There’s a new, fast-growing career field that’s attracting a lot of smart people: Unemployment!
Increasingly, people are choosing unemployment over jobs. These are often educated, intelligent, responsible adults. Unemployment is more and more often a choice made by people who want to work — just not at traditional jobs.
Trouble is, not everyone realizes how hard it is being unemployed. It can be scary. It takes dedication. Dedication like that calls for some support system to provide inspiration and encouragement.
So a movement has grown up around it. They call it the non-job movement. Its message is this: Do what you’re good at, live authentically, serve the greater needs of society, and to hell with having a job. Do it right and the money will take care of itself.
They have a valid point, there. It’s always been a valid point, but maybe even moreso today.
The non-job movement springs from few different currents in American society. The days of working one job at one company for a whole career are long-gone. Benefits at companies aren’t what they used to be, with insurance sometimes costing as much as one would pay on the open market. Social media and mobile Internet have not only fractured the friendly environment of the water-cooler, but shown us that no one seems to have it any better: Most employees are just drones filling out TPS reports and waiting to get fired, no matter where they work.
On the flip side, that same social media gives us access to markets, information, and ideas that would have been unreachable in the past–controlled as they were by the companies that used to employ us.
So the onetime advantages of having a “job” are largely gone. This day was foreseen long ago. Now, it’s here: A new horizon of non-employment has opened before us! This is the dawn of a new era!
But in some ways this movement couldn’t have come at a worse time. That’s because — to judge by many of the non-jobbers on Facebook and other places — it’s not enough just to throw off the yoke. In their minds, the rejection of the “job” needs to result almost immediately in riches. And not just any riches — easy riches.
I think we sometimes forget how much we assume plug-and-play works for everything in life. That was the prime demand placed on technology long ago: That it be user-friendly: No reading necessary before use; no skills required; no sacrifice demanded. High technology has formed our world to the point that it’s unrecognizable without it. It’s our reality, and our reality is really pretty easy in most ways. We’re a bit spoiled.
I think the writing was on the wall back in the ’70s was when McDonald’s put pictogram-buttons of hamburgers and fries on electronic cash registers. Reality isn’t always like that. Sometimes it’s not plug-and-play — especially when you’re unemployed by choice.
But there’s another reason this non-jobs thing is a bit — shall we say — inopportune: We now have at least two and possibly three generations of people who believe its their holy mission to seek personal fulfillment. This actually is a great thing. In fewer than 100 years we’ve done a turbocharged hillclimb up to the very top of that Maslovian pyramid. Your success today is measured not in your ability to keep yourself clothed, housed, and fed, but in how positively you feel about your contribution to the world — and how well you’re using your own talents.
But see: You can be very fulfilled in life and barely make a dime. If you can imagine being happy working with the disabled or playing music or rescuing animals (or writing books) and yet still needing to brown-bag it and commute to and from the shelter by bus, you are correct. That’s very possible.
It’s also very possible to throw yourself into a job that pays enough to afford most luxuries while hating every minute of it and wishing you were dead. That’s not only possible — it’s frighteningly common.
The leaders of the non-job movement say the right things: Follow your passion, embrace a vision of service, take care of customers, build your brand, provide value. That’s their first message, and it’s a good one. But they also need to talk about money because they’re trying to sell something (of course). Thus to encourage you to spend that $497.00 on a set of DVD’s showing you how to be unemployed, they talk about success stories of the handsome and fit young people who shunned jobs and yet are living large.
Thus, the message that comes through the loudest to many of their followers is this: MAKE FAST CASH, BRUHH!!! GET A BITCHIN’ CAMARO, BRUHH!!! GET THE BABES, BRUHH!!!
In that way, followers of the non-job movement aren’t much different from any of the other get-rich-quick scheme enthusiasts we’ve known before. They want the money, they want it now, and they don’t want getting it to be very difficult.
Oh, but now they also expect it to be fulfilling in some spiritual way. That’s new.
Given the inherent conflicts of this approach, I’d like to offer my alternative with a slight twist: Your best approach to pursuing a career in unemployment is to do whatever you want to do as hard as you possibly can, and pray that you make enough money to keep doing it. That’s the only way you’re going to really achieve success.
You might never end up with that bitchin’ Camaro, but if you’re doing it right, you’re just not going to care.
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