Work Sucks: 89 Reasons Why Work Is Absolute Cancer
While we’ve already told you plenty of reasons why school sucks, what about what happens next? Have fun in modern capitalism as you, too, get to experience the 89 reasons work is absolute cancer! And remember: you’re there forever.
1. Soul-Crushing Boredom
Why not start with the most obvious? For almost all of us, “work” is a nonstop exercise in excruciating, mind-numbing and often pointless boredom.
To quote a famous fictional crusader against the inanities of workaday life: “Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements!”
It’s not just office land, though – You haven’t experienced the deepest levels of boredom until you’ve experienced blue collar boredom. Just imagine what it’s like to stand for 10+ hours at a conveyor belt, sorting cherries into bins with no music, nothing to look at, no one to talk to, and hardly any downtime (can’t let them cherries spoil, after all); just the cold, cold water running endlessly over your fingers as you work hard to prevent white suburban ladies from having the traumatic experience of finding a cherry with two pits, or slight discoloration.
Or standing in the freezing cold for two hours, because the other guy who was supposed to come with the truck and the power sander is running late.
Or finding yourself in the middle of a featureless dirt field in the middle of South Dakota, wishing a cloud would form in the sky to give you something to look at.
Or… Or… Or…
Why is it that our society can’t create employment that doesn’t amount to more than bullshit jobs? Why is it that we spend more than eight hours of each day stir crazy because of the pointless, repetitive, uninteresting tasks before us? Tasks that exist only to make someone else richer.
It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. There are meaningful, engaging jobs out there. Unfortunately, they seem to be few and far between, and what’s worse, our dismal education system is not only going to fail to help anyone find them, or prepare a path to them – it actively works against it!
Building an economic system obsessed only with growth and accumulation at the expense of all other outcomes and human values was a recipe for this Gilliam-esque situation we the little people now find ourselves in. Perhaps we should take a cue from the Amish, or the Mondragon Corporation, in how to create systems that work for people, and don’t stuff their lives with empty hours and stupefying boredom.
Maybe we could all take a cue from the brave few who struck out on their own path and found a way out of the Matrix…
2. Mission Statements
Speaking of mission statements – ever stopped to think about how much they suck?
“Mission statements” are things your boss learned about in a cash fraud scheme called “Business School” – rather, something he kind of heard about between doing blow and harassing women on Daddy’s dime. They’re the banal slogans (often in a.c.r.o.n.y.m.n. Form) hung over the front entrance, or hot-pressed onto your company issued coffee mug.
They’re the essentially meaningless, empty exhortations to “excellence” loaded with buzzwords, feel-good phrases devoid of substance, and painfully unclever portmanteaus. Most of us had early experiences with these in middle or high school, as public school administrators are largely cut from the same cloth as mid-level managers.
Why bother with something that no one cares about, no one reads, no one bothers to internalize (unless they’re told they’ll be quizzed on it!), no one uses as a compass for the direction of their work, and no one will remember when the next empty bromide is poured over everyone’s head by the next boob they hire to watch the peons?
All it accomplishes is to add to the oppressive atmosphere of work, and remind you that everything you do there is essentially meaningless.
3. You’ll Never Be Paid What You’re Worth
This one is such common knowledge that it might seem pointless even to include it. But it bears repeating.
No matter how good you are at what you do, or how indispensable you are to the operations of your employer, so long as you work for someone else and not yourself, you’ll never be paid the full value of your labor.
You don’t need to be a Marxist to see this in action. The hardest working or most innovative people at your job bust their butts to add more value to the enterprise, only to (more often than not) remain stuck in their role, unappreciated save for, perhaps, some token display of “thanks” (a lunch at a pretentious burger place with the boss, a plastic trophy from the Dollar Store, a “certificate of accomplishment” – remember how much you cared about those back in school?).
Sure, a lucky few might get a promotion down the road, or maybe a small bonus, but when compared with the value you yourself could easily calculate that’s been added to the company, versus what you or whoever else actually received as a “reward,” you’ll see you’re playing a fool’s game.
If not, then how do you explain the experience of H. Tracy Hall, the creator of the first industrial diamond?
Why are you spending the best, healthiest and most potential-laden years of your life making someone else richer? Someone who, in all likelihood, you would never, ever associate with voluntarily if it weren’t for the fact you needed money and health insurance?
4. Annoying, Dull, Creepy or Even Dangerous Coworkers
5. Annoying, Dull, Creepy or Even Dangerous Bosses
Remember that time producer Harvey Weinstein (allegedly!) tried to kill Uma Thurman after she wouldn’t sleep with him, by having his henchmen rig a stunt car so it would spin out of control as it sped across a bumby unpaved road in the middle of a banana plantation, in hopes of blowing her into a thousand, fiery pieces under “accidental circumstances? Well me neither!
6. It Makes You Realize What a Waste Your “Education” Was
You were told so many things.
You were told you would need algebra and Roman numerals if you were to succeed in the adult world. You were told that your grades and standardized test scores would determine your life path, and either reward you with riches if you jumped through the designated hoops, or condemn you to poverty and shame.
What you were told were lies.
The truth of the matter was that none of these things, while perhaps interesting unto themselves, or applicable to specific tasks a small minority of people will have to engage in over the course of their adult lives, for the most part, almost everything you devoted your childhood and teen years (and perhaps longer if you were suckered into grad school), was a complete waste of time. You could have been out fishing, teaching yourself to paint or draw, walking across the United States, learning to sail around the world in your own boat, having sex, smoking weed, growing a garden to support your family or create a cottage business, taking care of lonely and vulnerable animals in a shelter, or any other of the nearly infinite list of meaningful, interesting and fun things people wished they could do, but somehow never find the time, and anyway are too tired and uninspired to do by the time they reach adulthood and actually have an income.
This is not an accident. Our public schools were intentionally designed to serve as internment camps for the young, with the dual purposes of artificially constraining the labor pool (don’t want them kids mucking up our wage contracts and stealing our jerbs!) on the one hand, and producing a docile, unquestioning, robot-like populace that would be amenable to the designs of big business and big government alike.
You wasted the best years of your life on things that didn’t really matter in the end. And now, you’re stuck in your precious “job,” earning just enough to get by but never enough to find freedom or fulfillment.
Again, it wasn’t an accident. You just didn’t get wise in time.
7. No Job Security
Once upon a time, at least in America, it was a reasonable assumption for a person just starting out at a job that in 30 years’ time, s/he would still be working under the same name, with largely the same people, with years of raises and promotions pushing him/her comfortably towards a cushy retirement lifestyle bolstered by a company pension and a juicy 401k – with Social Security and Medicare to smooth out any bumps on the ride into the sunset.
Those days are over and not likely to come back.
This is the 21st century, where people are 100% expendable, interchangeable and fungible. Analysts now predict that Millennials will switch jobs at least four times after college age – Generation Z will likely find itself in similar, if not worse waters.
The so-called “gig economy” has taken over, and now a growing number of us don’t even have the luxury of a normal job with fixed hours, pay, and extant if ever-dwindling benefits. Millions of people now support themselves with either a side gig, if not several, whether it be carting people around town in your own car (Uber, Lift, et al), delivering meals for the sick or lazy (Uber Eats, etc.), “internships” that are little more than thinly disguised slavery (if they pay at all), and the like. The race to the bottom never ends, and you can forget about retirement.
All of this is bad enough, but we haven’t even factored in just how ready employers are these days to shitcan people, even if their performance is good. Amazon is notorious for setting wildly unattainable standards high above what they actually desire, all in a ruse to drain every last cent of value from their workers before tossing them onto the street before they would be obliged to promote them or give them a pay bump. Good business… but good for whom?
8. No Hope
Things aren’t going to get better.
That is, things aren’t going to get better until enough of us start looking for meaningful alternatives, or at least standing up for ourselves and our fellow human beings caught in the same uninspiring circumstances we are.
Are you holding your breath now?
Even worse, those of us lucky enough to have snagged one of the ever-dwindling “good” jobs are stuck there, equipped with the knowledge that our dull, pointless, unfulfilling work is the best this world has left to offer us.
The promotion isn’t coming. The dream lifestyle isn’t coming. The “good” job might vanish tomorrow. And all the while the world’s resources deplete as the total human population skyrockets. Do you really need an Isaac Asimov or Richard Wolff to walk you through this?
9. No Fun
On the one hand, it could be fairly said that some employers have tried to improve on this over the last couple decades, at least in the English-speaking world. Were Baby Boomers allowed to wear cool t-shirts at the office, or post memes, or ride around on a scooter in the hallway? I thought not.
On the other hand, have these fairly minor changes really made work into anything less than the prison of boredom it is for most of us?
At least seventy percent of Americans have rated themselves as just “going through the motions” at their job, “checked out.” Not really there.
What a complete fucking disaster.
10. No Life
Once upon a time, a single person could support a family of four or five with his paycheck and attendant benefits.
Think about that. One person, supporting a spouse and two or three kids. All also with dental and health coverage, vacation time, sick leave, parental leave, and a reasonably generous pension waiting for him in his old age.
What’s even more important to keep in mind for this picture, though, is that all of this could be accomplished with the standard 40 – 50 hour work week.
Now, most households are dual-income (if there are even two parents there), with many taking on a second or even third job to supplement income, poor to nonexistent benefits (don’t get sick, peons!), often no vacation time whatsoever, and routine overtime which, despite what the law says, more and more is completely uncompensated.
Most Americans, poor fucks, don’t even get more than 30 minutes for lunch. 30 unpaid minutes that mean you’ll have to stay that much later each day, of course.
That’s not living. That’s slaving.
11. No Flexibility
Want to take a couple weeks off to go surfing in Fiji? Need a couple extra minutes this morning to attend to a child, a leaky faucet, a vicious boner that won’t go away? Hell, do you have a life-threatening flu infection, and you need some time off to recuperate?
Well, fuck you, pissant! Don’t you know your only value is to produce wealth for other people at the lowest price possible?
12. No Family
Medieval peasants, Roman slaves, harsh as their lives were, spent most of their laboring time around members of their family. Thanks to our 9-5 (plus overtime and endless emails), the family has been reduced to a sort of set of dormitory roommates who cross paths every once in a while, maybe watching something on Netflix together, or going out to mini golf that one time. Our closest relationships are with people who sit next to us in front of identical computers. Is it any mystery nobody knows how to relate to one another anymore, can uphold strong relationships, and feels alone and isolated most of the time?
13. Make-Believe Work (Or: “Lol, Why Do We Even Have Jobs Anymore?”)
Do you really believe the trains will run late and cats will stop burying their poo if you stop showing up to your “Associate” position at Build-a-Bear?
Writer David Graeber sounded the alarm on what many had already dimly perceived between the hours of writing copy for Michael Jackson cupcake toppers or providing customer support for someone’s malfunctioning Aneros Prostate Massager: the fact that a lot of what we do in this day in age isn’t important, doesn’t feel meaningful, and amounts to little more than make-work created to prevent a Ponzi scheme economy from sudden, predictable implosion.
Ideally, an increase in productivity and automation would mean more leisure time, more happiness and more economic security for the working people, and in fact we do have the means to achieve this (Seriously, check out the Graeber link. It’s well worth the read.) Instead, we’ve gotten longer hours, stagnant wages, higher cost of living, constant insecurity, and mind-numbing boredom. And don’t even get started on those bosses that tell you to “pretend you’re working” when there’s literally nothing for you to do.
Perhaps we ourselves share in some of the blame. Some argue that if we could learn to be content with less, to grow our own food again, to repair broken items instead of tossing them, and the like, we could get by with a part time job, or something actually valuable that happens to pay less, but we don’t buy this: After all, things like access to health care, security in old age, ability to secure housing, and other essentials have all been needlessly tied to employment, and many of the most socially valuable jobs (animal shelter worker, teacher, etc.) can’t provide many of these things. And if you’re just getting started with your own business or creative project, you can simply forget about those things if you don’t have a ton of money saved up already or a benefactor supporting you.
So, if you can’t make it doing what you love or at least doing something that actually benefits society, you’re stuck biting your lip and taking it again and again.
14. Haunting Reminders of What the Future Holds
15. No Relationship between Quality and Reward
You’re told often by your boss that those who perform best get that bonus, or the promotion, or the corner office.
If your boss is so impartial, so good at figuring out who’s killing it, and who’s slacking… why is it that random selection for promotions has consistently yielded better results than leaving it up to your clueless manager?
It is science!
16. …Except Those Fun Times Where Your Moved from a Role You Were Great in to a Role You Suck At
Ever hear of the Peter Principle? The idea is that people in hierarchical work structures tend to rise into roles they can’t handle or are ill-equipped to do.
Certainly explains a lot about why your workplace is run by numb nuts, doesn’t it?
But remember, it can happen to you, too. There’s nothing worse than working a job you can’t hack. Your choice are: A), stick in it, do a shitty job, feel like a fraud, earn the scorn of those beneath you, and having to decide whether you want to keep doing it and probably end up getting fired or moved, or B), having to ask for your old role back and making yourself look like a fool and a coward. Not a nice place to be.
17. Mandatory Self-Abasement
Forcing a person to confess “crimes” that are either minor or wholly made up, pointing fingers and tearing down a person’s sense of self-worth, and taking away or diminishing credit for any of their accomplishments, is a form of hazing (if not outright torture) used by tyrants and mad scientists to bend victims to their will. How strange that it’s a common exercise not only in job interviews, but also those all-too frequent “performance reviews” that determine whether you’ll get that $0.15 raise after two years, or not.
18. Shitty Canned Music
Do you love generic Christmas muzak so much that you want to hear the same 20 songs played on loop for two months in a row?
Welcome to work, where the damned put in their time for $10.75 an hour.
I’ll bet you can’t wait to have aging Baby Boomers force you to listen to 8 hours daily of Rod Stewart, Elton John, and 1980’s mall music. Bring your own cyanide.
19. Job Interviews
“What would you say your greatest weakness is?”
“If you saw a friend or family member stealing from our company, would you report them?”
“If you could kill yourself right now, would you choose poison or a shotgun blast?”
20. Planned Obsolescence Includes People
Remember, you need to work hard. You need to work hard so the company can earn more money. The company needs to earn more money so it can afford robots. The company needs to be able to afford robots in order to get rid of you after you worked so hard for them.
THE CIRRRRCLE OF LIIIIIIIFE…
21. Insults to Your Intelligence and the English Language
22. Being an Emotional Punching Bag for Disturbed People
Don’t matter if it be your boss or some asshole client, truth is that if you have a “traditional” job, you’re going to spend a large chunk of your life as a vessel for other people’s vitriol.
Everyone has their problems. Everyone brings things into the workplace that have nothing to do with the collective mission. Everyone needs to feel wanted and valued. Healthy people find ways to deal with these things without shitting on their fellow human beings.
Don’t matter. When you slave away in an internment camp for that company dime, you are guaranteed to be the target of someone else’s emotional slings.
We teach children that no one ever deserves to be abused. We tell adults that it’s part of the job. It’s almost as if we set people up for disillusionment on purpose.
23. Superficial Relationships and Fake Friendliness
As Japan’s late 20th century economic boom progressed, sociologists began the study of a strange phenomenon spreading throughout the country, afflicting salesmen and individuals working in the hotel and hospitality industry. The media quickly dubbed it “smiling mask syndrome,” wherein workers who had spent years forcing fake smiles dawn to dusk for their job lost the ability to stop smiling, and were left with permanent, nightmarish grins, their faces forever more twisted into a falsely cheerful mask while a deep depression and sense of emptiness ate away at their insides.
Pressure to fake positivity is huge in much of the work world across industrial consumerist societies the globe. Having to smile and mumble hollow pleasantries to people you otherwise have no connection to and wouldn’t voluntarily spend time with, if it weren’t for the Man hunger-whipping you into doing his bidding, is one of the most exhausting, alienating things a person can do, especially when it happens constantly every hour of every Monday to Friday for years and years and years.
Guess it doesn’t matter what you feel on the inside, or if you mean what you endeavor to communicate through those pearly whites and sugary bromides; it’s all about the surface.
24. Oppressively Ugly Surroundings
Three places have in common drab, lightless, soul-crushing interiors: schools, prisons, and work!
Whether it’s the kind of on-the-nose, concentration camp-like interior of a warehouse, basement or the like, or the more banal, gray interior of your typical office setting, you can be almost guaranteed that your surroundings will be designed so as to enhance the numbness you feel everyday as you pull into that cubicle.
In recent years, the corporate world has tried to soften its image with pastel paints, generic wall art, scented candles, wood floors, and other virtue-signaling interior design choices made to not only alleviate the ugliness of their work spaces, but also to fool people into thinking that they aren’t totally evil. So, instead of feeling like you’re stuck in a gulag for 8 – 12 hours of the day, you’ll feel like you’re stuck in some sort of insane amalgamation of a daycare center and a Starbucks. Hooray.
25. Constant Games and Attempts to Scam You
Ever have your boss literally steal money from you? It happens more than you would think.
It’s one thing to notice missing digits in your pay check. What’s worse is when companies dangle things that sound good when dressed up in fancy language, but turn out to be rotten deals, as a trade off for real benefits, real payoffs. This was common during the tech bubble days, as well as the 2000’s in the run-up to the big financial Krakatoa that was 2008, where businesses convinced millions of their employees that trading off pensions, holiday bonuses and the like for “stock options” resulted in the meltdown of countless people’s savings, and set the precedent for companies offering less to young people just entering the work place, who never knew what the golden years were like.
26. The Ever-Diminishing Rewards of Selling Your Life to Someone Else
In 1965, a high school diploma alone was an easy ticket to success. Union wages, upward mobility, a strong economy were the rewards waiting for those willing to put in a little work and show up on time. A college diploma, then not even necessary, was like finding a a golden ticket in your Wonka Bar.
Nowadays a college degree is likely to sit you with $20,000 – $250,000 of nondischargable student loan debt, all for the sake of snagging a $32k/year pencil pushing job… if the job is there at all. Worse, you will often have to commute insane distances at the asscrack of dawn and the butt end of the afternoon, work overtime that is often unpaid (technically illegal, but it happens all the time), juggle multiple responsibilities that don’t necessarily match, and be an emotional punching bag for your deranged, money-hungry boss.
Why even bother, except to not starve to death?
27. Junk Food
Let’s face it, you’re not gonna have time to put together a quality, delicious meal from scratch when there are angry Baby Boomers from Ohio who need your help restarting their modem NOW, ASSHOLE. Sure, you could pack a cold lunch at home, but who the hell has time for that when you make it back to the apartment at 6:30 after a long day spent over the phone with Dennis, from Cuyahoga Falls? It’s so much easier to hit up that place with the stupid golden arches, or finish that last cold slice of Papa John’s somebody left in the breakroom. No wonder you’re a FATTY.
28. The Job/Promotion You Want Is Probably Going to Go to the Boss’s Numb Nuts Relative
No job is immune – this includes the presidency, too!
29. You Lose the Best Part of the Day
Right now, there are falcons swooping down over the plains to catch mice in their talons, puffball mushrooms exploding into the air in a cloud of furious spores, golden sunrises bursting over the gray horizon, deer sipping at the edge of mountain streams, Icelandic volcanoes churning red magma like pig iron in Vulcan’s forge, and dolphins frolicking across the waves of a nearby beach. You could be out there, taking it all in and feeling alive for once.
Instead, you’re at work.
30. Mandatory Attendance Even If You Could Do Your Job at Home
We’ve had access to the worldwide web since 1993, and cell phones for who knows how long, so why is it people whose jobs consist of looking at computer screens and clicking things need to gather physically in the same building, wasting time and gasoline in order to do what they could do more comfortably and just as well in their own home, or from a coffee shop?
31. It Hurts Children
When your kid is sick, you should take care of him. Don’t just give him a Tylenol and send him to school. But what can you do when your boss is breathing down your neck about this deadline or another and at least 100 other fools are lined up to take your place if you can’t make him happy?
As with so many things in our society, it’s the children that suffer the most. Even if they receive adequate care when they’re sick, one has to wonder what the long term effects on society are of having multiple generations of children raised in dual-income households where their waking hours with their parents are less than a third of the day…and often, much, much less?
32. It Hurts Romantic Relationships
Does this even need to be debated? With only so much time to devote to so many things, it’s common to find yourself having to chose between having a career that’s “going places” and a decent chance at finding and maintaining a relationship with an emotionally healthy person. Who wants to stick around when your demanding, gotta-have-it-now boss has your phone number and private email?
33. It Hurts Small Towns
Once upon a time, different towns had different flavors, different local customs, different cultures, different jokes, different accents, and in general were unique from one another in ways that are now unimaginable. All thanks to the radio, Hollywood and television.
At least for a while, different places could maintain some distinction by the businesses the locals maintained, everything from unique local book stores and diners with their own unique menus, to grocery stores that had been in the hands of the same family for multiple generations.
Not any longer. Thanks to the McDonald’s-ification of the developed world, ever town from the very smallest to the cities contains the same couple dozen cookie cutter businesses. Bed Bath and Beyond. Chipotle’s. Denny’s. Walmart. All hawking the same products in the same ways to the same people.
We’re all the same, now. And the world is just one big place to shop, shop, shop.
This in itself is bad enough. What’s worse, many of these clone businesses swoop into previously untouched communities, destroy the local/family-owned businesses that supported the town economy for years and gave individuals the sort of dignity, pride and sense of purpose a Mc-job never could… only to pull up the stakes a few years later, leaving entire populations suddenly without access to groceries or essential services. When a city loses a grocer, most people don’t notice. But when a small town does, it can completely disrupt everyone’s lives. This is corporate slash and burn on a global scale.
See here for an example of this in action.
34. It Hurts Society
The relentless obsession with profit that led to this horrendous work culture’s birthing is therefore also responsible for the breakdown of the family, of neighborhoods, and people’s sense of community. We’re all just strangers now, bouncing around the country like billiard balls. What else could have happened when people are willing to pull up the stakes again and again and move insane distances away for the chance of obtaining a little better pay? With no connections comes a decrease in empathy, with all its attendant political and social implications.
35. It Muscles Out Better Systems
Did you know there are people working in cooperatives, where the entire enterprise is controlled democratically – even a true direct democracy in some cases; where workers share profits equitably, and the boss doesn’t out-earn the people who actually make the enterprise function and earn a profit .
The corporatocracy doesn’t want you to know about this, but the Mondragon Corporation of Spain, by far the world’s most successful cooperative enterprise, employs hundreds and thousands of people and is the backbone of the Basque economy, to the point that it is widely credited for saving the Basque language and culture during Spain’s fascist years. Mondragon workers share profits, democratically elect their supervisors, and provide education and medical services to the families of all those involved.
Of course, cooperatives can be much smaller scale: coffee shops, bakeries, machine works. It really doesn’t matter what the enterprise does to make money as how it is organized. Hierarchy creates power games, bullying, stress, and discontent; equality creates loyalty, contentment, and higher productivity. This is backed up by research, of course; people are simply happier when they are part of something working for the greater good with people they know and trust, rather than just working on their own to scrape together a miserable living.
So, naturally, our tax system favors the other way of doing things. Just who’s really in charge of the country, anyway?
36. It’s Destroying the Planet
The amount of waste work creates is unbelievable. Not just paper, but all sorts of things from old printers that simply get tossed instead of repaired, to plastic bottles, straws, and all other kinds of junk. In fact, just 100 companies are responsible for 70% of the emissions causing the world to warm. And for what? So Walmart can be stocked with more junk for people with no money to buy, all in order to prop up a failing economic model that needs people to consume, consume, and then consume some more simply so it doesn’t collapse in on itself?
37. It’s Destroying Towns and Cities
Witness the parasitic, hell, downright vampiric behavior of major league sports, amusement parks, and companies like Amazon on communities that foolishly choose to welcome them. Far from giving decaying towns a much needed economic shot in the arm, these business ventures all too often destroy the livability, ease of transport and local character of the places they exploit.
38. It Creates Demand for Things People Wouldn’t Want Otherwise
Ergonomic keyboards. Over the counter stimulants. There are so many things we wouldn’t otherwise buy if it weren’t for work. On the other side of the coin are the countless pointless products many of our jobs exist to produce and promote; all sorts of consumerist junk that no one really needs but exists to make someone else rich.
39. Constantly Seeing People at Their Worst
Few people want to be nasty, hostile or rude, but many find it hard if not impossible when they’re stuck slaving away at a place that makes them fantasize about throwing their boss into a wood chipper feet first and then lighting themselves on fire. No wonder everyone’s cranky at the DMV counter!
If people supported themselves in ways they found fulfilling, interesting and worthwhile for their own sake, the collective mood would be much, much higher. Instead, half of us walk around with all the good humor and cheer of a wet cat.
40. It Funnels Money from People That Do the Most (and Hardest) Work and Gives It to Those Who Do the Least
“The mine owners did not find the gold, they did not mine the gold, they did not mill the gold, but by some weird alchemy all the gold belongs to them!” – Big Bill Haywood
41. It Destroys Your Self-Confidence
As many an expose has shown, Amazon warehouse workers are pushed to the absolute limits of human performance in order to get that new set of truck balls to you in 24 hours or less. Despite working at an almost superhuman level, these workers are frequently told that they are on the verge of getting fired, and that they aren’t pushing themselves hard enough. Managers are in fact instructed to tell even the best employees, “You’re doing really bad,” just to keep them insecure. (See this eye-opening article for more)
How many companies operate under this principle to some degree? That’s not a fully rhetorical question: The answer is, far, far too many. And this is especially dangerous when the employee in question grew up in a generation where as a child he was told he was special, that he mattered, and was often given recognition and awards for performance in school. It’s not hard to understand why the suicide rate is going up.
42. It Destroys Your Sense of Independence
When you’re ability to acquire calories sufficient to sustain your life by collecting green pieces of paper, numbers on a screen, for doing drudge work for another, you’re not likely to cause a stir. You also will find that that gorgeous day just waiting for you outside will be at best something akin to wall art; just a pleasant backdrop to your dull routine, since there’s no way you can just walk outside and go for a stroll in the park when you feel like it, or go water-skiing with your friends, or just sit on the grass and look at clouds. There are numbers to crunch, children to mind, angry customers to deal with. So, so much to do.
43. It Steals Great Ideas and Products, Diminishes Their Quality and Uniqueness, and Then Demands Money for Doing So
I, too, used to think that Thomas Edison was a prolific inventor, or that Walt Disney was a creative genius. That was before I learned that both these men and many other, similar icons were merely shrewd businessmen who took credit for the hard work and inspiration of their unremembered employees. In fact, this is so common that it can be said of nearly every product in your house: That Windows computer in your office? The software is descended from the one Bill Gates practically stole from a classmate under a false pretext. Windows products are so error-laden and clunky that, thanks to their near-monopoly, have probably set back computing by as much as ten years. Your epipen? Same exact formula as 5 years ago, yet it’s about ten times the price now, thanks to a new owner of production. It just goes on and on.
44. Work Is Part of an Emerging Global System of Control
“Idle hands are the Devil’s playground,” said no person who actually had to work, ever, but it’s been a favorite saying of scolds, task masters, robber barons, foremen, schoolmarms and bullies for half a millennium.
“Everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they never will be industrious.” – Arthur Young, pioneering industro-capitalist of the 18th century.
No wonder that in an age of unprecedented plenty, productivity, and efficiency, more people than ever before are sucked into dead-end jobs that hardly make ends meet, offer little to no vacation time or childcare leave, and in general waste people’s time for crumbs in exchange – or that our politicians and banking tycoons are doing their best to spread such a way of life to as many far corners of the world as possible. People who work all day with little to show for it don’t have any energy left to vote, organize, protest, or make any kind of fuss whatsoever.
45. We Make Childhood and Youth into Nothing but an Extended Work-Preparation Exercise
It was John Taylor Gatto whose groundbreaking research exposed the true purpose of compulsory mass schooling: to make obedient, interchangeable workers out of a diverse, independent set of people at the onset of the industrial revolution. Twelve years of standing in lines, breaking up the day by the ringing of bells, and other such habit-training exercises drain the creative juices out of children and turn them into homogeneous “Human Resources.” Time better spent fishing, drawing pictures, exploring nature, and reading “Captains Courageous” gets burned up on the sacrificial altar of school and industry, like so many offerings to Molech.
46. Life Was More Fulfilling and Satisfying before Work (and yes, there was a time in human history before “work”)
One of our culture’s biggest myths is that the Industrial Revolution made people’s work easier and leisure time greater. Nothing could be further from the truth. While some people – namely, the people who owned the factories and the machines inside the factories – certainly reaped great rewards during this period, the vast majority of people went from a bucolic, leisurely working day in the villages to a dawn to dusk grin six or even seven days a week, in unsafe, unsanitary, ugly sweatshop floors. So great was the stress that many rioted and attempted to destroy the machines, though we all know who won out in the end.
Imagine what it would have been like to be a peasant. While it’s true that such a lifestyle isn’t glamorous, and the medical care available was primitive at best, our pre-industrial ancestors had something precious that very few of us have today: satisfying, unalienated labor. Put more simple, this means that everything the peasant did had an understandable, logical purpose to the peasant, and an obvious connection to his well being and the well being of his friends and neighbors. If a peasant made shoes for a living between planting and harvesting, he would be the one to cure and cut the leather, design the shoe, sew it together, add the laces, etc. A peasant wanting to make a chair for his daughter would be the one to chop down the tree for lumber, cut the boards, assemble the product, and apply the finish. Even if it was hard work, at least it was satisfying work.
Today, our jobs seem to serve little meaningful purpose, to the point of being absurd. Sure, a few people get to be artists, doctors, architects, and the like, but the vast majority of people are stuck doing things such as typing numbers onto a screen, assembly doodads on an assembly line, working a cash register, and so on.
47. Compartmentalizing Your Time and Unsaddling Work from Play Is a Recipe for Deep-Seated Rage and Mental Illness
Half the country will be on powerful anti psychotic or antidepressant drugs at some point. That’s enough said.
48. Your Ancestors Didn’t Have to Put Up with This Shit
We’ve tossed around the word “peasant” in this article some, but honestly, by at least some measures, the real peons had it better.
Far fetched? In medieval France, peasants worked about two months the entire year: one month for planting, another month in the fall for harvest. While there would of course be some time spent making handicrafts, attending to home repairs, and so on, the majority of the year was spent attending weeks’ long festivals, drinking beer, and napping the day away. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
49. All the Wasted Talent
It’s amazing, that a place like Los Angeles/Hollywood, with literally hundreds of thousands of highly talented people hanging around, can still make so many shitty movies.
What’s even more amazing, when you think about it, that the same situation actually applies to every sector of the economy, at a much larger scale, to the point of being endemic.
For an economic system that touts its supposed “efficiency” as one of its greatest virtues, there sure is a massive amount of waste occurring at all times.
The order of the day doesn’t take advantage of its best and brightest, as is commonly supposed. It hires a tiny sliver of them for tasks that require their expertise, and leaves the rest wandering a desert of confusion and disappointment for their entire lives. Those “lucky” enough to snag that all-important job will likely see their talents misspent on someone else’s bad idea.
50. All the Wasted Love
You will be forgotten after you walk out the door the last time.
51. All the Wasted Dreams
You’re never going to be an astronaut.
52. All the Wasted Time
I once had a job where I was paid $60,000 to write a once-a-week company newsletter that no one read, and make coffee for people sometimes. Oh yeah, one time I wrote a 60-page report to a Congressional committee. That was a fun blip that came and went as the months dragged by.
I still think I would have been better off hanging out in Goa, with a big bag of books at my side for when the molly wears off.
It’s amazing how our system can be so stingy on the one hand, demanding more and more from workers for ever diminishing rewards, while on the other hand, it produces this and all kinds of other bullshit jobs.
If you are salaried, why is it a requirement that you hang around the office when you have nothing left to do? Isn’t life and its attendant possibilities, all of which each one of us only has a very limited amount of time to experience before death, more important than putting on a show, or making the miserable people who control capital in our system feel like their money isn’t being wasted.
It’s always about feelings with these supposedly hard-nosed supermen commanding the controls of global capitalism, contrary to common wisdom.
53. Sexual Harassment
A truly amazing number of people still think in terms of “men’s work” and “women’s work.” This unto it self might be harmless if it didn’t cloud people’s judgment about who belongs where, who deserves a promotion, and how much potential value to an organization any individual might hold. You’ve probably heard about the wage gap between men and women, but it goes well beyond that, particularly when a boss won’t even consider a woman for certain kinds of jobs – not just physical labor, but brain work, too.
But the real fun begins when a boss or coworker gets the hots for you and won’t take no for an answer.
54. Racial Harassment
Applying for jobs when your skin is a shade too dark, or your name a touch too “ethnic” is like playing roulette. It’s bad enough to be stuck in the “gig economy,” without benefits or job security – all the more worse to have this extra set of obstacles in the way. But even if you get the job, who is to say that your coworkers (or worse, boss) turn out to be racist a-holes who will sabotage your stuff when you’re in the restroom, post anonymous threats against you, key your car, and more? It happens more than you might think.
55. Ageism (old people)
We love making fun of clueless Baby Boomers as much as the next, but at the same time, there is something to be said about how brutal the work world is to the old. Having to struggle to keep up with ever-changing technology and standards must be exhausting, and far too many people find themselves competing against the younger and more savvy at an age they once expected to be retired by. Other than Walmart greeter and cat sitter, there aren’t many jobs that people think of as “old people work.”
56. Ageism (young people)
Forget about Thomas Edison running his own successful business by the age of 10 or Paul Orfalea creating a multi-million dollar business while his peers were doing keg stands, if you’re under 25, it’s automatically assumed you have nothing to offer and can’t handle anything of substance. So better get used to fry baskets and dirty mops, kiddo.
57. Disgusting Bathrooms
One of us at Dead Mailbox Society remembers his time in an office building when the entire company had to evacuate due to a “poop bandit” smearing his own shit on the walls and writing the boss’s name in poop on the walls of the men’s room. While this scatalogical scandal did not end with the bandit being identified, it exemplified the often unsanitary and frankly disgusting conditions of many workplace bathrooms (and we hear it’s even worse for women!).
This is to say nothing, of course, of having to clean bathrooms as part of your job. Janitor, or maybe just a busboy with some downtime – better learn to like scraping dried boogers off walls and picking up used diapers with your own hands!
58. Constant Attempts to Ruin Your Health and Diet
Your constant attempts to improve yourself and get in shape are a great way to make your coworkers who have already given up on such things feel insecure about themselves. Expect to be told that you’re going to hurt yourself or that you’re depriving yourself of the best things in life. Donuts, pizza, cookies, birthday cakes and more will be constantly up for grabs in the break room, because in lieu of things like healthcare, parental leave, vacation time, and other, actual benefits, you will be plied with junk food in hopes that you will overlook the fact that you’re an overworked, exploited meat machine for shareholders.
59. “Benefits” for Babies and Stupid People, Instead of the Real Thing
Your boss might not be willing to grant you time off to take care of your sick kid, but he’ll gladly pay 60 bucks for a pizza party when workers start whispering the word “union”!
You’d be amazed how many people this can pacify.
60. Nonstop Anger and Resentment at All Levels
It began with the mailmen (hence “going postal”) but didn’t end with them. The ugliness of work and ever higher expectations for less money and fewer benefits makes people snap. In America, workplace shootings happen hundreds of times every year now, to the point that they rarely even make headlines anymore.
61. Strip Mall Lifestyle
Work. Sleep. Shop. Work. Sleep. Shop.
Work, in your depressingly ugly office with people you don’t like. Sleep, in your little house made of ticky tack. Shop, for things you don’t need or don’t even like, in your local shopping center, same as all the others. Same as it ever was.
62. Boring Coworkers
I hope you’re ready to have your inbox stuffed with 50+ photos of a near-total stranger’s newborn granddaughter!
It’s already demoralizing enough to be crammed into an ugly room doing unfulfilling, repetitive tasks; how much worse it is to be stuck doing these things with people who drone on about family vacations you weren’t on and don’t care about, asinine political opinions, or their dreary, humdrum lives spent consuming canned music, fads, American Idol, and whatever other cultural dreck preheated for them. If you end up working with some cool people who make passing the time slightly more tolerable, good for you, but the odds are against it.
63. The Job Search
There once was a time when you could walk into a few locations, hand the secretary your resume, and then sit back and relax until the calls came in. If they didn’t, you could always wait a couple weeks and call them to find. More often than not, so long as you didn’t show up looking like you just came from a fight in the men’s room at Dave & Buster’s and you kept your “there,” “their” and “they’re”s clear, you could resonably expect to find employment within a month or two.
These days, try sitting through hour-long applications for fucking Burger King that make you hand type the exact same goddamn information that’s already in the fucking resume they asked for earlier. (If you’re really unlucky, have fun when they make you do it two, three, or, God help you, four more times into an online form that won’t let you copy and paste).
You would think with the legions of “people focused work solution” organizations scooping up government money next to every Dollar Store and KFC, and the countless online job hunt sites, it’d be easier than ever to find work without having things turn into a soul-sucking chore. Not in the 21st century “service economy!” Little did you know, the digital platforms that replaced the classifieds section of the newspaper and the old fashioned “Help Wanted” signs you see in old Mickey Rooney movies were designed – not with you in mind – but with minimizing hassles for Debbie, in the Human Resources Department. Nowadays most resumes sent out or uploaded online are never even seen by another human being.
So who sees them, you ask?
Robots and AI. These insidious replacements, not quite ready to take over the job you wanted itself (see you in Blade Runner), for now they are used to scan your info for certain, specific key words you are not provided and can only guess at, at best. What, your resume didn’t include the phrase “lateral approaches to team building?” Your application for Kinko’s didn’t have the words “Brother MFC-9130CW Fuser” at least twice?
You’re rejected before your would-be boss could even know you exist. What? You know for sure that you are qualified, or the only one who applied, or maybe even a standout candidate who would definitely kick ass if given the chance? Tough titty, Gritty.
No wonder when experts bother to count the people who’ve permanently given up trying to find a job, the real unemployment rate is shoots up to roughly 20% of the population.
64. Toxic Customers
Entitled, aggressive and needy behavior will always threaten to erupt at any minute, whether it’s over an expired coupon or someone’s pressing need to have a free meal since it came out thirty seconds later than they were expecting. After all, the customer is always right, especially when they’re wrong, and you’d better not push back or it’s YOUR ass that’s going to get in trouble.
65. Arrogant, Unhelpful CEO’s
When the only quality that matters is amassing as much money as quickly as possible no matter the human cost or long-term consequences to society and the natural environment, it’s no wonder shit floats in the world of business.
66. Callous, Anti-Life Culture
I will never forget my first day at a high-paying corporate job, where the high ranking man responsible for my employee orientation spent the first fifteen minutes emphatically explaining that we were NOT a charity, and that if I ever got cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s, or had a family member who suddenly needed extended care and attention, that I would be promptly fired without severance, as a matter of company policy. $$ > people’s lives, and loves, every time.
67. Food Service Jobs Ruin Your Enjoyment of Dining Out
Who could ever really enjoy dining out when it reminds your immediately of your bloodsucking, nightmare of a job? For many food workers, the answer is, “We can’t.”
And that’s just the negative emotional association leftover from a horrible work environment shared with lots of tired, cranky people serving entitled customers. Imagine living with the knowledge of how many health codes are routinely broken, how many kitchens have rats, ants or cockroaches wandering freely, or how often bodily fluids make it into the food.
68. Toxic Work Environments Foster Toxic Home Environments
How can anyone expect a tired out, overworked, underpaid wage slave with no job security and the threat of a Sword of Damocles over his head to come home in the evening and be there 100% for his kids? Who but a rare few have the stamina to withstand 8+ hours of boredom mixed with exploitation to want to play Barbies with a five-year old, and in general act like a loving, engaged person?
How, for that matter, can we expect someone in that situation to be fully responsive to the needs of a lover or aging parent?
It’s not wonder the family fell apart in the so-called “First World” decades ago. Two incomes today aren’t even enough for a substantial portion of the population to make the mortgage payment, pay for the groceries, pay off the car, save for the kids’ grotesquely inflated college tuition, or the ever-increasing costs of medical care… let alone to afford a little quality leisure.
Throw alcohol or “diet pills” into the mix, and that there’s a recipe for angry outbursts, emotional withdrawal, and even domestic abuse.
69. “I Got Mine, So Screw You”
Apparently as long as you get what you want in life, it doesn’t matter what happens to other people.
Work used to be about these things called “jobs,” where you knew what your hours would be, how much money you would be taking home each month, and if you were lucky enough, provided health insurance and a little vacay. The new “gigs economy” has done away with all that and replaced it with something even more soul-sucking. Now you get all the drudgery and stress of work without any of the security or dependability, and what’s worse, it’s extending its tentacles into other parts of our lives: Your car is no longer merely you car; it’s your office when you spend your evenings after your first job, working for Lyft or Uber and making chump change, just to pay the bills. Your home, formally a place of comfort and solitude, is now a part-time bed and breakfast, thanks to Air BNB. There’s nothing work can’t ruin!
71. Climbing the Ladder Often Means Choosing to Do Things You Know Are Wrong
72. Meaningless Rewards
Bust your ass to get that big project completed before the deadline. Hit top of sales for the second month in a row. Finish that design that’ll blow the competition out of the water.
Hope you enjoy your $3 plastic trophy and having your photograph posted above the drinking fountain next to the bathroom. Your boss is laughing all the way to the bank on your accomplishment. When they lay your cold, dead body into the ground, no one will remember or care about the hours you spent toiling away for someone else, and you sure as hell don’t want “Regal Cinemas Employee of the Month” chiseled onto your tomb stone.
Speaking of meaningless rewards, have you started to think about your plans for retirement? We here at Mammon-Potter-Schultz Financial Services are here to help you coast into the graveyard after spending all of your prime years working to accumulate money you are no longer healthy enough to spend. While you didn’t get to do that hiking journey across Norway you always wanted to do before you got that hip replacement, or go drunk UFO chasing in the New Mexico desert with those weird friends you made over the summer before grad school like you always talked about, or spend a year in Athens studying Ancient Greek so you could read Homer in the original, you can at least content yourself watching game show reruns in your low-income housing for seniors in between beatings from your nurse when you complain about her burning you again when she puts overcooked fish gruel into your feeding tube.
74. Parking Hell
Arrive just five minutes later than usual, and in many places, you’ll find yourself without a parking spot! You’re already late, and now you get to drive around in a cold panic, desperately searching for a Starbucks or public library that hopefully won’t have your car towed while you stare at spreadsheets for the next eight hours. Maybe they’ll be no parking anywhere, and you get to make a fun phone call to your boss explaining why it’s going to be another 20 minutes before you show up!
Hope you don’t get fired!
75. Commuting Hell
Note that this is essentially unpaid overtime. RIP.
76. You’re Fucked If You Have an Illness or Injury
Maybe you’re lucky enough to live in one of those Scandinavian Soviet Republics, but for the rest of us, our shitty jobs have no use for us if we suddenly find ourselves too sick to work . Bad enough that you have to pop a couple Advil when you wake up with the flu before work… just think of those people facing a cancer diagnosis who have to choose between a pay check, or leaving for treatment with no income.
It’s no better if you have a disability or long-term injury; the world of work sees you as nothing more than bargain-priced goods, easier to wring out for lower pay.
77. Alienation from the Natural World
Everyday there are deer grazing, eagles flying, fish jumping in rivers, flowers in full bloom, snowflakes falling, rainbows appearing for just a few brief moments, volcanoes erupting, and so, so much more. And it’s never too far away from where you are, we promise.
Instead of getting to witness and commune with all that, you’re in a cubicle, listening to your 45-year old soccer mom coworker’s Spotify that keeps playing “Hey Soul Sister.”
78. Conformism and Homogeneity
Try not to be unique or too original with your personality – that sends up red flags to Human Resources. Have tattoos, facial piercings, an ear gauge? Forget that gig at a fucking McDonald’s – Jan, the suburban mom, is scared of things that are different, and Jan is the backbone of the McDonald’s empire. Forget spontaneity, creativity, and choice, it’s time to go to work – and don’t even think about having a controversial opinion or sharing that article from that one weird website you found.
79. Dress Codes
Who wouldn’t want to wear a strangulation item around their neck (it’s mandatory) along with a long sleeve shirt made out of a non-breathable fabric!? And forget about finding decent employment if you happen to like tattoos or body piercings. After all, image is money, and that means we have to appeal to the grimmest right-wing Christian sensibilities out there.
80. Delicious, Delicious Germs
Thanks to the ever increasingly insane demands companies make on their employees, if you’re lucky enough to even be offered sick days at all, God help you if you be brazen enough to actually use them. Worse, all your fellow workers are in the same exact position, so whenever someone drags in the flu from home, you can expect to have it within a couple days. You, and everyone else around you. It’s not as if you have a forcefield around you, protecting you from all those door handles, passed-around papers, faucet levers, towel dispensers, forks, fridge doors, coffee mugs, punch cards, staplers, copy machines, hand trucks, Porta Potty handles, and everything else covered in a fine slime of contagious miasma.
And you’ll still be there, showing up for that precious job. Enjoy the weeks’ long symphony of hacking and moaning!
81. Forced “Fun” with People You Would Never Voluntarily Spend Time with Otherwise
It’s the 21st century, and apparently some people still care about baseball. You don’t, of course, but you better fucking sign up for that “voluntary” company team, and spend even more of your free time with your shitty boss and coworkers, or else that promotion is going to go to Trenton, who played varsity in high school, and was a member of the right frat.
It goes on: company “parties,” karaoke, on and on. If people liked doing these things so much, would there be any need to pressure them into doing it (if not mandatory, as is so often the case)?
82. Enforced “Enthusiasm”
This shit makes high school pep assemblies look like a production of Tosca.
83. Car Ownership
Fuck your car. Fuck ALL the cars. This isn’t 1962; cars aren’t “cool,” they’re an expensive, troublesome burden and a menace to our lives and the planet. Good luck finding and keeping a tolerably well-paying job with nothing but a bicycle for transport, though. Our system and its infrastructure are literally designed to FORCE you and yours to purchase these rolling shit wagons (and, naturally, buy the precious, precious gasoline needed to make them run). What, exactly, is convenient about this setup – particularly when big city commutes can run over two hours each way in this day and age? No matter, you’ll be on the hook for car payments, fuel and mandatory insurance regardless.
Once upon a time, cities across North America had workable, if not excellent public transit in the form of trolleys, trains and buses. Those days are long gone, and unlikely to come back so long as the interests of fossil fuel companies dominate political life at the expense of what’s good for people, the environment, or the future.
84. Expensive Clothing You Would Never Buy Otherwise
It’s not enough they tell you what to wear, they also frequently make you wear clothing that costs half your paycheck (or more!). That’s a hefty price tag for something that leaves you sweaty and uncomfortable for the better part of the day.
85. Work: Earning Money to Afford Insurance You Need In Case You Can’t Work
“Supplemental Insurance.” Like a snake biting its own tail, many a worker finds himself paying hard earned cash from work for a service (which he may never use), all so he can… get cash if he can’t work. Of course, such things wouldn’t be necessary if the world hadn’t been gamified by millionaires to wring out money from people caught in the rat race, but here we are.
Lol, why do we even have jobs again?
86. You’re Never, Ever Done “Training” These Days
This is doubly true if you’re a teacher. Sure, you were told by well-meaning or deluded adults that college would give you the skills and credentials you need to land a high-paying, cushy job. Well, those days are over. Expect to be sent to constant training seminars conducted by people who can’t open a PowerPoint, mandatory reading of helpful “tips” you will need to memorize in your free time, and worse. And don’t even get us started on jobs that give you the choice years in of going back to get a new degree or being laid off. There’s a million hungry suckers waiting to take your place if you don’t do it, so better get on it.
87. Fantasy Football
Lots of people like football. Nothing wrong with that. But what if you’re the only one in the office/warehouse/LSD lab disguised as an abandoned grain silo that doesn’t?
It’s amazing how trivial things like what sports you watch can affect your influence and prospects at the job, but they do. Think you’re going to get the promotion when Jim Bob puts earned through sweat and toil, honest-to-God cash into your boss’s fantasy football betting pot, and you didn’t?
And don’t even get us started with company baseball leagues.
88. It’s Literally Killing You
Hand to God. What else do 8+ hours of sitting and snacking coupled with relentless emotional stress spread out over four decades do to the human body?
Blue collar? What does repeated exposure to paint fumes, pesticides, drywall dust, heavy metals, arc welding fumes, or even just the sun do to a human being?
Here’s a hint:
Don’t think we’re being melodramatic. Workplace depression (and suicide!) is rising dramatically.
89. At the End of the Day, You’re Just a Pair of Arms and Legs
At the end of the day, you’re just a thing to be wrung out for someone else’s profit. Not a human being. Not someone with hopes, with dreams. It’s time to break out of this system and find your own way.