I recently read an article called Bullshit Jobs that very eloquently put into words what I’ve been thinking for a long time. We have the technology to reduce the work day significantly from what it is, instead, it’s the same. Technology has made everything move faster and more efficient. A single hard drive can store a companies entire filing system and be shared with the whole office at the sometime. And it’s cheap. If robots are stealing our jobs, shouldn’t we be able to sit at home in a Star Trek utopia? If we have all this extra processing power, why do I have to be at my desk for 8 hours? This is a very important question.
Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.
I know that I only do a few hours of real work. The rest is spent on my phone, surfing the internet, chatting with coworkers and day dreaming of being somewhere else. I would love to show up for my meetings, do my work and go home. I’ll even take the reduced pay. I’d rather be happy then make more money to spend more to fool myself into being happy.
I’ve recently been reading The Element by Ken Robinson. The book is about finding your passion in life; finding those things that you love to do. I don’t know that many people that like sitting at their desk answering emails. I bet they would rather get their work done and spend that time on a task that makes them happy. That was the way it was suppose to be. That’s the way it still could be.
Yet, just this week there is a story of an intern that apparently died after working too many hours. A 21 year old collapsed because of the excessive hours they were pressured into working. In investment banking no less… the most useless job possible in my opinion. If all the investment bankers stopped doing their job for a month, would anyone notice? The stock markets would react, but if no one was watching them, would it matter?
The world has made tasks, jobs and entire industries where their only purpose is to serve themselves. Somehow we’ve come to accept that occupying a chair for 8 hours a day is what work is. It’s increasingly depressing to me to realize all this time is wasted around the globe when we have real problems to solve. The fact that people trade futures; make money betting on what might happen in a made-up system blows my mind.