You know those ‘I’m too busy to be happy’ corporate types, right?
In the pre-industrial age, most working-age folks had ‘real’ jobs — where you’d toil hard, come home dog-tired & sleep well.
Fast forward to today — the age of bitcoin millionaires, flaky 'influencers' & technocrats living off bloated valuations, and its natural to feel disillusioned with the whole ‘capitalism is meritocratic’ thing. Not to mention the legions of paper-pushing corporates with senseless job roles.
If you wonder, there’s even a term for it — ‘bulls@*t job’, coined by LSE professor, David Graeber. In 2013, Graeber published an influential essay called On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs. More than a million views and later he wrote an international bestseller — Bullshit Jobs: A Theory.
According to the professor, there are 5 kinds of ‘bulls@*t’ jobs(refer wikipedia):
- Flunkies: Who serve to make others feel important, e.g., receptionists, administrative assistants, door attendants
- Goons: Who act aggressively on behalf of their employers, e.g., lobbyists, corporate lawyers, telemarketers, public relations
- Duct Tapers: Who fix problems that shouldn’t exist, e.g., programmers repairing shoddy code
- Box Tickers: Performance managers, in-house magazine journalists, leisure coordinators
- Taskmasters: Middle management, ‘leadership’ folks & other shmuck
Millions from the corporate world will find themselves nodding to this list. The universe is brimming with these blokes — anxious & petrified, muttering corporate mumbo-jumbo breathlessly.
With the work-from-home situation, they are now more visible — at public parks, vacation spots, at restaurants with family. You’ll see them typing away at their work-issued MacBooks, ticking one more ‘work’ off their to-do lists. For them, it’s always about one more ‘call’, one more ‘meeting’ about what they are about to make others do. This is true for most middle-management corporate roles — where a lot of people are being handed a lot of money to do nothing.
These ‘bulls@*t’ jobs are also highly ‘respected’ and pay awfully well already, despite being completely pointless. And the people doing them know this. If a garbage collector, a primary school teacher, or a cook don’t turn up at work, you would notice their absence. But if these ‘bulls@*t’ jobs go away, we’d be no worse off.
Often these people are unhappy, cause they know their work doesn’t matter, making them go on a wild goose chase hunting higher paycheques every appraisal cycle.
If you are a student, or a corporate worker stuck in a ‘bulls@*t’ job looking for a more fulfilling life, here is how you can go about doing it:
#1. Realise You Have A ‘Bulls@*t’ Job
Imagine sleepwalking through life, and realising, on your deathbed that you have been shitting all along, too anxious & busy to live life.
You have awakened from your slumber — congratulations!
#2. Take Cognisance Of What You Find Meaningful
Know what’s important for you. Write down the top 5 things that you believe are the essence of how you want to live life. This can include things like “family time,” or “sing every day.” It could also include more complex ideas, like “honesty” and “simplicity.”
Now do the same exercise for your work. If you’re perpetually frustrated about your current job, it won’t be too difficult.
#3. Chalk Out A ‘Ditch This Bullshit’ Plan
Humphrey Bogart used to keep a $100 bill in his dresser drawer at all times — a decent chunk of change in the 1920s. He referred to it as his ‘fuck-you money’, because it meant he’d never be forced to take a crappy part.
“Somebody wants you to do something, fuck you. Boss pisses you off, fuck you! Own your house. Have a couple bucks in the bank. Don’t drink. That’s all I have to say to anybody on any social level. Did your grandfather take risks? I guarantee he did it from a position of fuck you. A wise man’s life is based around fuck you.”— John Goodman, The Gambler
For most of us, a ‘Ditch This Bullshit’ plan is about having some of that ‘f*uck you money’. Others with more expensive lifestyles and more responsibilities would need a bit more planning.