(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)
I was reading this depressingly brilliant Cracked article on BS inspirational stories. Short form many of them are about people in horrible circumstances managing to survive (ignoring many who dont), or they’re people of means who we’ll never be. Somewhere in the article it also mentioned how we’ve idealized work and working ourselves to death.
I write on careers and jobs and all that. I am a careerist in that I like what I do and its part of me. But I don’t believe in idealizing work.
Why? Work is a neutral thing. Amount of work, hours put in, and so on – is no measure of value.
Why? People need to relax. You can’t work all the time.
Why? Because we have to goddamn stop expecting people to work all the time in America.
At the same time all this workaholism in America is paired with a weird kind of hedonism. We’re supposed to have the right clothes, eat the right food, take vacations, and keep up with the Kardashians. We’re supposed to work all the time and also relax, we’re supposed to be Inspirational Poor People pulling themselves up and also Beautiful Rich People.
This hedonism thing bullshit as well.
Why? Buying something doesn’t mean its good for you or what you want; sometimes someone is selling you something.
Why? A lot of what gets sold to us is to make up for a void in our life or show other people – we’re not really enjoining it.
Why? Because a lot of this is not about what we really want – which is probably to work goddamn less.
We’re Calvinist Hedonists. Sounds like an oxymoron? That’s the point.
Work, leisure, and everything else is highly messed up in our culture. But down deep I think they come from the same problem; a lack of meaning and larger context.
We don’t build a sustainable society, but a stratified one of haves and have-nots (read Twilight Of The Elites). It’s a society that’s meaningless, grubbing for money, trying to tweak that next tax bracket. It’s one where work means nothing except trying to scrape by or trying to show up the next person with a bunch of money.
We build a society on selling people B.S., things they don’t need. Ask yourself how much of our economy is really just a bunch of bullshit anyway. how many things don’t mean anything, aren’t practical or aren’t fun. But if we slow down our hedonism, we might realize how pointless our work is and how much our society abandons its members.
Look I write on work. I love doing it. I also write on cool stuff. But I write on what has meaning to me and to people.
Maybe we need to slow down and ask what’s important. Or maybe we’re scared because we’ll realize how much we’ve done wrong.