B.S. jobs

Do you really like your job ? Do you really think your job is useful to somebody ? If you ask the question to yourself, just once, you probably have a bs job.

This book was released in 2018, a few months later a colleague at work recommended reading it to me. This book had a real success in several countries and I understand it because the book is really good. Moreover you can read a description of your own work, and people like it when you talk about them.

The author, David Graeber, explained that he received a ton of messages from people saying their jobs are useless, or at least they don’t understand the purpose of it. He decided to dig a little bit deeper in the problem. He also understood that many people are in the same situation at work but they are too afraid to talk about it and lose their jobs. A really good part of the book is when David Graeber explained how he has categorized the types of BS jobs after studying all these messages. To be honest, I don’t really remember how he was able to receive messages about this because I read this book many months ago, I didn’t prepare anything for this blog post (as I’m not a real book reviewer, it’s just my feeling).


* Flunkies : These are the type of jobs whose reason for existence is to make others feel important.

* Goons : Not the actual gangsters, who work hard at creating and growing a business of sorts, but those who have an element of aggression in their roles.

* Duct tapers : The term duct tapers comes from the software industry and refers to those who try to make two systems, designed separately for different tasks, work together. These people are there to solve a problem that shouldn’t exist in the first place. They are often underlings who undo the damage done by their managers.

* Box tickers : Creating work to show everyone that something is being done.

* Taskmasters : These create work for others to do. But if they suddenly disappeared the work would still be done.

It was amazing to discuss with my colleagues and realize we all have BS jobs ! I’m working in a big international company. Most of the work is divided into small steps and actions and each step is performed by several departments in several countries. As explained in the book, it is just to make things more complex and it avoids seeing reality. My colleague in front of me in the openspace (yes it was pre-pandemic) is just a box ticker. We laugh a lot about it. He just has things to do then he can tick the box in his list. Why does he do this ? He doesn’t know, he’s just trying to move forward and thick a reasonable amount of boxes everyday. That’s work and that’s it. All of us have lost the meaning of the work, the firm is so big, we are lost.

Does the world need what we are doing ? I don’t think so. During the 1st lockdown, we all see that important jobs are nurses, garbage collectors, doctors, farmers… Does my company need the work we are doing ? Not really, the firm doesn’t need everybody, that’s why during a financial crisis, big companies can fire people. In the book, the author explains that we all should work 15 hours per week. That’s more than the 4 hours week by Tim Ferriss (another book we’ll talk about later). Money is infinite but not time. I would love to work only 15 hours. The idea is that with automation and A.I. it’s really possible to work less with more productivity. The average number of work hours per week didn’t change that much for the past decade despite the fact that we are all more productive with these digital tools and automation. This gain in productivity per employee is great for big companies, it changes nothing for the people at the bottom of the scale. Big companies are making more profit than ever so it’s great for few people (people at the top of these companies). The book of David Graeber is militant in a certain way. He suggests to these big companies to decrease the number of working hours for all their employees. As they are more productive than 20 years ago, the cost would be the same. These companies could also hire 2 people for the same job and ask them to work only 15 hours per week and it will lower unemployment. The new technologies and Progress should be at the advantage of the masses. I'm also waiting for a robot or my clone to do my job.

Of course if you are a self entrepreneur, it should sound ridiculous to you. When you run your own business, 15 hours is not enough. Maybe it’s not enough at the beginning but at a certain point, money should work for you and you may work less than 15 hours per week. Of course I like this idea and I’m in the process of finding out how to achieve this. I realized that I have a BS job. This is the system, I’m not an activist, I don’t try to change the system (maybe I'm getting too old). I just would like to find my way, do things that make sense for me and earn money to live the life I love. It’s not an easy one to answer this question : what is the main goal of your life ?

Due to the remote work during the pandemic, I’ve saved a lot of hours per week, due to the end of commuting to go to work. I’ve decided to use this free time to work on side hustles : writing, making music and freelance consultancy around skills I’ve learned at my regular job. In the end, this kind of work does make sense to me and I enjoy doing things I choose. It would be great to do these things for a living and stop this insane BS job.

I do recommend reading this book, it could open your eyes on your professional life. It’s a little bit too long, you could disagree with the opinion at the end, there are also too many examples of people’s jobs but the overall experience reading it is good. If you don’t have enough time, you could also read this awesome blog.

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