What makes us crazy in the 21st century, era of computers, Generation fb, the false space-age, the present future? Eleven years ago I was unemployed for a year and struggled not only to find a job but to understand what that meant. I walked in the Jobcentre and a woman at a desk asked me what I wanted to do. I told her I wanted to be a journalist. She told me to be realistic. Why not work in a shop? Okay, I’ll do that. After that I went to university and spent the next eleven years trying to become a writer while also, for the past six, working in a shop.
I was bored of the procedure of being pushed out of school and expected to understand the world just like that. It was like being enlisted for the retail sector, a soldier of commercialisation, bombing the consumers’ purses and wallets. It bored me but I had to make money somehow. I felt stuck yet I had no idea. I just wanted to write. Why couldn’t I make money from that? I read an article in the Guradian by Stuart Jeffries talking to the author David Graeber about ‘bullshit jobs’, our rule-bound lives and the importance of play. It was interesting to read about how jobs have been created that are meaningless, but ‘Capitalism isn’t supposed to create meaningless positions.’ I work with a number of intelligent people and every day we go about the meaningless, menial jobs that seem so trivial when you compare yourself to the existence if the world. It’s just for money though, isn’t it? It’s what I would have said eleven years ago when I couldn’t get a job. Now I have one it means nothing to me. We joke ironically that some of us are ‘lifers’ as if we are in prison. And it’s funny. We have to joke about it. It avoids the humdrum mentality of the menial job.
Sometimes walking home I see a number of homeless people. I’ve noticed a lot more recently. It puts in perspective where I am in my own life and where they unfortunately are. I don’t resent my position, I just crave more, which is the mentality of my society. It’s the illness of wanting more. The 20th century disease of wanting or needing to be famous. It’s been there since they invented the motion picture. It’s that you work your whole life until you’re crazy but the new professional craze is to want more. You can go crazy looking for a job, spend weeks and weeks searching for a job, being unemployed and probably eventually homeless. But unfortunately again, once you have that job and it’ll drive you crazy in the same way.
A lot of people don’t deserve what they get. The managerial types whose job it is to be paid more to do less. Celebrities who are famous for being famous. Famous for being rich instead of vice versa. Customer service is a funny concept because a lot of customers/consumers also don’t deserve what they get. It’s like a lot of them taking advantage of the service because it’s ‘to serve’ like a servant. That’s also why many sales assistants begrudge the concept itself. You’ll often find them in the stockroom with their head in their hands, Bukowski-like, asking themselves what are they doing there, and wishing to be as famous as the people they envy.
It’s this which makes us crazy in this era. The want and need for more and more. Like a sexually insatiable society on a self-destructive warpath. We shouldn’t blame ourselves for not being where we want to be. No one wants to be unemployed and homeless, it’s not a lifestyle choice, but there are a myriad of factors as to why a person is living in a certain way. Maybe you’ll achieve what you wanted to achieve, but you’ll be addicted to it like a drug and expect more and the greed of the consuming society continues. There will be a point in your life where you will have not achieved what you wanted. But you’ll be okay, you don’t have to compare yourself to what you see on TV.