Documenting the Coming Singularity

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Take This Job and Love It

A new survey conducted by The Conference Board tells us that Americans hate their jobs more than ever. Is this because jobs are becoming more detestable by the day? I think not. Could it be because more Americans than ever have higher expectations than ever? Probably.

Consider if you will the men and women of yesteryear. No need to go back centuries, only a few decades. What if we surveyed the American population coming out of the Depression? "Sir, are you satisfied with your job here in this noisy factory, fitting doohickies to the same whatzises 500 times a day?" Are you crazy? I get to feed my family. Who gives a damn about satisfaction?

Let's ask that post-WWII lady over there in that huge corporate tower, typing up her bosses memos. "Ma'am. Are you satisfied with your job?" Are you kidding? With the extra money I'm making here I can afford to get my kids some decent clothes. I love this job!

OK, I'm speculating on hypothetical people's hypothetical responses to hypothetical questions. However, the statistics do show that people in the recent past liked their jobs more than people today do, and the trend is most pronounced among the youngest category of workers. No one can doubt that jobs have gotten better, so it must be something about the people that's making the difference, and I contend that it has to do primarily with the unrealistic expectations foisted upon us by the media.

Jobs are no longer about feeding and clothing our families. They are about having the money to buy a $50,000 Lexus, a 70-inch plasma HD TV, and the latest video game console. They are about being pampered at work, having the flexibility to come and go as we please, and the opportunity to work at something that gives us a sense of complete fulfillment.

Among workers under the age of 25, only 39 percent say they are satisfied with their jobs. They have grown up in a time of plenty, when you can get a job if you want a job and the basic necessities are guaranteed, job or no job. Consider that these halcyon days may not be continuous. We may again be forced to endure periods of less than idyllic circumstances. Perhaps the day will come when we will have to take this job and love it.