Good Ideas I: On the Devastations of Work
Good ideas: A round up of things, written or otherwise, that I’ve read lately and found super interesting and worth sharing — plus why I think they’re so good, along with memorable quotes. Maybe this will become an ongoing series, who knows?
Buzzfeed News (January 5)
A refreshing read revealing that yes, life is hard and yes, the struggle is fucking real; self-care is a form of escapism; and procrastination is just another manifestation of anxiety; BUT at least we’re starting to become wiser to the fact that this is why things are they way they are. And although it be like that sometimes, at least we’re starting to look at the systemic why.
“That realization recast my recent struggles: Why can’t I get this mundane stuff done? Because I’m burned out. Why am I burned out? Because I’ve internalized the idea that I should be working all the time. Why have I internalized that idea? Because everything and everyone in my life has reinforced it — explicitly and implicitly — since I was young. Life has always been hard, but many millennials are unequipped to deal with the particular ways in which it’s become hard for us.”
“I never thought the system was equitable. I knew it was winnable for only a small few. I just believed I could continue to optimize myself to become one of them. … My new watchword was “Everything that’s good is bad, everything that’s bad is good”: Things that should’ve felt good (leisure, not working) felt bad because I felt guilty for not working; things that should’ve felt “bad” (working all the time) felt good because I was doing what I thought I should and needed to be doing in order to succeed.”
“For many millennials, a social media presence — on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter — has also become an integral part of obtaining and maintaining a job. … “Branding” is a fitting word for this work, as it underlines what the millennial self becomes: a product. And as in childhood, the work of optimizing that brand blurs whatever boundaries remained between work and play.“
“To be poor is to have very little mental bandwidth to make decisions, “good” or otherwise — as a parent, as a worker, as a partner, as a citizen. The steadier our lives, the more likely we are to make decisions that will make them even steadier. But steadiness isn’t a word we use to describe contemporary American life.”
“Pundits spend a lot of time saying “This is not normal,” but the only way for us to survive, day to day, is to normalize the events, the threats, the barrage of information, the costs, the expectations of us. Burnout isn’t a place to visit and come back from; it’s our permanent residence.”
“We are beginning to understand what ails us, and it’s not something an oxygen facial or a treadmill desk can fix.”
The Guardian (Jan 8)
A follow-up article to the one above, and another look into how the odds (of capitalism, in particular—because in the capitalist system, your intrinsic value as a person is based on your work and your productivity) are stacked against us.
“The line between work and life is so blurred that for millennials, the idea of a work-life balance has never been an aspiration, let alone a reality.”
“Your entire life is an extension of you as a brand, a marketable concept that extends far beyond the quality of the work you put in at the office, or what you write in emails and on the page… work has filled all corners of millennial life, and there is no hope for your own life outside of work because social media has become another arm of the surveillance state.”
“What’s the outcome? A generation that absolutely detests the status quo and fails to see how the financial industry works for more than a small handful. Solutions tend to focus on individual wellbeing: therapy through nutrition, diet, “sleep hygiene” and organisation. The success of Jordan Peterson and Marie Kondo speaks to this: theirs are self-help books essentially, that promise greater happiness by focusing inwards rather than accepting that widespread unhappiness is down to a society which prizes economic success and consumerism.”
ManRepeller (Jan 1)
Not going to lie, I used to idolize the freelance life quite a bit. (Who hasn’t? You can’t tell me a flexible work schedule isn’t at least the tiniest bit compelling.) But since then I’ve had a change of heart because I have a problem with unplugging as it is with a full-time job—plus, I don’t know what I’d do if my entire livelihood was based off of zero structure other than my own trembling willpower. Side gig? Perhaps. But I’m more invested in carving out leisure time and (actually enjoying life, if I still can as a millennial) than filling my every waking moment with thoughts of—there’s that word again—work.
“Freelancing asks you to put a lot of stock in the work you do — to treat your job not like a thing you do for money, but rather like a lifestyle, a deliberate choice.”
“I’ve lost contact with my writing as being artistic or creative, because I’ve commodified it, and that makes it very difficult to envision a way forward that leaves room for projects that don’t have an immediate financial reward.”
“The weird thing about trying to shoehorn your passion into your job is that then your passion becomes this pressure, this weight. As a “professional writer,” I produce more, but the work I’m producing doesn’t feel like me — it feels like work, and in order for it to be successful and efficient as such, I have to detach from it to a certain degree.”
How do you view your work? What have you been reading lately? Let’s talk — shoot me a DM on Instagram @iejessie!