Perspectives on Work

As for me, I was so bored today that I took care of the last bit of time-is-NOT-of-the-essence filing that I have been saving for a rainy day, also known as a day where I could theoretically spend all of the nine hours I am here fucking off on the Internet. So now, with that reserve of work done, well, I am going to go get some paper towels and clean my desk off. And then, I guess, more Internet.

I hate fucking off on the Internet. Putting aside politics and my feelings towards my company, my boss, and our clients, it sucks doing nothing all day. When I was 22 or so I thought it was funny. But this sucks. Anybody who wishes, for whatever reason, that they had nothing to do, seriously undervalues life. And this is not some protestant work ethic bullshit either. Even laying in a field looking at the clouds is a lot more of something than what I have done today.

I don't know if anyone else has made this argument. Probably. But I will, just in case. Fucking off on the Internet, though it may cost a company some productivity, may also increase worker discipline. It almost does with me. Why? When I fuck off on the Internet, I am inevitable lead to reading about and researching stuff. New synthesizers. New records. New pots and pans to replace the ones my roommates have scorched. And when I want something, I start thinking about how much it will cost to get it. I think about this in terms of paychecks, in terms of weeks. I budget, and I budget based on the amount of money I currently earn and I come to the edge of losing my sense of urgency about leaving this place, if only to ensure that I can have that thing that I want. Of course I catch myself. At least in terms of the connection between the need for stuff and the fact that I don't need to stay at this particular job in order to feed that need. As for the need itself...

I used to think, right around the time when I first ran into Marx, that there was some power that could be brought to bear via consumerism against capital. That buying smart was some kind of subversion of the wastefulness of consumer society. That buying smart on a grand scale would slowly but surely weed out the companies that poison us, the companies that compensate their workers unfairly, etc. Perhaps I could ascribe that view to the fact that, as an eighteen year old who had just moved to New York (I was back in DC six months later), I was having a hard time reconciling my politics with the vast and, honestly, exciting expanse of New York's commercial landscape. I was supporting myself for the first time and suddenly there was all of this stuff to buy, some of it necessary, even. But I lost those illusions quickly.

The ideal of the educated consumer is not an ideal subversive to capitalism, but rather its apotheosis. To be an educated consumer is to ascribe even higher value to the act of purchasing. It demands increased participation in the marketplace. While one may think that they are placing a higher burden on companies to produce products of better quality, in reality, it is the consumer that takes on the higher burden. Each purchase becomes almost an existential question. And as more people are compelled to think more about the purchases they make, those thoughts (with a little assistance from marketing and the politics of lifestyle) lead them to divergent places, allowing a more diverse marketplace of products to be supported, and therefore demanding even more research on the part of the consumer.

And yet, here I am, on the Internet, looking at saucepans.

It's obvious that the only solution is to run in the other direction on the treadmill, for that is the only way off.

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