Dry November: Day 11

November 11, 2018

After brunch we discussed the crisis of meaning in work, one recently mentioned in the Harvard Business Review, whose survey found that 90% of people would take a paycut for more meaningful work. My friend, without having read Graeber’s book Bullshit Jobs, had independently observed the inverse relationship between meaning in a job and compensation. Carers, for example, are paid poorly in part because there’s a feeling that they “get” to do more meaningful work, and executives are overcompensated in part because their work is so soul-destroying. This is deeply problematic, morally, of course.

There is also a relationship between working and drinking. The artificial stress of office work (I think Graeber goes so far as to call it something like “arbitrary violence”) rarely correlates with actual lives on the line, or even anything remotely serious. Drinking seems both to relieve the stress as well as the lack of meaning.

We all felt a need for increased intellectual engagement. She said that our monthly book club was maybe her favourite part of London life. So why not try to increase the intellectual aspect of our lives, foster engagement rather than the disengagement of drinking? We were thinking of hosting more events around art, music, articles, etc, a sort of more multimedia book club, or even a series of speakers. I’m not sure how well this would work, but I think it’s worth trying.

Bryan Kam

I'm Bryan Kam. I'm thinking about complexity and selfhood. Please sign up to my newsletter, follow me on Mastodon, or see more here.