Apparently it’s been a month since I wrote Twitch. (Incidentally, as with many things I’ve written, they only have titles because the page format offers me a place to put one, and/or because I borderline-obsessively title everything in my head. So often not for any externally good reason). In a deep attempt to not go off the deep end of introspection, I’ll resist the urge to simply write about how when I came to this page I was intending to write something else, then WordPress informed me that it had been a month since I wrote Twitch, so I wrote about that instead.
…Yeah, you get the idea.
So my initial premise here was the phrase ‘challenge accepted’. It’s a little bell that rings in my head whenever I read something A: good in some way, written by someone I personally care about, or B: when something meh is written by someone I don’t personally care about. And at some other times too, but mainly from the above A and B. I count myself as exceptionally fortunate to have many of the friends/associates that I do. And not for the normal oh-they-are-so-nice reasons that people typically trot out here. Those things are certainly true, and important, but not what I care about here. I count myself as fortunate because I am oft surrounded by people who do things. As in, things they actually want to do. Like writing. Or painting. Or accounting. That last one isn’t a joke by the way. The reason these things affect me is that, on the overwhelming whole this doesn’t appear to be true. Most people (meaning the generalised populace of England) don’t appear to do shit all that they want, as an actual pursuit. I’m really not slagging off English people (or people as a whole), but this really does seem to be how it is. I’ve worked a number of jobs, and many of them have been (in some capacity) customer service. And the overwhelming majority of people I’ve worked for and alongside, as well as the overwhelming majority of people I’ve served, all appear to do shit all that they actually want.
As part of writing this, I’ve actively tried to think back over the last 3-4 years of my life, and the jobs I’ve held. The list reads: Call centre, data analyst, admin, repairperson, bank cashier. That’s five distinct jobs. Four of which worked heavily with colleagues, or customers, or both. I literally cannot think of a single person, at any of those places of employment, who was doing something they wanted – inside work or out. There are two cases that might come halfway to this, but in both cases they fall short of the mark.
The first is a data analyst who was working towards a postgrad in councilling. But unfortunately they fail, on the simple basis that I have never, ever seen them actually connect with anyone. Ever. They appear to want to be a councillor for just that, appearance. Respectability and a career in helping people, all quite possibly without…actually wanting to help people? It’s entirely possible I’m being horribly unfair, and they have a heart, and I’m being a total prick. BUT. This is honestly how they appear to be.
The second is actually a number of people, from the repair job. There was an entire team of around six or seven. And they liked their jobs. But it was still just a job to them. No one was fulfilling any deep desires. It was just…an okay job. I was insanely envious of these guys at the time, and still kind of am, which tells you how low the bar really is. I was envious of this group of people because they didn’t mind their jobs. Most of them worked there because they fell into the job one way or another. And then the company was…okay (i.e. not actively dickish), and their management was…okay (i.e. rarely actively dickish), and their immediate supervisor was a fucking boss. She got shit done. She cared about her team. She looked out for her team, and they in turn looked out for her.
But I’m being specific here, I’m talking about people doing something they want to do. Not ambivilance, active desire. I think I know a reason for this. And here some people might start to roll their eyes a little, but do me a favour and reserve your finger-twirl-at-temple gestures for just one moment. I think it’s because our culture actively punishes people who do do things they want. The twin chains that are the fetishisation of work (any work) and the massive rise in consumerism leads to a state of affairs where if you don’t have a job (by which I mean a 9-to-5-working-for-a-company job) then you are derided as being either feckless, lazy, arrogant, or stupid. The very best you can hope for if you work in a non-standard job is that people will politely applaud, and then skeptically ask you what your real job is. Failing that, people will regard you as slightly odd. “Oh, you’re a theoretical mathmatician, that sounds…interesting.”
I’m fucking calling it now, anyone who says “…interesting” in that certain tone (you know the one) needs to shut the fuck up forever. Or at least just be honest and say what they mean, which is always some variation on “that doesn’t sound very good, but I don’t want to be impolite.” Except of course you already are. If I look around and drop my voice before saying a racial slur, it doesn’t mean I’m being more polite, it just means I don’t want people to call me on it.
Where the fuck was I?
The alternate line that runs in my head, and also contestor for title slot, is ‘Grit teeth. Head down. Go.’ This being the other, slightly more combative line that pings in my head at these times.
Jumbled up with my original point (somewhere, remember that?) is the other central point – who am I writing for? It’s actually a fairly big thing to try and pick apart, and worthy of it’s own space to examine (e.g. another post sometime). But for now, simply know that it’s there.