With Coronavirus deaths continuing to increase world-wide, the U.S. death toll now approaching 160,000, and our economy in free fall, it may be difficult to recognize the positive things that the Covid-19 crisis is trying to teach us. Here, I’ll share a few that I see:
- This is a wake-up call for all of humankind. Humans have been on a self-destructive path and we now have a chance to turn things around.
- We can change our beliefs that we are masters of the universe and all other life must bend to our will or die. That would be like the brain taking charge of the body and imposing its will on our kidneys, lungs, and hearts.
- Closing down our industrial economy, even for a short time, has demonstrated that we have the will to reverse the global climate crisis and save the world for future generations.
- Our divided government can actually come together to share our collective wealth with citizens who are unable to work. As automation continues to increase joblessness, we can adjust our economy accordingly.
- Eliminating bullshit jobs will free people to return to work that is meaningful and helpful for the well-being of humanity and other living creatures on planet Earth.
David Graeber is professor of anthropology at the London School of Economics. In the spring of 2013, he asked a provocative question. “Does your job make a meaningful contribution to the world?” His essay, On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs went viral and his subsequent book, Bullshit Jobs: A Theory, continues to make waves.
He reminds us that “crises tend to reveal unacknowledged truths.” For instance, he says,
“In 2008 we learned that the majority of the financial wizards we had been taught to treat with awe for the previous two decades were, in fact, little more than scam artists — and rather clumsy ones, at that.”
Addressing our present crisis, he tells us,
“The coronavirus, and resulting lockdowns, is teaching us an even more startling lesson: that a very large portion of what we call ‘the economy’ is little more than just another scam.”
Those with the power to do the most harm are rewarded most, while those who do the most good are rewarded least.”
So, what are “bullshit jobs?” According to Graeber,
“Bullshit jobs are jobs which even the person doing the job can’t really justify the existence of, but they have to pretend that there’s some reason for it to exist. That’s the bullshit element.”
Graeber contrasts bullshit jobs with shit jobs. He says of the latter,
“Bad jobs are bad because they’re hard or they have terrible conditions or the pay sucks, but often these jobs are very useful. In fact, in our society, often the more useful the work is, the less they pay you. Whereas bullshit jobs are often highly respected and pay well but are completely pointless, and the people doing them know this.”
A review of the book on Amazon makes the point:
“This review was written at the desk of a salaried office job, where I am paid $65,000/year to do virtually nothing important, so I mostly sit in my chair and listen to podcasts and audiobooks all day. I do this until enough executives and managers above me are gone that I can feel comfortable sneaking out. With my income from this, I then outsource all my chores to a slew of below living wage 21st Century gig economy employees–Uber drivers, food delivery, meal kits, laundry.”
I’ve never had a bullshit job, but I’ve had a few shit jobs, which I’d like to forget. But the times are creating an opportunity to do away with bullshit jobs and support work that really makes a difference in the world. In his book, Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build The Ideal World, historian Rutger Bregman says, “In a survey of 12,000 professionals by the Harvard Business Review, half said they felt their job had no ‘meaning and significance.’”
Everyone wants a meaningful life and work that makes a difference in the world. What would happen if we freed people from bullshit jobs that make a lot of money, but harm the person and our world? As the Coronavirus forces us to open up, then shut down, many jobs, we have an opportunity to give up the bullshit work in favor of jobs with real meaning. “In a world that’s getting ever richer,” says Bregman, “where cows produce more milk and robots produce more stuff, there’s more room for friends, family, community service, science, art, sports, and all other things that make life worthwhile.”
Are You Ready to Join the Real Work Revolution?
Let’s eliminate bullshit jobs in favor of jobs that are meaningful and helpful. It seems to me that one area of meaningful work that is sorely needed these days is “people work.” Everywhere we look, people’s fear level is increasing. It expresses itself most often in irritability, anger, and depression. Men, in particular, seem to be suffering and their suffering impacts the women and children in their lives.
In my books, The Irritable Male Syndrome: Understanding and Managing the 4 Key Causes of Depression and Aggression and Mr. Mean: Saving Your Relationship from The Irritable Male Syndrome, I offer a program to heal the wounds that causes so many men and their families to break down and so many marriages to fall apart.
The need for people to be trained in “people work” has never been more important than it is now. I’ve decided to offer a certification and training program for 25 men and women who would like to expand their work in the world and who would like to help more, earn more, and have a career that can be part of the real work revolution in the post Covid-19 world. If you’d like more information about this training which will begin in September, drop me a note to Jed@MenAlive.com (be sure and respond to my spamarrest filter when emailing me for the first time) and put “People work” in the subject line. To get more information about the training and to get an application, come join me here.
Also, if you’d like to talk to directly to me, I’m happy to jump on a Zoom call or phone you directly. Oh, and one last thing. These 25 will be the only men and women I will ever train, certify, and mentor. So, if this resonates with you, get in touch now.
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