Stop Saying "Do What You Love, Love What You Do." It Devalues Actual Work

Stop Saying "Do What You Love, Love What You Do." It Devalues Actual Work

I've never been one to subscribe to the idea that you should love your job; because if you love your job, then you are expected to become a slave to it, to the company, putting it first and your life second, or last. Living to work, rather than working to live.

There's nothing wrong with loving your job. Go ahead with your bad self and do so if it floats your boat, if it's possible for you, if it's laudable or workable.

...but love what I do? Love four years of working at a taxi company where I was verbally abused by customers and labour-abused by my managers? Hardly doth that make an iota of sense in the lifebook of someone who is not a slave.

I've always kind of enjoyed the idea of a job I didn't have to put too much of myself into, because then I had energy left for things that actually were something more to me than a means to an end - art, friends, marathoning TV shows... you get the idea.

"Nothing makes exploitation go down easier than convincing workers that they are doing what they love."

I remember the first time I saw a commercial for that service that let you connect to your computer remotely. My first horrified thought was "no fucking way would I ever sign up for a service that allowed my bosses to guilt me into working during my vacation" (for example). Yet another tool in the long line of expectations that we slave ourselves to the workplace and, in a way, "owe our souls to the company store".

There aren't a lot of people on this planet who have the luxury of doing a job that's in the range of things they love - there are an awful lot of people, though, whose jobs are just a means of paying bills and preventing starvation. And there's nothing wrong with that, and there's nothing wrong with you if you don't have a job that isn't soul-affirming.

Of course you should always strive to do a good job at whatever you do, and be proud of doing a good job at whatever you do, and that pride will enable you to put what's required into your labours.

I have a friend who's of the sort that believes you should put 100% of yourself into your work, but in the sense that you owe something to your job and to the company because they've given you the means to carry our your lifestyle. I figure that a company owes me money for my work, and I owe them time for that money - but I don't owe them my blood, sweat, tears, loyalty, or love.

"'Do what you love' disguises the fact that being able to choose a career primarily for personal reward is a privilege, a sign of socioeconomic class. [...] Elevating certain types of professions to something worthy of love necessarily denigrates the labor of those who do unglamorous work that keeps society functioning [...] Few other professions fuse the personal identity of their workers so intimately with the work output. Because academic research should be done out of pure love, the actual conditions of and compensation for this labor become afterthoughts, if they are considered at all. [...] But emotionally satisfying work is still work, and acknowledging it as such doesn't undermine it in any way. Refusing to acknowledge it, on the other hand, opens the door to exploitation and harms all workers.".

And there's the other two problems: If you do what you love, you are expected to do it for nothing a great deal of the time. Artists are expected to sell their work for next to nothing, or give it away. Teachers/professors work for shit. Social workers work for shit. And, a lot of times some labour is not seen as labour. Art is work, whether you choose to see it as such or not. Teaching someone's kids is work, hard work. Serving up fries to someone who's too lazy to cook for themselves is also damned hard work.

And therein exists problem number three: How we view certain sectors of the work force. We dehumanise people in the service industry because they don't have high-paying, high-skill jobs; we think of ourselves as above grunt work, too good for greasy labour. Me? I always say a sincere thank-you to people in the service sector, because I figure that if I'm too frigging lazy to do something for myself, like cook or wash clothes or transport myself somewhere, then I should be grateful that there's someone out there doing it for me. People in the services aren't your slaves, massah; they're doing you a favour.

"'Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life!' Before succumbing to the intoxicating warmth of that promise, it's critical to ask, "Who, exactly, benefits from making work feel like nonwork?" "Why should workers feel as if they aren't working when they are?"

2014 01 25 - 12:30

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