For the times when it feels like a lot of people are doing a whole lot of nothing; an anthropology professor looks at why, with the rise and rise of automation, are we all not working 15 hour weeks by now? Why are we all stuck doing pointless clerical bullshit for 80 hours a week? (Warning for 1990s-level awful webpage design at the link, of tiny black monospaced font on bright yellow background sort.)

For the record, my day job is of the “bullshit job” variety outlined here, in that I don’t specifically make something so much as I facilitate other people to make something. And even then, the purpose of what those people are making is very far removed from, a) the outcome, and b) the reason that outcome was desired in the first place. But such is the hyper-specialisation of the modern world. My individual job is a tiny–one might even say “bullshit”–cog… but it’s a bullshit cog in a machine which touches the lives of everyone in the country.1

Compare-and-contrast with my writing, which while it’s not “necessary” in any sense of the word, at least produces an immediate tangible outcome in a way my day job doesn’t. Ironically, on the other hand, it produces an immediate tangible outcome thanks in no small part to the efforts of hundreds of other people who do, in fact, for want of a better word, have “bullshit jobs”.

So while I don’t disagree with the article–particularly the class warfare sections about remuneration between “bullshit” and “non-bullshit” work–I think things are a teensy bit more complex than it implies.

Sign me up for one of those 15 hour weeks, though.

  1. Literally so. This is not hyperbole-for-effect. []