Working Too Much
Otherwise known as working
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I know a guy who works way too much. He’s not the only person I know who works way too much (everyone else I know just works too much) but at the moment he is who I’m thinking of. I think he pretty much works all the time. Every time I talk to him, even on weekends, he is working. Today he told me that his eyeballs hurt from working.
I said to him, you work too much, you need to work less, it’s not good for you.
Is there a solution, in our current reality?
Profits rule, and no company is going to go against its own ethos and no company has a different ethos, because they can’t, because even if they “wanted to,” or had “core values” that were about “people,” profitability hinges on workers producing more value than their wages pay for, and at this particular moment in America’s trajectory, it is more difficult to make profits so guess what increases? The amount of time people work.
Basically, this guy is alive, and therefore working way too much.
There might be individual situations where people have found a way around this, but this is how it is for most people and at least this guy gets paid Ok because most people don’t.
In his case, and in the case of people I know who work way too much, there are things that need to get done and if they do not do them, they don’t get done. There’s rarely a case where a person can decide to do less work and still be said by their bosses to be “doing their job.” And there’s never a good time to be unavailable:
Sadly, sometimes work is the only thing in the world that makes sense, and the only place many people are praised, even if being itself there is an insult. I myself have relied on work to escape despair about truly awful things and this saddens me.
There are so many books on burnout right now. One is subtitled “The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle.” Is the secret “not having a job?” because I don’t know that there’s another key to “unlock the stress cycle.” I’ll admit it. I haven’t read the book and will not be doing so. But a capsule review of this book says it “enabl[es] positive change within our lives within our respective means,” which, as far as I’m concerned is just a fancy way of saying “go fuck yourself.”
I felt bad after telling my friend he should work less. I am sure he knows this and would love to. And these books are basically taking the same stance, they’re like, hey, you got this, you can do it, you can take control of your life. But when I look at most of the people I know who work way too much — and this includes unpaid care and house and keeping communities alive and safe work, as well as waged work, and includes most of the people I know — I don’t see how they can take control of their lives and work at the same time. And of course if they don’t work they can’t live anywhere or buy food and if they stop caring for people those people have no one else to do it.
So why do people write these books about how to do this impossible thing? Because it’s their job!
Recently I wrote about soap operas and sickness and how many small croissants a woman is supposed to eat if she has any self-respect at all. I also wrote about wordle.