Does it matter that you know you have a BS job?

Following several long and thoughtful motorway journeys which indulged my tendency to over-think everything currently wrong in my life, and the prescient publication of this article by Oliver Burkeman (“do you have a bullshit job?”), I have reached the following diagrammatic conclusion:

BS job mind map, or Gosh I Am Miserable

This little thought-map is transcribed below for the benefit of (hmmm… ) myself mainly, and other readers if I still have any beyond my opening self-indulgent sentence, which probably has all the magnetic appeal of your least favourite neighbour enthusiastically trying to tell you about his dream last night. Anyway, my logic runs as follows:

I hate my job (IHMJ) –> BECAUSE –> The work is meaningless and pointless as a broken pencil

AND –> It  is a BS job which no one would miss if it wasn’t there… in fact most of my immediate team are doing stuff no one [beyond our headquarters colleagues] would miss, if at all

AND –> my old job paid more and was psychologically rewarding in terms of mastering a useful skill and improving stuff in real terms

BUT NOW –> it’s not either of those things

WHICH CAUSES –> “psychological violence”, a knotting in the stomach, a sense of doom, and most importantly (agreeing with above Burkeman article) how can one even begin to speak of dignity in labour when one secretly feels one’s job should not exist?

THUS –> I am becoming desperately energetic and almost manic in other parts of my life, determined to feed the “make a difference” monster which lurks in my psyche, and to compensate for the fact that IHMJ

THEREFORE –> At home in the last month I have: made-over a desk, built a window seat from reclaimed and found materials, made a boxed and buttoned seat cushion from an old padded headboard, photographed and catalogued all my clothes to go on my Stylebook app, redecorated the big bedroom, made-over another, smaller desk, and made a cosy curtained bed for the youngest. (and that’s only the things I can remember)

HOWEVER –> I am still not satisfied or able to enjoy my efforts

BECAUSE –> I still HMJ … and I don’t know what to do about it.

Clearly, being busy in other life areas does not solve the problem. At the moment, I am consciously deciding not to do anything about it.

Does it matter? OK, so it’s not good that the psychological contract I used to have with my organisation is broken: pay and intellectual reward for doing things I’m good at, has been replaced by less pay and no intellectual reward for busywork which I can’t see the point in. However, “someone” (apparently) can see the point of the work. I’m still employed. I can still keep my family warm and well fed. I can still create and make a difference in other areas of my life. I’m not leaching off the state via the benefits system. I’m not revolting. I’m still buying crap I don’t need in order to support our capitalist economy. But if How We Spend Our Days = How We Spend Our Lives, it’s a bit of a waste.

Soul-destroying? Maybe. Sometimes.

Complacent? Yes.

Lobotomised? Absolutely.

Like the “Clarkson” (TV chat show) studio graphic of the world map, with a big blank where the USA should be, my mental image of my week day has a great big blank empty space between arriving and leaving the office. I cease to exist – at best, I go a bit watery and see-through, like Michael J Fox in Back to the Future. It’s not really me though. Metaphorically speaking, my “why chromosome” has to be deposited in a locker between the car park and the staff entrance because I feel it’s no longer welcome on the office floor.


13 thoughts on “Does it matter that you know you have a BS job?

  1. haha! i love this one.
    especially the diagram.
    i think there should be a society for people afflicted with it. some sort of badge. perhaps a sponsored fun run to support them.

  2. Reblogged this on thinkpurpose and commented:
    THOUSANDS of people are going into work today who have some kind of cushy desk job, inside sitting down in the warm, but still feel the existential pangs of despair at going through the motions of pointless action in return for money. They should read this post!
    It won’t cheer anybody up, they’ll still have a bullshit job, but at least they know THEY’RE NOT ALONE.
    Still with a stupid job though.

    • Well yes, that’s the obvious solution. But I’m too bitter and naively hopeful to do that right now: hopeful that the culture will change for the better, mixed with bitter that I could have left under voluntary redundancy but was duped into thinking this job would be worthwhile like the last one…

  3. My girlfriend is a nurse at a hospital – she has a proper non-bullshit job. When I tell her about my day in my bullshit job she either looks at me with utter bemusement, or starts to giggle uncontrollably.

    • My husband is a brewer. His work has its own problems but at least he makes something people truly want. When we talk about work, it’s in two different languages. I sometimes almost have an out of body experience when I’m in (e.g.) a programme board meeting, talking the crap that’s expected of you in such environments, and wonder if he’d even recognise me.

  4. Beancounters often don’t know what actually happens on the frontline (they say in their defence they’re too busy counting beans), so they defer the budget control to the senior managers, who have a vested interest in empire-building and having as many minions as possible that they “supervise” so they can inflate their ego and importance and translate it into salary.

    In other words, they really don’t give a brass razoo whether coal-face/front-line staff are happy or not.

  5. Oh yes. ISO management accreditation sucks the blood out of all it preys on. What a stroke of genius for keeping demobbed warrant officers employed. Pity it has outlived its original purpose.

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