Monday, 5 December 2011

How Are We To Live?

A comment from Jim from Oregon:

Every day I am frustrated from my full time job. I have no hope or probable way of quitting this rat race, working forever and resting in order to regenerate for... work. How to cope with this vision for next 30-40 years? I don't want to spend my life at work. Count with me day: 8 hours work 1-2 hours travelling to work 8 hours sleep 6 hours of general tiredness from exhausting job -no will, power and energy to do anything that would resemble a hobby or a satisfying activity. week 5 days work 2 days rest where the saturdays aren't spent meaningfully, I just recover from the 5 day load. year 4 weeks holiday 48 weeks work is this a joke? I am working for six years after the graduation and I already feel that I can't go on anymore. I just want to slash this corporate office to pieces. I don't want to work. How to quit this? It is very naive and perhaps childish, but it really bothers me 99% of all time. I would like to know how others deal with this sad reality. Thanks

I've expressed previously my own horror at the whole work phenomenon here:

Finding Jim's comment this morning was particularly a propos as I spent a great deal of last night brooding over the same issue. Trapped in a meaningless universe, and then obliged to "earn" your living by being a slave. I think, perhaps, that in my ideal world, we'd have a Socialist set-up where people were obliged to do four hours of socially useful work per day and then have their freedom. A pipe-dream, no doubt, but it strikes me as eminently more civilised compared to the current barbaric set-up. In the meantime, how is one to cope?

All comments welcome.


  1. Yes! This is a topic constantly in my own thoughts. I have a job that consumes much of my time and mental/emotional energy... not only when I'm "on the job", but also in the form of my fretting about things work-related when I'm theoretically "off the clock" (figurative, since I'm salaried). It makes me miserable. I have contemplated many times how I work basically to feed my face just to give myself energy so that I can work some more, and on it goes... I suspect that if I followed the typical format that middle-class Americans are expected to follow, I'd be gearing up to put in another 25-30 years of this hellish routine. Sorry... no. I'm saving my pennies like mad right now, plan to retire "young", live as cheaply as I possibly can, and then blow my brains out when I run out of money.
    I see no point in devoting ALL of my "best" years to intense toil and job-related anxiety just so that I can save up enough to pay a stranger in a nursing home to wipe my ass once I'm retired (at a socially-sanctioned age) and basically spent, hoping I have saved enough to keep myself going on and on in decrepitude until Mother Nature finally deems the time right to cash me in. I seriously wonder why more people don't take the route I describe (let's call it "suicide retirement" for convenience). Why do people squander their youth obediently working themselves to death, not even considering retiring until they're 65 or older and tired out, riddled with arthritis, and suffering from any number of other age-related ailments? I realize some people live their whole lives paycheck-to-paycheck, but I think if I were in that situation, given my state of mind, I'd just be forced to pull the trigger even sooner...
    With respect to AN, I should mention that one of the main reasons I never had kids was because I felt it would be wrong to bring them into a situation where they'd have to (most likely) suffer for decades in the rat race for the privilege of putting food on their tables and keeping a roof over their heads. Fuck that.

    1. >>> Sorry... no. I'm saving my pennies like mad right now, plan to retire "young", live as cheaply as I possibly can, and then blow my brains out when I run out of money.

      Sounds about like me.

  2. "With respect to AN, I should mention that one of the main reasons I never had kids was because I felt it would be wrong to bring them into a situation where they'd have to (most likely) suffer for decades in the rat race for the privilege of putting food on their tables and keeping a roof over their heads. Fuck that."

    I don´t see why that would be disrespectul at all.

    I´m an antinatalist, and I loathe work. Specially the type of work where one has to cope with bitchy female secretaries, dumb people, and all the nagging and psychological bullshit that one has to endure in any normal office type of work. I literally hate it.



    Hate it. What I realize is that one has to look for alternatives in whichever way one can and find fitting. I, for one, quit working at lawyers´s offices for now, and I´m studying at home to an exam to work for the government, which are, in some ways, better than normal private companies, at least here where I live. But one has to look for alternatives, always.

    But the normal work environment sickens me.

  3. Much of the work the "active people" do must be getting directed to children who need not have been born, and the terminally ill/handicapped who aren't allowed to die with dignity when they want to.

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  5. Anonymous: I feel your pain, my friend. The thought of slaving in one's prime just so one can decay with "dignity" is awful. As for the "suicide retirement" option, apart from its logicality, I also suspect we're going to see it unwillingly adopted more and more as a result of the world's continuing economic turmoil. As for sparing the unborn the horror of work, right on!

    Shadow: Thanks as always, buddy. Government employment or college have always seemed two plausible alternatives to the rat race. Hope it works out, pal!

    Srikant: Agreed. The walking wounded (ie. all of us) are never allowed to depart with dignity.

    Jim: Thanks for the kind words. I hope you find some consolation from the knowledge that you're not the only one. Hope to hear from you again soon.

  6. Just today, a colleague asked me, "Are you enjoying your work?"

    I was like, "WHAT? Who enjoys work?!"


  7. Wow, what a world!
    a bunch of mourners -- mourning for having born, having to work, not having time to do anthing interesting, howsoever useless it is to oneself and others! At least, one thing is clear: a small minority, finding the idiots in majority, do not think that the majority may have a point or two right. Perhaps, the majorit will continue to 'feel sorry' for the minority and hope oneday they will be awakened. And this goes for the minority other way round too.

    All said, the world is an interesting place to live, with so much divergences abounding.

  8. Jim from Oregon, are you who I think you are? We still haven't had that beer we talked about.

    If there is more than one Jim in Oregon, even better. Let's all meet in Portland or Salem (or on campus) and have a beer. And yes, work sucks.

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  10. Jim-

    email me:

  11. I'm taking on the survivalist route, because I've come to the limit of mental bearability with having to work. I'm going to experiment with homeleness. I'm going to buy a van, an annonymous white van, furnish it with the essentials and live on the roads.

  12. no-thoughts, that's very heroic of you! I think it's a very reasonable decision given the state of the world. And very brave. Best of luck with it and hope you can keep us updated on how it goes.

  13. The thing is, some people actually like work and do derive their meaning from it.

    You're talking about a utopia, which would fail as much as would anarchism and communism, for all the reasons you said on that thread -- including the need to force others to do what they don't want to do.

    If people derive meaning from their work, so be it. The productive people provide the money for social welfare benefits, after all.

    Personally I've decided not to work and, as a result, am completely destitute and will be homeless in a few days.

    And then I have options, including suicide.

    But back when I enjoyed working, I don't think I should have been denied it. It's just that then I had something to work and live for, and now I don't.

    Let those who wish work the hours they want -- work is as important as religion to many people.

  14. I think four hours of work is too much. None of that work would truly be useful and it be done in a meaningless, futile world that ends in death. I wouldn't be able to work even a minute.

    Work is only a non-issue for inanimate matter (i.e. robots). For anything animate with a capacity to suffer, work is an insult to consciousness and a blight.

  15. I am in the UK. I live on benefits, with as little shame as I can manage. I have decided that what is offered to me by work is not acceptable. I manipulate the system. I am a "shirker". And if the tax payer complains, what would they prefer... I was on the street committing crime? Fuck them all.

  16. To expand slightly:

    I do not manipulate the system to increase the amount I receive, only to receive it in the first place. I accept that I am unable to compete with many people whom I consider myself superior to in some regards, but woefully inferior to in "work" related matters. Ditto with studious people (I seem unable to "upskill" myself through diligent study). If I were happy to work long hours for low pay, or able to work in a field I genuinely loved for higher pay, I would. However, I cannot do either. So I "scrounge" from those who can.

    1. Sounds like a perfectly noble and sensible position to me.