|The DWYL-inspired apartment of designer Jessica Walsh. Slate Magazine article.|
I got a little torn up this morning reading this article in Slate Magazine and wanted to see what your thoughts are. The title along, "Stop Saying 'Do What you Love, Love What you Do,' It Devalues Actual Work" was the first thing that set me off. "Actual work" or "real job" are pessimistic terms applied to the work people sometimes do to support their "other jobs" such as in the field of the arts, but perhaps all of the jobs they do are enjoyable in some manner or another?
This article is, in my opinion, not well written or researched (it reads like a well-intentioned class assignment that is all over the charts- can we say THESIS?), and biased. I'm going to leave out a rant on internships, because I don't think they should have tacked on something about it at the end after a long diatribe of too many other things. I'm also going to not go into the flustering smack in the face to people in academia who don't pursue high-paying careers such as law. However, I do want to share some of my thoughts related to other components of the article.
I agree with the component that people at the top of high-paying jobs say they enjoy their jobs and possibly overlook those lower down the chain of command who support their happiness. Exploitation is not cool, but here are a few things I took major issue with:
"“Do what you love” disguises the fact that being able to choose a career primarily for personal reward is a privilege, a sign of socioeconomic class. Even if a self-employed graphic designer had parents who could pay for art school and co-sign a lease for a slick Brooklyn apartment, she can bestow DWYL as career advice upon those covetous of her success."
- implies that only elitist individuals, or those with a certain class status pursue work that they enjoy. As a potter and co-owner of a farm, I can tell you that we enjoy what we do, are not high class, and don't make a lot of money. The article also implies a racial division, which I also disagree with, particularly on the level of farming. We have met more people of more nationalities and color in the low-wage profession of farming. I have been told on numerous occasions to pursue what I love and find a way to do what I enjoy, and though the process has been frustrating at times, it certainly has its rewards. I grew up being told in various capacities that being an artist was not a way to make a living- that it didn't make money, that bums were artists, or that it wasn't "respectable." It took me over 20 years of pursuing various things to fall right back where I wanted to be - an artist and a potter. I may also be able to wax eloquently on the various intricacies of historic pottery or decorative arts, but that has become a part of my art and my career.
"Yet arduous, low-wage work is what ever more Americans do and will be doing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the two fastest-growing occupations projected until 2020 are “personal care aide” and “home care aide,” with average salaries in 2010 of $19,640 per year and $20,560 per year, respectively. Elevating certain types of professions to something worthy of love necessarily denigrates the labor of those who do unglamorous work that keeps society functioning, especially the crucial work of caregivers."
- had me charged in a number of ways. How dare they imply that care giving, though sometimes of low wage, is not an enjoyable profession?! I have to wonder if the author ever stooped (and I say stooped because I think the author is biased and perhaps elitist themselves) to talking to a low-wage worker in many professions. Some may like the low-wage work on a different level with just being able to have weekends, perhaps be at home in the evenings, etc. We cannot assume that because someone does not have a high-paying job that they are lazy or unmotivated, or even that they do not like what they do to some degree. Someone told me the other day about a friend who took a long time to find what they really enjoyed doing. When they did find what they enjoyed, it turned out to be a garbage man. Why? Because they had the chance to find treasures that people threw out, and that was rewarding and enjoyable to them.
The final passage-
"Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life! Before succumbing to the intoxicating warmth of that promise, it’s critical to ask, “Who, exactly, benefits from making work feel like nonwork?” “Why should workers feel as if they aren’t working when they are?” In masking the very exploitative mechanisms of labor that it fuels, DWYL is, in fact, the most perfect ideological tool of capitalism. If we acknowledged all of our work as work, we could set appropriate limits for it, demanding fair compensation and humane schedules that allow for family and leisure time.
And if we did that, more of us could get around to doing what it is we really love"
- this whole paragraph is all over the place. Again, I agree that exploitation is not cool (that could have been a whole separate article on its own), but I don't know that making work feel like nonwork is the point. I know I am working by the strain of muscles, the lack of sleep, and the long days, but my work feels rewarding to me. If everyone enjoyed their work in the same capacity, or all enjoyed the same work, we'd be screwed out of jobs!
Perhaps I am reading into all of this a little far, but I think the author needs to redraft and spend some time looking over professions and the absurd emphasis that money is happiness, and only work that makes a lot of money could be rewarding.
What do you think?