Thursday, November 30, 2006

Society found wanting

As a follow-up to my recent post on the “bullshit society”, I’ve been reading Corinne Maier’s exposé of the corporate world “Hello Laziness”, the English translation of “Bonjour Paresse”.

Maier laments the dumbing down of higher education and the devaluation of the university degree which has steadily occurred over the last few decades:

“The 1960s faith in social progress and job security is long behind us. There’s a bitter wind blowing, and hordes of overqualified people are trying to seek shelter, begging for a job in admin, shuffling paperclips. [I’ve been in jobs where this was certainly the case – CW].
Business offers little hope for the future. Generations to come will need ever better qualifications in order to do less worthwhile jobs, and to perform less inspiring tasks. […]
Postmen, bank clerks and railway ticket inspectors now seem to require a degree – a bit of paper that only fifty years ago would have defined you as an intellectual.”

Not as far-fetched an observation as it may seem.

If you’re at a party making casual conversation how many times do you hear the line “I work in business” or “I work in IT”, with very little notion of how these people actually spend their working day. Maier pounces on this increasingly common phenomena, adding that “no-one, absolutely no-one, will ask, ‘What do you do?’ or even ‘What kind of business?’”
Of course you’re less likely to hear someone say “I’m a blacksmith”, “I’m a taxidermist” or “I’m a falconer”. Society and the workplace has become boring by default.

To say that traditional trades and ways of life are being swallowed up by the monster of global capitalism, rapid urbanisation and technology is perhaps a tad dramatic. We do need to move with the times and although western society is certainly becoming more affluent, this affluence has come at a price.

The business world needs to ditch the nonsensical jargon and start calling a spade a spade. A generation of jobseekers will be better off for it.


Lorainne said...

tried to post a comment 3 bleedin' times today so just testing if it's working....

Lorainne said...

Ciaran - since graduating I worked in marketing, sales and recruitment consultancy. I enjoyed work (really) because it was a fun atmosphere, there was good office banter and collegues were a laugh - we also used to get to go to a lot of social events as a result of the job. However i began to feel dissatisfied to the point where I would think 'what am I doing here - am I really benefitting anyone by being here or just wasting my life in a meaningless job?' This is why I decided to become a teacher - I wanted to feel there was a point to my work other than money - that I was doing something for someone. I have found the other teachers to be just as much fun as my colleagues in sales (in fact they are more fun as they tend to be interested in discussing a wider range of topics rather than basing their whole life around materialistic things). Also being around teenagers every day makes me feel energised (even when they misbehave). And now when I go out and people ask me what I do I can feel less like an evil and selfish capitalist (which I never have been - I just 'fell' into sales as it was an easy job to get after uni when I didn't know what I wanted to do).

Parnell said...

Agreed the careerists vocabulary has taken a bit of a caustic twist eg, “Industrial hygiene disposal local government officer”, Maybe its just me but I liked it better when they called, bin men, as for all the IT consultancy its just a bastardisation of the career description.