Since it has become part of my daily life I would like to describe once again my thoughts about coping with bullshit labor. Bullshit jobs, to me, are characterized by a complete lack of meaning. No matter how hard you try, you can’t discern a core of value in a bullshit job, and this is after you have discussed the idea that ‘meaning is subjective anyway’.
They are something else than nasty tasks you don’t like to perform, such as, say, garbage collecting. If you are employed in such a profession, you probably know it has a purpose. The world would be worse off without garbage collectors, a glance at strikes in Napoli will reassure you. The same argument could be made for miners, soldiers, factory workers to the extent that they are able to choose their profession freely.
But not for bullshit jobs. You recognize a bullshit job because the people performing it cannot believe the world is any better off with the existence of the company they are working for. It is not about the inevitable ‘boring’ work that comes with any job (such as a lecturer’s administration). There is nothing that can redeem the boring task. No cleaner world, no rescued children, no advancement of science, no more beautiful world our hearts believe in.
The bullshit job is an illness of capitalism that has become too fast for our culture. It is an occupation that generates profit by leveraging old inefficiencies and habits. The world would be better off when the entire realm, everything they stand for, would disappear overnight.
And still, I do it. I am a bullshit job survivor.
Performing a bullshit job is a mind numbing experience. I cope by relabeling a job session as a music session and listen to music while I type away (bullshit jobs, as a rule, require very little creativity and concentration). Listening to a Mozart sonata while typing away on my keyboard (I believe these keystrokes add up to translations and websites and marketing copy) can actually become a somewhat fulfilling experience. If I’m in the mood, I can identify with the virtuoso at the real keyboard. I am Brendel or Barenboim, while the bullshit job ‘generates’ (that is the core illusion) about one dollar per minute.
It is still devoid of any meaning, but it might be as good as it gets.