As the arguments against work gain steam, it’s important to remember that many reports lack nuance.
Corporate propaganda screams that young folks don’t want to work, trying to demonize an entire generation as lazy, entitled brats who refuse to contribute.
That’s not the truth. People do want to work; they don’t want to be exploited.
Dream Jobs vs. Dream Life
The popular Antiwork community on Reddit is renowned for sharing views about, well, not working. After a disastrous Fox News interview, the sub became a laughing stock of the Boomer generation, and the stereotype that it’s filled with lazy people who don’t want to do their fair share grew.
However, the community showed its true beliefs after one member posted a meme about dream jobs.
I Don’t Dream of Labor
Jobs are the focal point of our society. We ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, expecting to hear things like “fireman,” “teacher,” or “doctor.”
We talk about dream jobs as if they’re the pinnacle of our achievement.
One community member shared a meme attempting to highlight the backward way we think about work and life. The cartoon from Work Chronicles shows two people talking about work. The first asks, “What’s your dream job,” and the other simply says, “I don’t dream about labor,” leaving the first to rethink his entire outlook on life.
The cartoon reminds us of the famous John Lennon story, where a teacher asked young Lennon what he wanted to be when he grew up. Lennon answered, “Happy.”
The teacher said, “You didn’t understand the assignment,” Lennon retorted, “You don’t understand life.”
Work isn’t All Bad
Although we should all strive for happiness in our lives, members of the antiwork community were quick to point out the cartoon’s lack of nuance.
Labor isn’t always bad. Work isn’t always bad. Dream jobs exist, and many of us dream of doing something productive with our lives.
The problem isn’t work itself; it’s the exploitative nature of the capitalistic system.
“You can absolutely dream of a job. Whether or not that dream is feasible in today’s capitalism h*ll scape is another matter entirely,” stated one user.
“I’m not here because I oppose work completely,” added another. “I’m here because I oppose predatory, toxic work practices and culture. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming of spending your days employed doing something you would love to do.”
“Labor is the act of creating, of repairing, of maintaining, of service. Labor is beautiful: what capitalism has done to it is not,” shared a third.
Members used the opportunity to share their dream jobs.
“I would love to be able to make a living off of just making music,” said one user.
“My dream job would be to work with rescue cats all day,” shared another.
“I’d like to be a tailor,” replied a third. “Have a small shop in a city where I live on the second floor. Clients from all walks of life who need an affordable yet well-made suit would come into my shop in the morning, and I’d have a large room with all my fabrics and buttons and suits to show my clients. You know, a pleasant life.”
The conversation highlighted an oft-missed part of the antiwork movement: people want to work.
What People Want Out of Work
People want to work, but they want their work to have meaning. They want to help people, create things, and feel like their actions matter.
But they also want to be treated fairly, earn enough money, and have a good work-life balance.
“Lots of jobs could probably be “dream jobs” if workers weren’t coerced into being overworked, underpaid, mismanaged, & mistreated for most of their waking hours just to “earn” the right to exist by generating more profits for others,” explained one user.
Shifting Our Work Culture Would Solve a Lot of Problems
America’s toxic work culture led to the antiwork movement. People don’t see the point of working long hours at menial jobs with horrible bosses and meager pay that isn’t enough to survive.
If we change our profits above all attitude and focus on creating work environments that work with people rather than against them, we will see a shift in attitudes about work.
When you dig into the real reasons people are antiwork, you can’t help but agree with them.