Narratives and Bullshit Jobs

Listening to a great speech is  a wonderful way to start the day – after a grand total of 2 pushups!  Deconstructing Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Danger of a Single Story” into a storytelling pattern was the icing on the cake (the phrase because my dear friend AJW is sharing pictures and ideas for their wedding cake!)

Narratives and stories have a powerful hold over everything we do, and in ways we don’t imagine. Listening to several people today, I was reminded how much everything around us is made up, and the social construct that allows us to live the fiction we want for ourselves. Money is the one we’ve all strongly bought into, and the narratives are powerful enough to divide us, despite how much we all collectively share in common.

A new year brings with it new narratives (?) or at least that’s how I’m seeing things, my own narrative about new year narratives. Corporate honchos are all back this week everywhere, and I see posts on that corporate social media about how the ‘new normal’ is here, and we’ve ‘learned to live with it’ and the wonderful things ‘we will accomplish this year’ and how it’s only possible through ‘collaboration and working as one team’. On the other hand, the narrative from the staff worker is wanting to ‘get out of this rat race’, and ‘do something on my own’, and ‘I don’t know what that is but this isn’t it’. I miss David Graeber and take solace around this time of year in his article in Strike Magazine titled “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs“:

Real, productive workers are relentlessly squeezed and exploited. The remainder are divided between a terrorised stratum of the, universally reviled, unemployed and a larger stratum who are basically paid to do nothing, in positions designed to make them identify with the perspectives and sensibilities of the ruling class (managers, administrators, etc.)—and particularly its financial avatars—but, at the same time, foster a simmering resentment against anyone whose work has clear and undeniable social value.