On the morning of Monday January 5th, London commuters were welcomed back to work with a series of posters plastered on the subway reminding them that most of their jobs are in fact, useless. Such a grim reality…
200 posters were put up in ad spaces on the subway system, the posters contained quotes taken from LSE anthropology Professor and activist David Graeber’s article entitled “On The Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs.” This paper basically explains that modern employment is pretty much pointless, and it takes a massive toll on pretty much everyone who has to partake.
Some of the quotes that were put up:
“It’s as if someone were out there making up pointless jobs for the sake of keeping us all working.”
“Huge swathes of people spend their days performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed.”
“How can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist?”
These are some great points, and at the very least will get people thinking, which I can only assume was the intention behind this clever stint.
The article which was mentioned above, refers to a prediction that was made by an economist, John Maynard Keynes in 1930. He said that future generations would only have a 15-hour workweek due to technological advances. 15 hour workweek, imagine that! According to Graeber, a 15 hour work week is possible, but “technology has been marshalled in order to make us work more.”
Graeber also stated: ”In order to achieve this, jobs have to have had to be created that are effectively pointless.” He goes on to explain how the numbers of skilled industrial jobs have decreased, and “professional, managerial, clerical, sales and service workers” have tripled leaving a surplus of what he rightfully called “pointless” occupations.
When you actually think about it, a lot of the jobs today are essentially pointless. In many cases jobs are being created for the sake of having jobs. If people were truly following what they’re passionate about, a lot of these jobs wouldn’t exist, and likely there would be no need for them. Also, there are so many duplicates of the same job, if there weren’t as much competition, and everything could be sold at a fair price we wouldn’t need repeats of the thousands of jobs that we see today.
After this stint took place, a member from VICE called up Graeber for an interview to get his thoughts on the campaign. You can check that out here.
This whole thing reminds me of a little something that a few CE members and myself did a few years ago to remind people first of all that, the world as we knew it, doesn’t have to be like this and that each and everyone of us is a beautiful, powerful and capable being, although sometimes it doesn’t feel like that. We made giant signs out of canvas and headed to the 401 (a very busy highway that runs East and West through Ontario) during morning rush hour traffic. The signs read: “It doesn’t have to be like this” and, “You are a beautiful being.”
What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever felt that your job was pointless or unnecessary? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.