The Working Man, Part I

The importance that work holds in our lives cannot be overstated. To a great degree, work defines who we are. This is true not only in a deeper philosophical sense but in an immediate, colloquial sense as well. The question, “Who’s that?” is just as likely to be answered with a description of the person’s profession as it is with the person’s name. So it says a lot that so many people hate what they do for a living. What’s more, most young people are daunted by the challenge of finding suitable work. Just like relationships, this is a big topic and I will break it up into a few parts.

Chances are, you probably dislike or hate your job, which in turn, makes it quite likely that you dislike or hate your life. Another possibility is that you are young and still trying to determine your career path. It’s not easy: you see most of the older people in your life dislike or hate their jobs. You wonder what choice on earth could you possibly make that could secure for you a different, happier fate than theirs. Voices of idealism tell you to “follow your dreams” while voices of practicality tell you to follow what might be closer to your nightmares. After all, paying bills is real.

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So you consult the cyber oracle known as the world-wide-web (remember, webs and nets are things that trap prey) and it tells you that the “hottest” jobs right now are –

Data Scientist, Development and Operations Engineer, Marketing Manager, Occupational Therapist, HR Manager, Electrical Engineer, Mobile Developer, Product Manager, Actuary, Financial Analyst, Financial Planner, Computer Control Programmer, Biomedical Engineer, Market Research Analyst, Software Developer, Statistician, Computer Systems Analyst, Compliance Officer, Web Developer, as well as quite a large number of specialties within the medical field.

So basically, we have here a big bunch of soyboy cubicle-slave shit, plus healing our burgeoning population of sick/fat people. The majority of the “jobs of the future” will have men in front of a computer screen day after long day, getting a horrible posture and sending their testosterone levels spiraling down into the basement. What a world… No wonder people are committing suicide like there’s no tomorrow. What’s more, they don’t let just anybody from off the street do this stuff – you have to be a good boy and get through 16+ years of schooling first! a feat which will require you to take on tons of debt and probably take mind-adjusting drugs as well. (You know, because it’s considered “abnormal” for a youth to not want to sit down 8 hours a day and get the special kind of training required to one day be a cog in the machine!) How do people manage to do this? to march headlong into this? I could never let my children go down this road.

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I can’t even count how many people I’ve known who earn large wages working the “hot jobs” and “jobs of the future” who HATE their jobs and are clearly self-medicating their depression and anxiety with drugs, alcohol, and pixels. They tell me this stuff. And I just listen and think, “Damn bro, I didn’t even finish college and I’m clearly much happier with my career than you are with yours!”

I’ve had my own window cleaning business since I was in my early twenties. I work outdoors, exposed to the elements and the change of the seasons, my body labors while my mind is free to pursue whatever it wants. Occasionally there are challenges and even dangers. There is teamwork and camaraderie. There are days of incredibly nice weather, and days when the weather is harsh. Importantly, when a job is finished, you can really see what you have accomplished. While I’m not claiming that window cleaning meets all that which I consider ideal, it at least has a good portion of the elements that comprise “normal” human work – “normal” being defined by conditions that prevailed over the long course of our evolutionary history, namely, labor that is primarily physical and done outdoors.

In case I have not been clear enough, let me repeat:

Under conditions defined by the countless generations of human history, and even pre-human history, normal work, particularly for men, is (1) physical and (2) outdoors. Additionally, normal work contains elements of (3) difficulty and occasional (4) danger, is usually closely tied to other (5) people and animals, and has (6) results which can be readily observed.

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This is not my opinion. It is a plain observation of the facts. The very recent industrial revolution and more recent computer revolution can in no way redefine what constitutes “normal” work – a definition crafted over numerous millennia. It’s easy now to see why people hate their jobs so much, since very few jobs of today have much in the way of any of the six attributes listed above. Moreover, seeing how significant a matter work is, it’s easy to see why there is so much depression, anxiety, and abuse of drugs – of both the chemical and technological kind. Let there also be no unwarranted romanticizing of pre-industrial life. Living then was tough business, but we are made for it. And I’ll tell you this: No farmer ever said his work was soul-killing.

If the problem were simply that people were tricked into cubicles to do completely safe, non-physical work indoors distant from living things with said work having very abstract results, we could just remedy this miserable situation by redirecting them to natural, healthy work conforming to the six attributes. But by no coincidence, the very jobs which are best according to nature’s laws are most often the most decimated, or virtually eliminated, by industrial innovation. And then people wonder why “men” of today are like this:

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Oh, and if that’s not bad enough, remember, tech has made it so that the job you hate comes home with you via your devices. You know it and I know it; there’s only one way out of this. Turn off the world’s electricity.

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