Author Topic: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)  (Read 5190 times)

MoMan

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Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« on: February 26, 2019, 01:14:24 PM »
So does this make all of us FIRE pursuers atheists? At any rate, I found it an interesting read.

FEB 24, 2019
For the college-educated elite, work has morphed into a religious identity—promising identity, transcendence, and community, but failing to deliver.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/02/religion-workism-making-americans-miserable/583441/

Evgenia

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2019, 02:04:14 PM »
Interesting piece. Thanks for sharing it. I think the choice of "new atheisms" is a terrific label - I feel I have seen so many of those in the SF Bay Area (especially around food and exercise rituals, which approach talisman levels). DH and I have been FIRE for four years as of June, and we REALLY felt the religion aspect of workism when we left. Both the facial reactions and words we heard were similar to those directed at people leaving cults or something: "You'll be back." "You'll see." "You'll be so bored. I give you guys one year, tops." We were written off, ostracized, shunned, called crazy, mid-life-crisis, the usual.

Of course, they can keep it - especially the hospitalizations for panic attacks and exhaustion, the kids they scream at because the kids want five minutes of attention, the $350+/hour therapy appointments for stress and marriage counseling because both people are at work 10+ hours/day.

Duchess of Stratosphear

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2019, 12:09:06 PM »
Boy, I wish Keynes had been right about that 15-hour work week!

I haven't listened to it all yet, but the NPR show On Point had a discussion about that article yesterday: https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2019/02/26/workism-religion-job-fulfillment-derek-thompson


honeybbq

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2019, 12:26:40 PM »
I take issue with this statement:

" What’s more, in a recent Pew Research report on the epidemic of youth anxiety, 95 percent of teens said “having a job or career they enjoy” would be “extremely or very important” to them as an adult. This ranked higher than any other priority, including “helping other people who are in need” (81 percent) or getting married (47 percent). Finding meaning at work beats family and kindness as the top ambition of today’s young people."

I'm going to put on my Ayn Rand hat: I have always been a firm believer in putting your own oxygen mask on first. If I have a great job I love and enjoy, I'll probably have enough money to help people that don't have enough and find a partner along the way. There is nothing wrong with wanting a job you love. If it happens to pay well, all the better. 

pegleglolita

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2019, 03:18:33 PM »

I'm going to put on my Ayn Rand hat:

Spoiler alert: it's made of tinfoil glued together with human tears. 

mm1970

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2019, 03:59:27 PM »

I'm going to put on my Ayn Rand hat:

Spoiler alert: it's made of tinfoil glued together with human tears.

Funny.  I was very libertarian-ish in my early 30s, so my husband recommended I read Ayn Rand.  I didn't make it too far into one of her books before I realized it was bullshit and so incredibly simplistic.

honeybbq

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2019, 04:18:58 PM »

I'm going to put on my Ayn Rand hat:

Spoiler alert: it's made of tinfoil glued together with human tears.

Funny.  I was very libertarian-ish in my early 30s, so my husband recommended I read Ayn Rand.  I didn't make it too far into one of her books before I realized it was bullshit and so incredibly simplistic.

I only used her name because of the inherent selfishness in the next statement. Not because I am a believer in her work.

habaneroNorway

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2019, 04:58:43 PM »
Is there anything inherently wrong in finding regularly paid work statisfying on some/muliiple levles? There was a story about FIRE in the newspaper here in Norway a few months ago and one researcher pointed out that the majority of ppl retiering early actually went back to working within 6 months after "retiring". I am aware of the MMM view that retiring does not mean that you stop working, but if you have a job you genuinely enjoy for some reason I dont really see the big difference apart from having the knowlegde that you can quit/get fired/do something else and not view it as the end of the world. I find enjoyment in my paid job. If not, I would do something else.

I could retire tomorrow if I wanted to - the math works out, but still I go to work every morning and genuinely enjoy it.

less4success

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2019, 06:08:06 PM »
It's interesting, as noted in the article, that work hours have increased for the highest earners (i.e. the ones who should have the least need to work more). This could be motivated by seeking fulfillment at work, but also potentially by greed or fear, or maybe even tax policy :)

Bloop Bloop

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2019, 11:37:55 PM »
A lot of people are just insecure - they need to get praise to think that they are validated and belong.

Me, I learned early on that praise was cheap. My bosses used to praise me lots, but that didn't help much when I asked for a raise.

I eventually told them to fuck off and started my own company, where I now charge like a wounded bull.

No one praises me any more, but people pay me, and I know which I'd rather have.

Being able to disconnect yourself from the world of seeking "praise", "admiration", "respect" and "achievement" puts you in a happier mindset, too. Don't live for others - live for yourself; make the big bucks, then fuck off and enjoy your retirement. If you're always chasing praise and achievement you'll always be wanting the next big hit, like a druggie.

KathrinS

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2019, 12:07:10 AM »
This is quite true in my experience - the highest earners I work with are often the ones who have the least time to come see me (I teach Pilates).  Yesterday a lawyer client cancelled on me because 'work called me in at 3am'. Slightly shocked, I told my next client and he said: 'Oh yes, that's quite normal. I used to do that for 15 years. But it's okay, most of these workplaces have sleeping pods for if you really can't keep going.'

Got me thinking that maybe starting out self-employed was not such a bad decision after all!

Linea_Norway

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2019, 01:52:11 AM »
Is there anything inherently wrong in finding regularly paid work statisfying on some/muliiple levles? There was a story about FIRE in the newspaper here in Norway a few months ago and one researcher pointed out that the majority of ppl retiering early actually went back to working within 6 months after "retiring". I am aware of the MMM view that retiring does not mean that you stop working, but if you have a job you genuinely enjoy for some reason I dont really see the big difference apart from having the knowlegde that you can quit/get fired/do something else and not view it as the end of the world. I find enjoyment in my paid job. If not, I would do something else.

I could retire tomorrow if I wanted to - the math works out, but still I go to work every morning and genuinely enjoy it.

Of course, being FI means you can whatever the fuck you want. Including having a job.

Most jobs feel better when you have the option to walk out at any moment (with the three month notice that we have).

Good for you that you enjoy your job so much. I personally regret having to work every time the weather outside is lovely and I am sitting in the office.

pegleglolita

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2019, 06:16:19 AM »

I'm going to put on my Ayn Rand hat:

Spoiler alert: it's made of tinfoil glued together with human tears.

Funny.  I was very libertarian-ish in my early 30s, so my husband recommended I read Ayn Rand.  I didn't make it too far into one of her books before I realized it was bullshit and so incredibly simplistic.

I only used her name because of the inherent selfishness in the next statement. Not because I am a believer in her work.

I got that. :)  I was just making a funny.  I think many angsty teens go through an Ayn Rand phase around age 15.  They should sell copies of The Fountainhead with a jumbo pack of black eyeliner and lipstick, safety pins, and a decorative gas mask.  "Gor!  The State's the worst!  It's, like, stealing my freedom!  Whatever!"  Meeting adults who still buy into that foot-stompy pseudointellectual drivel is hilarious.  And terrifying.  Surely the Germans have a word for that emotion that is both hilarity and terror...

jinga nation

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2019, 06:31:23 AM »
A lot of people are just insecure - they need to get praise to think that they are validated and belong.

Me, I learned early on that praise was cheap. My bosses used to praise me lots, but that didn't help much when I asked for a raise.

I eventually told them to fuck off and started my own company, where I now charge like a wounded bull.

No one praises me any more, but people pay me, and I know which I'd rather have.

Being able to disconnect yourself from the world of seeking "praise", "admiration", "respect" and "achievement" puts you in a happier mindset, too. Don't live for others - live for yourself; make the big bucks, then fuck off and enjoy your retirement. If you're always chasing praise and achievement you'll always be wanting the next big hit, like a druggie.
spot on, mate!
there's FB for the dopamine hits.
work is for wallet fattening.
disconnect from social media, focus on work, certifications/continual education, life, family, health, and drink and eat in moderation.
praise doesn't put food on the table.

bwall

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #14 on: February 28, 2019, 06:46:22 AM »
Is there anything inherently wrong in finding regularly paid work statisfying on some/muliiple levles? There was a story about FIRE in the newspaper here in Norway a few months ago and one researcher pointed out that the majority of ppl retiering early actually went back to working within 6 months after "retiring". I am aware of the MMM view that retiring does not mean that you stop working, but if you have a job you genuinely enjoy for some reason I dont really see the big difference apart from having the knowlegde that you can quit/get fired/do something else and not view it as the end of the world. I find enjoyment in my paid job. If not, I would do something else.

I could retire tomorrow if I wanted to - the math works out, but still I go to work every morning and genuinely enjoy it.

Plenty of people one these boards are FI but not RE by choice.

I think that I will exchange some of my time and effort for money for the rest of my life. Not because I need the money, fortunately, but because money is a convenient measuring stick by which I can evaluate myself.

FIRE@50

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2019, 07:07:59 AM »
Equating it with religion didn't work for me, but I enjoyed the article. Thanks for sharing.

Encourage your kids to take whatever job pays them the most so that they can retire as soon as possible. Pursing your passion through a career likely isn't going to work. It is surprisingly common among even millionaire professional athletes to not like the sport they are playing. They are just doing it for the quick money.

After you have the money, you can pursue the passion. Should that be a Mustachian tagline or something?

six-car-habit

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #16 on: February 28, 2019, 11:03:55 AM »

I'm going to put on my Ayn Rand hat:

Spoiler alert: it's made of tinfoil glued together with human tears.

Funny.  I was very libertarian-ish in my early 30s, so my husband recommended I read Ayn Rand.  I didn't make it too far into one of her books before I realized it was bullshit and so incredibly simplistic.

I only used her name because of the inherent selfishness in the next statement. Not because I am a believer in her work.

I got that. :)  I was just making a funny.  I think many angsty teens go through an Ayn Rand phase around age 15.  They should sell copies of The Fountainhead with a jumbo pack of black eyeliner and lipstick, safety pins, and a decorative gas mask.  "Gor!  The State's the worst!  It's, like, stealing my freedom!  Whatever!"  Meeting adults who still buy into that foot-stompy pseudointellectual drivel is hilarious.  And terrifying.  Surely the Germans have a word for that emotion that is both hilarity and terror...

 Your second funny was as good as the first ! 
 I read Fountainhead and part of another, didn't make it thru the 2nd book,  in early 20's on recommendation from a friend.  I think some of her rabid followers can still be found on Zerohedge site, although there is one guy there who likes to point out AynRand ended up taking social security and medicare [ or their equivalents]  in her later years.

sol

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #17 on: February 28, 2019, 11:21:19 AM »
AynRand ended up taking social security and medicare [ or their equivalents]  in her later years.

Ayn rand has become a symbol of hypocrisy in most circles these days.  She founded a cult of personality based on rejecting cults of personality.

She's also pretty unpopular with feminist groups for her depictions of erotic rape.  She had some pretty messed up ideas about sex, with became more clear in her later life as she got personally involved with some of her disciples in weird power-dynamic love triangles.

Also hugely unpopular with minority groups, for the ways in which she advocated that the oppressed poor deserved to be oppressed.  She seems to have genuinely hated the Native Americans in particular, for their "share the earth" philosophy and for failing to embrace western cutthroat capitalism even after it destroyed them.

Unsurprisingly, she's hugely popular in the Trump whitehouse.  Trump has personally cited The Fountainhead as his favorite book.  Like five of his cabinet members (Tillerson, Pompeo, etc) have quoted Rand as their defining literary influence, and her policies of unrestrained personal aggrandizement at the expense of all others explains a lot about the way Trump does business, even if it does seem somewhat counterproductive to the exercise of government.

So her books, though childish to most modern readers, still hold sway over people in power.  Even the worst ideas have to be taken seriously when the POTUS talks about them.  See:  wall, travel ban, children in cages, grab her by the pussy, very fine people, etc.

FINate

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ChpBstrd

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2019, 01:51:24 PM »
I love connect-the-dots articles like this one.

Surely, a blowback, counterculture, or generational rebellion is overdue. Workism must be unsustainable, if only because not everyone can be boss.

Still, I would no sooner dare to speculate that we've reached peak selfishness than I would dare to post a "top is in" thread on the MMM forum and commit myself to reading every reply. US culture is still very much about thinking the point of life is a pair of leased SUVs and a 3000+ square foot McMansion where one divorced middle manager sleeps on the weekends if they aren't travelling for work.

The religion metaphor is appropriate. What other kind of system can persuade people to spend their whole life's time and energy on unproven expectations of future satisfaction?

I worry because the religion analogy sugggests workism can be sustained forever. After all, advertising is its liturgy, and ads will always be with us. A cult of what Don Trump calls "high energy people" could be forming, with designs to make the rest of us "losers" their subjects in a new feudal order.

The question is: How does one escape domination by the workists? By refusing to participate in their rituals or by joining them?

kaizen soze

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #20 on: February 28, 2019, 02:11:46 PM »
It's interesting, as noted in the article, that work hours have increased for the highest earners (i.e. the ones who should have the least need to work more). This could be motivated by seeking fulfillment at work, but also potentially by greed or fear, or maybe even tax policy :)

My theory is that people mindlessly work as much as they can stand to. If higher income people work more it could be that those jobs are easier to put in long hours. Sitting is easier than standing. Easier to squeeze in work at home if your employer allows you to work remotely. Or it could be that successful people tend to be more willing and able to work long hours (on average).  Or it could be that high earners overestimate their hours. When I was honest with myself on working hours, I knew that my 60 hour per week job entailed me working more like 45-50. I do think that lifestyle inflation and generalized job insecurity makes it hard for everyone to go home on time; I'm not sure why that is the case more for high earners.

mm1970

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #21 on: February 28, 2019, 05:28:38 PM »
It's interesting, as noted in the article, that work hours have increased for the highest earners (i.e. the ones who should have the least need to work more). This could be motivated by seeking fulfillment at work, but also potentially by greed or fear, or maybe even tax policy :)

My theory is that people mindlessly work as much as they can stand to. If higher income people work more it could be that those jobs are easier to put in long hours. Sitting is easier than standing. Easier to squeeze in work at home if your employer allows you to work remotely. Or it could be that successful people tend to be more willing and able to work long hours (on average).  Or it could be that high earners overestimate their hours. When I was honest with myself on working hours, I knew that my 60 hour per week job entailed me working more like 45-50. I do think that lifestyle inflation and generalized job insecurity makes it hard for everyone to go home on time; I'm not sure why that is the case more for high earners.
I think some of it is job security.

But also: expectations.  In some industries and some levels, it's expected.  If everyone else is doing it, HOW can you be that person clocking out at 4:30 pm?

Plus, in my experience, and that of my husband - if you are good at your job and efficient...people just give you more damn work.  So then: you have more damn work to do.  We've had so many layoffs that I keep absorbing responsibilities.  For my spouse - they get more and more contracts - and he's REALLY good at his job.  He's also determined to do a good job and meet the contract requirements.

I also think it's a generational thing too.  My big sister always complains about millennials and how they are lazy.  But she's looking from the perspective of a very highly compensated district manager.  And they aren't coming from the same place.  They also want work-life balance, have kids, and have little interest in "paying their dues" to a company - because nobody stays at the same place for 30 years.  Where's the payoff?

fattest_foot

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #22 on: March 05, 2019, 09:21:11 AM »
I really liked this quote from the article, as it encapsulates my complaints with pretty much my entire career (and I realized it just a few years into it).

Quote
The output of white-collar work—algorithms, consulting projects, programmatic advertising campaigns—is more shapeless and often quite invisible. It’s not glib to say that the whiter the collar, the more invisible the product.

I always found myself happier doing something where I had a physical product to show at the end of the day. Blue collar type work like fixing a roof, repairing my own plumbing, or replacing an electrical system are immensely satisfying to me. The two careers I've had, in IT and writing contracts, both have very little to show for your effort. In fact, I'd go as far as to say the only way I know that I've done my job is that more work keeps happening.

I think that's part of why FIRE as a concept was so appealing to me. I make decent money doing this, but it's soul crushing to do. I tolerate it to get me towards the goal of never having to do it again.

Holyoak

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #23 on: March 05, 2019, 10:37:01 AM »
I really liked this quote from the article, as it encapsulates my complaints with pretty much my entire career (and I realized it just a few years into it).

Quote
The output of white-collar work—algorithms, consulting projects, programmatic advertising campaigns—is more shapeless and often quite invisible. It’s not glib to say that the whiter the collar, the more invisible the product.

I always found myself happier doing something where I had a physical product to show at the end of the day. Blue collar type work like fixing a roof, repairing my own plumbing, or replacing an electrical system are immensely satisfying to me. The two careers I've had, in IT and writing contracts, both have very little to show for your effort. In fact, I'd go as far as to say the only way I know that I've done my job is that more work keeps happening.

I think that's part of why FIRE as a concept was so appealing to me. I make decent money doing this, but it's soul crushing to do. I tolerate it to get me towards the goal of never having to do it again.

Agreed.  I enjoyed turning wrenches far more, than when I was a training director for a 20 store chain of maintenance facilities.  Funny,  Just prior to making the decision to FIRE, I worked for a small aviation company helping the techs with aircraft maintenance, cleaning and moving aircraft, refueling, etc.  Always loved to get my hands dirty, and see something from start, to a definite end.  Clock out, forget about work til the next time.

As you say, and I have experienced as well, the paperwork beast is never satisfied and you are in a constant state of doing, never completing.  Sucks. 

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The squishy part of white collar work that I have found a lot of satisfaction in is management/career development/mentoring. I love the feeling of being able to give someone a bit of advice and put them on a other to be successful. The summer intern who thanked me for making his summer experience great. The random person in the hall who said they thought I was a great boss. Those moments are what stick with me.

Mississippi Mudstache

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #25 on: March 05, 2019, 09:08:26 PM »
I really liked this quote from the article, as it encapsulates my complaints with pretty much my entire career (and I realized it just a few years into it).

Quote
The output of white-collar work—algorithms, consulting projects, programmatic advertising campaigns—is more shapeless and often quite invisible. It’s not glib to say that the whiter the collar, the more invisible the product.

I always found myself happier doing something where I had a physical product to show at the end of the day. Blue collar type work like fixing a roof, repairing my own plumbing, or replacing an electrical system are immensely satisfying to me. The two careers I've had, in IT and writing contracts, both have very little to show for your effort. In fact, I'd go as far as to say the only way I know that I've done my job is that more work keeps happening.

I think that's part of why FIRE as a concept was so appealing to me. I make decent money doing this, but it's soul crushing to do. I tolerate it to get me towards the goal of never having to do it again.

I just had to wipe a tear from my eye, because 1) I agree completely, and 2) I have about 10 more years of this shit to go.

mm1970

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2019, 11:46:13 AM »
I really liked this quote from the article, as it encapsulates my complaints with pretty much my entire career (and I realized it just a few years into it).

Quote
The output of white-collar work—algorithms, consulting projects, programmatic advertising campaigns—is more shapeless and often quite invisible. It’s not glib to say that the whiter the collar, the more invisible the product.

I always found myself happier doing something where I had a physical product to show at the end of the day. Blue collar type work like fixing a roof, repairing my own plumbing, or replacing an electrical system are immensely satisfying to me. The two careers I've had, in IT and writing contracts, both have very little to show for your effort. In fact, I'd go as far as to say the only way I know that I've done my job is that more work keeps happening.

I think that's part of why FIRE as a concept was so appealing to me. I make decent money doing this, but it's soul crushing to do. I tolerate it to get me towards the goal of never having to do it again.

I just had to wipe a tear from my eye, because 1) I agree completely, and 2) I have about 10 more years of this shit to go.
Yep.  I was in a convo this weekend at the gym with a geologist asking me questions on when I last did hands-on engineering.  About 4 years ago?  I miss it.  She suggested that it's not too late...sounds like her company (which cleans up contaminated manufacturing sites) may have openings.  Hmm...

Malkynn

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #27 on: March 07, 2019, 09:08:48 AM »
I really liked this quote from the article, as it encapsulates my complaints with pretty much my entire career (and I realized it just a few years into it).

Quote
The output of white-collar work—algorithms, consulting projects, programmatic advertising campaigns—is more shapeless and often quite invisible. It’s not glib to say that the whiter the collar, the more invisible the product.

I always found myself happier doing something where I had a physical product to show at the end of the day. Blue collar type work like fixing a roof, repairing my own plumbing, or replacing an electrical system are immensely satisfying to me. The two careers I've had, in IT and writing contracts, both have very little to show for your effort. In fact, I'd go as far as to say the only way I know that I've done my job is that more work keeps happening.

I think that's part of why FIRE as a concept was so appealing to me. I make decent money doing this, but it's soul crushing to do. I tolerate it to get me towards the goal of never having to do it again.

I'm the opposite.
In my various responsibilities I do both very hands-on and very white-collar "squishy". The satisfaction of the immediate deliverables of the manual hands-on work got pretty old after a few years, meanwhile, the broader impact of the white collar "squishy" work is where I feel extremely satisfied.

I am moving more and more into a professional space where I can have an impact just by having an enjoyable conversation. The manual work, while prestigious, challenging, and interesting, often feels like slave labour.

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #28 on: March 07, 2019, 09:51:05 AM »
I really liked this quote from the article, as it encapsulates my complaints with pretty much my entire career (and I realized it just a few years into it).

Quote
The output of white-collar work—algorithms, consulting projects, programmatic advertising campaigns—is more shapeless and often quite invisible. It’s not glib to say that the whiter the collar, the more invisible the product.

I always found myself happier doing something where I had a physical product to show at the end of the day. Blue collar type work like fixing a roof, repairing my own plumbing, or replacing an electrical system are immensely satisfying to me. The two careers I've had, in IT and writing contracts, both have very little to show for your effort. In fact, I'd go as far as to say the only way I know that I've done my job is that more work keeps happening.

I think that's part of why FIRE as a concept was so appealing to me. I make decent money doing this, but it's soul crushing to do. I tolerate it to get me towards the goal of never having to do it again.

I'm the opposite.
In my various responsibilities I do both very hands-on and very white-collar "squishy". The satisfaction of the immediate deliverables of the manual hands-on work got pretty old after a few years, meanwhile, the broader impact of the white collar "squishy" work is where I feel extremely satisfied.

I am moving more and more into a professional space where I can have an impact just by having an enjoyable conversation. The manual work, while prestigious, challenging, and interesting, often feels like slave labour.

In 2009 I was a test engineer in the aerospace industry. Moving around equipment, setting it up, testing flight hardware, writing test procedures/plans, reports, etc. Mix of in-office, test floor, and environmental/EMI lab work. Left that place and went to another company to do more of the same but supervise employees and also deal with internal customer meetings. Got a decent pay rise. Left that in 2010, moved into ruggedized system integration of COTS IT components. Switched within months to working on virtualization tech, now doing cloud work, just sitting at a desk at home or customer site.

My pay has increased by 120% since leaving that employer in 2009. Picked up relevant certifications along the way, reimbursed by employer. Just because I have a BSEE+MSEE doesn't mean it's the end of learning.

I was fortunate that I was able to connect data points on technologies and move my career in the $$$ direction. I have college friends who I'm out-earning by 50% as they are in a static field while mine is dynamically changing. It's not a brag; I've told them to look at switching careers, it's never too late. We have ex-telco techs who retrained themselves into network and sys admins. We have ex-military guys who learnt on the job and studied for certs out-earning engineers with Master's degrees working at the local power utility.

If you stay at the same employer hoping to get big raises, you're fudge packed, but you're be the ideal employee. Companies have a reason to keep costs low, that means you ain't getting that "hoping for change" raises. So stay and work and stay miserable. Or make a change and go to companies with awesome work-life balance. Yes they do exist (my current and previous employers). Change comes from within. Actions speak louder than words.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2019, 09:52:53 AM by jinga nation »

Mississippi Mudstache

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #29 on: March 07, 2019, 10:38:50 AM »
I really liked this quote from the article, as it encapsulates my complaints with pretty much my entire career (and I realized it just a few years into it).

Quote
The output of white-collar work—algorithms, consulting projects, programmatic advertising campaigns—is more shapeless and often quite invisible. It’s not glib to say that the whiter the collar, the more invisible the product.

I always found myself happier doing something where I had a physical product to show at the end of the day. Blue collar type work like fixing a roof, repairing my own plumbing, or replacing an electrical system are immensely satisfying to me. The two careers I've had, in IT and writing contracts, both have very little to show for your effort. In fact, I'd go as far as to say the only way I know that I've done my job is that more work keeps happening.

I think that's part of why FIRE as a concept was so appealing to me. I make decent money doing this, but it's soul crushing to do. I tolerate it to get me towards the goal of never having to do it again.

I'm the opposite.
In my various responsibilities I do both very hands-on and very white-collar "squishy". The satisfaction of the immediate deliverables of the manual hands-on work got pretty old after a few years, meanwhile, the broader impact of the white collar "squishy" work is where I feel extremely satisfied.

I am moving more and more into a professional space where I can have an impact just by having an enjoyable conversation. The manual work, while prestigious, challenging, and interesting, often feels like slave labour.

It's good that there are people like you around. I don't get the same joy out of white collar work. I get home from my job as a consultant irritable, headachy, and exhausted. Meanwhile, this past Saturday, I spent the morning fixing a plumbing issue in our basement, then all afternoon with a chainsaw cleaning up some trees that had fallen in the forest behind our house. I finished sore and exhausted, but after a cold shower I was re-energized and euphoric. I was a much more pleasant person to be around that evening compared to how I feel after a day of database management or interpersonal work.

fattest_foot

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #30 on: March 07, 2019, 10:44:06 AM »
I'm the opposite.
In my various responsibilities I do both very hands-on and very white-collar "squishy". The satisfaction of the immediate deliverables of the manual hands-on work got pretty old after a few years, meanwhile, the broader impact of the white collar "squishy" work is where I feel extremely satisfied.

I am moving more and more into a professional space where I can have an impact just by having an enjoyable conversation. The manual work, while prestigious, challenging, and interesting, often feels like slave labour.

That's actually something I never considered. Maybe my enjoyment of projects with a "product" at the end (which I typically associate with blue collar work) is because of the novelty of it. I only get as much satisfaction out of it because it's still in "hobby" territory. Even though I don't particularly like having to repair roof shingles, it's still satisfying.

Although, I've also always said that for most people, anything you do for "work" you'll eventually start to resent. If I love painting but I have a boss and have to clock in 8-9 hours a day, with only 2 days off a week, I'll probably quickly learn to hate painting.

MoMan

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #31 on: March 07, 2019, 12:02:33 PM »
A lot of people are just insecure - they need to get praise to think that they are validated and belong.

Clearly you worked with my former coworker, who was also a perpetual victim. Of everything.

driftwood

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #32 on: March 07, 2019, 02:51:21 PM »
I take issue with this statement:

" What’s more, in a recent Pew Research report on the epidemic of youth anxiety, 95 percent of teens said “having a job or career they enjoy” would be “extremely or very important” to them as an adult. This ranked higher than any other priority, including “helping other people who are in need” (81 percent) or getting married (47 percent). Finding meaning at work beats family and kindness as the top ambition of today’s young people."

I'm going to put on my Ayn Rand hat: I have always been a firm believer in putting your own oxygen mask on first. If I have a great job I love and enjoy, I'll probably have enough money to help people that don't have enough and find a partner along the way. There is nothing wrong with wanting a job you love. If it happens to pay well, all the better.

I think the statement you posted is comparing apples to oranges. When asked about a job or career I enjoy I think of years and years in that job or career. Maybe most of the years of the rest of my life. When you ask about getting married... that's a one-day event. Or if you look at it a little broader, it could include a few years of courtship. When you ask about helping people in need, I think the mental image is sporadic events throughout our life. So if you asked me to compare all of those things, I'd rate having a career I enjoy as the most important. I'd rate it that way not out of selfishness, but because I'm comparing 40ish years of working five days a week almost every week with a few years of dating then getting married, or with helping others sometimes. If a teen looks back at their life to get some context for the question, they might think about spending the last 13 years in school, going on some dates, and sometimes doing things to help people. No wonder they would think that of the three things in that question, the one where you spend most of the rest of your life is the most important.

A better question might be comparing priorities of a "career you enjoy" with "a marriage you enjoy".

I know some people spend their whole lives helping others, but I don't think it's commonly thought of as a thing you could be doing 5 days a week until retirement (for comparison purposes).

Malkynn

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #33 on: March 07, 2019, 02:52:42 PM »
I'm the opposite.
In my various responsibilities I do both very hands-on and very white-collar "squishy". The satisfaction of the immediate deliverables of the manual hands-on work got pretty old after a few years, meanwhile, the broader impact of the white collar "squishy" work is where I feel extremely satisfied.

I am moving more and more into a professional space where I can have an impact just by having an enjoyable conversation. The manual work, while prestigious, challenging, and interesting, often feels like slave labour.

That's actually something I never considered. Maybe my enjoyment of projects with a "product" at the end (which I typically associate with blue collar work) is because of the novelty of it. I only get as much satisfaction out of it because it's still in "hobby" territory. Even though I don't particularly like having to repair roof shingles, it's still satisfying.

Although, I've also always said that for most people, anything you do for "work" you'll eventually start to resent. If I love painting but I have a boss and have to clock in 8-9 hours a day, with only 2 days off a week, I'll probably quickly learn to hate painting.

Hmm...maybe.

However, I have the advantage that the more "squishy" work that I do is all exactly what I want to be doing. I've invented these jobs for myself and they have no responsibilities that I don't want to do. I set my own terms and do my own thing and I get paid for it.

It's easy to enjoy something that you've designed for yourself from scratch, even if it is still "work"

ysette9

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I take issue with this statement:

" What’s more, in a recent Pew Research report on the epidemic of youth anxiety, 95 percent of teens said “having a job or career they enjoy” would be “extremely or very important” to them as an adult. This ranked higher than any other priority, including “helping other people who are in need” (81 percent) or getting married (47 percent). Finding meaning at work beats family and kindness as the top ambition of today’s young people."

I'm going to put on my Ayn Rand hat: I have always been a firm believer in putting your own oxygen mask on first. If I have a great job I love and enjoy, I'll probably have enough money to help people that don't have enough and find a partner along the way. There is nothing wrong with wanting a job you love. If it happens to pay well, all the better.

I think the statement you posted is comparing apples to oranges. When asked about a job or career I enjoy I think of years and years in that job or career. Maybe most of the years of the rest of my life. When you ask about getting married... that's a one-day event. Or if you look at it a little broader, it could include a few years of courtship. When you ask about helping people in need, I think the mental image is sporadic events throughout our life. So if you asked me to compare all of those things, I'd rate having a career I enjoy as the most important. I'd rate it that way not out of selfishness, but because I'm comparing 40ish years of working five days a week almost every week with a few years of dating then getting married, or with helping others sometimes. If a teen looks back at their life to get some context for the question, they might think about spending the last 13 years in school, going on some dates, and sometimes doing things to help people. No wonder they would think that of the three things in that question, the one where you spend most of the rest of your life is the most important.

A better question might be comparing priorities of a "career you enjoy" with "a marriage you enjoy".

I know some people spend their whole lives helping others, but I don't think it's commonly thought of as a thing you could be doing 5 days a week until retirement (for comparison purposes).
This makes no sense to me. A job is something I do 40 hours a week (hopefully no more) where I have spent the last 18 years dating and then being married to my husband. I am married 24/7. I am not married just for my wedding or on the occasional date night. It is the most important thing in my life (okay, on par with our kids) and by far  the most significant factor in whether I am happy in my life.

I love it when I have job satisfaction and it is true that it is a real drag when work sucks. A happy marriage is this critical foundation underneath all of that though. If that isn’t strong then no amount of cool work can make up for it.

That said, as a teen a relationship wasn’t really on my radar and I’m sure I would have prioritized career. It just wasn’t within my realm of imagination how much satisfaction I could get out of a good marriage and how much that improves all the other aspects of my life.

mm1970

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #35 on: March 08, 2019, 10:23:37 AM »
Quote
I love it when I have job satisfaction and it is true that it is a real drag when work sucks. A happy marriage is this critical foundation underneath all of that though. If that isn’t strong then no amount of cool work can make up for it.

That said, as a teen a relationship wasn’t really on my radar and I’m sure I would have prioritized career. It just wasn’t within my realm of imagination how much satisfaction I could get out of a good marriage and how much that improves all the other aspects of my life.

One of the ways that I think about it is this:

Companies, for the most part, don't really give a shit about you.  If they need to cut headcount, and you are deemed too expensive, not useful enough, too old, or just "in the wrong group", you are out.  Marriage, in general, shouldn't work that way.  (Yes, marriages end. People change, drift apart, etc.)

Happy marriage WAY more important than career.  I can change my career/ job if needed.  Much less painfully than divorcing.

driftwood

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Re: Article: "Workism is making Americans Miserable" (The Atlantic)
« Reply #36 on: March 08, 2019, 10:44:48 AM »
Quote
I love it when I have job satisfaction and it is true that it is a real drag when work sucks. A happy marriage is this critical foundation underneath all of that though. If that isn’t strong then no amount of cool work can make up for it.

That said, as a teen a relationship wasn’t really on my radar and I’m sure I would have prioritized career. It just wasn’t within my realm of imagination how much satisfaction I could get out of a good marriage and how much that improves all the other aspects of my life.

One of the ways that I think about it is this:

Companies, for the most part, don't really give a shit about you.  If they need to cut headcount, and you are deemed too expensive, not useful enough, too old, or just "in the wrong group", you are out.  Marriage, in general, shouldn't work that way.  (Yes, marriages end. People change, drift apart, etc.)

Happy marriage WAY more important than career.  I can change my career/ job if needed.  Much less painfully than divorcing.

I don't disagree with this or the post above it. I was more pointing out the semantics of the questions and the target audience. 

I believe it would be fair to ask which you prioritize higher: getting a job or getting married. But saying having a career you like vs getting married compares (in my mind) a long-term situation that exists vs a one-day event in your life. Yes, we can all read into that question and realize they probably include all the years of love, commitment, and challenges that exist in a marriage, not just 'getting married'.


ysette9

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I think to make the point you are arguing you should really use the term “have a wedding” which is a one day event in life. “Getting married” is the first day of what, in theory, should last for the rest of your life.