we got something done as long as the side benefiting Elan was the victor.
As far as the last panel, realizing that Elan had girls, I remember thinking how awesome that was because I believed that despite the warnings, everyone knows that teenage boys and girls will, like life, find a way.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. And it really speaks to the power of control that Elan had. That is why I will say again and again that the structure Elan was built from was born from an ancient evil, some kind of twisted control systems as old as humanity itself. Back when we were slightly evolved apes sitting around a fire and someone decided that they didn’t like someone else, the first thoughts of control started to evolve. How can I turn everyone against this person? How can I keep them down? How can I make them feel helpless?
How can I destroy them?
These are the thoughts Elan was built from and the system demanded that we played by those standards. You know the punishments and psychological torment is absolutely brutal when you would rather suppress your natural teenage hormones than face them. And just to make it clear, in Elan, you didn’t even so much as smile at a girl. You wouldn’t even dare to secretly pass one a note. Because that note would be your downfall. That shred of paper could set you back years in the program.
So ask yourself, would you do it?