• rohan
    10
    So what I mean with this question is the following.

    I assume based on anecdotal, observational and general knowledge gathered from various sources throughout my life, that most people don't enjoy their jobs. But what we all know with a high degree of certainty is that the need to work a job is a big part of almost every human beings life. What I mean with big part, is that it just takes a significant chunk of a human beings time and time is one of the most essential resources of a human being.

    In western contemporary culture, doesn't seem to place any value on working a job or doing something consistently (even if its not particularly exciting) that is generally speaking productive. Western Culture mostly seems to associate the former things with dread and are seen as soul-draining.

    For example, if you talk with people about some talent show like 'The Voice' for example. I can guarantee most people will light up, some kind of excitment or sparkle in their eye will ensue. They'll most likely be completely engrossed in the conversation topic. Ofcourse some people won't but replace 'The Voice' with, Music, video games, sports etc..

    Now when it comes to the topic of jobs or solving problems in general, people are completely absent. Have you ever heard people talk about inventing robots or inventing AI or a plant based diet? Whenever you bring up such a topic, people just completely shut off. But I would say its these things that are most essential to human life and progression and such.

    But its also these things that take alot of time/consistency and alot of that time will be spent with things that are not particularly interesting. Or another way of saying it, it seems western culture completely disregards or spends no value on the idea of consistency and spending alot of time on something, even if its not interesting, to solve problems. But it seems that its the thing that actually take large amounts of time and consistency and maybe not so exciting moments that seem to bring the most progress to humanity. And maybe paradoxically its actually the cultural conditiong of the west, that makes you associate consistency with dread, and that it doesn't actually have to be that way, but that its just ingrained deeply into most people living today on earth.

    Thanks for reading.
  • Chany
    352
    I disagree with your assessment of western culture not valuing productive jobs. If, by "western culture," you mean "artwork and similar media," you might have an argument there, as that is a common theme in a good amount of art we see. However, if you use "western culture" in a broader sense, in the sense that includes more than art, but the lifestyles and ideals of the society, I think the opposite is true. There is an extreme amount of social pressure to do something "productive" in society; usually, this is because "productive" fields are in higher demand than "unproductive" fields, so they pay better and are seen as more financially stable, thus making them "smart" choices. Tell people you are going for a degree to become a doctor, engineer, lawyer, businessperson, corporate scientist, or similar job and expect a lot of smiles and follow up questions about particulars (what do you want to with that). Tell people you are going for a degree to become an artist, philosopher, sociologist, or something similar and watch as polite people's eyes slightly unfocus as they try to think of a way to carry on the conversation, while not so polite people ask questions like "what are you going to do with that?"

    Even how we talk to each other reveals how much we value work and what you do. When meeting someone new, one of the first questions you ask them is some permutation of "what do you do for a living?" I would not be surprised if it is the next one most people say after "what is your name?" Most of the art produced that champions the "unproductive" fields and aspects of life is a reflection of western culture's job-focused obsession. It resonates with people particularly because they feel their jobs are oppressive and boring. The artist is seen as free and above the concerns of this job cycle, doing what they want to do, much like the viewer of a story about an artist struggling to make it and eventually succeeding wishes they could do. Think of the movie "Office Space." The conclusion and final speech of the movie is that practically no one likes their job, so you find something you can tolerate and go from there. Do you think the majority of people working right now enjoy their jobs or even get any type of fulfillment other than the money and social status that comes with it?

    The reason we do not talk about "productive" topics to be consistent (whatever that means) is for a multitude of reasons. First, work is draining. We already spend a vast majority of our time doing things we do not really want to, so why would anyone want to spend their free time doing work outside of work if they do not have to? Second, as mentioned, these topics tend to be uninteresting, so talking about them with most people will not be socially productive. Third, a lot of topics that are important to discuss can turn into a can of worms. Talking about anything related to politics, philosophy, religion, economics, and such can turn nice talk into anything ranging from awkward to angry. You learn not talk to anyone about these topics rather quickly. Fourth, people probably do not have knowledge on the topics, so discussions tend to exclude one or both of the parties. I love philosophy, but there are topics I do not know about, so when people talk about these topics, I do not have anything to discuss, so I avoid these discussions. Lastly, and this is most important, pragmatically, I do not see how people with no real working knowledge of a subject discussing and working on the subject aids in its progress. For example, robotics may be important, but most people have no idea on how AI works, let alone on a level required to talk about robotics. At best, you have people talking about weird hypothetical scenarios with no pragmatic basis. At worst, you get people who think they know how to progress, but have no idea how nonsensical their ideas really are.
  • rohan
    10
    You're right.
  • Thorongil
    3.2k
    I'd say what you describe is true of people everywhere.
  • Baden
    15.7k

    I think the objects of your criticism stem from modern consumer culture, which is an offshoot of western culture but not the root. At root western culture is enlightenment culture and encourages questioning, innovation and change as @Chany pointed to. It is, unlike most cultures that have ever existed, by nature dynamic rather than static and on the whole that's a good thing. But because of it's dynamism and openness it has led to the growth of consumer culture, which propagates a warped view of life along the lines of:

    1) Work (=pain=bad).
    2) Consumption and leisure (=pleasure=good).
    3) Do 1) if and only if it's necessary to facilitate 2).

    Which leads to confusion, angst and so on. (I have all these things but I'm not happy.Why oh why? I better consume some therapy or drugs or...and so on)

    On talk, people tend to talk about crap because we're programmed to. The stuff that was on our minds over evolutionary time: "That plant is poisonous", "This is where the berries are", "Jim is unstrustworthy" tended to be worth repeating - it was often a matter of life and death. But we're now stuck with a reward system designed for low volume relatively high quality information in a context of high volume relatively low quality information. Cue lots of perverse conditioning towards pointless verbal interactions that eventually lead to feelings of emptiness and dissatisfaction.

    And the same principle applies to just about everything we consume. We weren't supposed to have so much of it, and our bodies can only produce so much pleasure for us before they become exhausted or damaged etc.

    And what's the cure for this? Well, work. But when it's work we don't identify with or, to put it another way, is not essential enough to who we are for us to want to identify with, we're likely only to do enough to refresh our systems for the next battering of low quality material and informational intake.

    In short, we need to short circuit our own psychologies in order to negotiate a set-up that is designed to make us miserable, and that set-up is modern consumer culture, a product of, but certainly not limited to, western culture.
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