The dynamic nature of present day work doesn’t bode well with the human spirit. Here’s why.
We are the first generation of workers who study and work more than previous generations, but earn far too less. The loneliness epidemic that is sweeping not just the developed, but developing world as well is case in point. Friends who used to socialize religiously, have now faded into the world of work and family life. Others have moved abroad either for education, to seek work, or have been posted there as part of an onsite job opportunity. The very nature of modern day work, incentivizes learning and growth over socialization and companionship. Enjoying a game of cricket, going for a trek with your best friends, or meeting up for a cup of coffee has now become a thing of the past. Those pastimes have now given way to picking up the kids from school, taking them to soccer practice, going shopping for supplies, or even worse, attending PTA.
For the unmarried, it might be taking classes in certain vocations, attending seminars and conferences, staying back at the office to learn and grow faster, and chasing educational pursuits, which will pay off later in the future. No one wants to be left behind in the corporate rat race. Or even in the unofficial talent race for that matter. Everyone is expected to have skills and talent in our modern day world. Not that those who don’t are looked down upon, but they won’t move forward either.
The era of communal living and societal bonding is officially over. It may happen between families, but even those are impulsive & opportunistic at best. The fabric of work in the industrial age inherently rewards competition over wellness. Having a family is seen as having an edge in the game of life. Except that it’s not!
It’s not a hobby that you take up just to pass the time. Ignoring or ostracizing family members have very real consequences. The same cannot be said for friendships. Such things are just taken as “understood”.
Since family life is the way most people aspire to follow after a certain age, the rest of us are supposed to just “understand” why they aren’t there for us anymore. Once you get into the family life project, you can say goodbye to the next few decades of having the freedom to do whatever you want, when you want.
The family life project is akin to starting a company and playing the role of every employee in it. No one likes it if someone isn’t around at crucial moments, especially if they’ve gone out for something that does not fit in with larger familial goals and objectives. Indulging in any activity that does not contribute to the success of the family is deemed a waste of time and money. That’s the reason you see most people leaving behind their hobbies, talents, and other leisurely pursuits the moment they start a family.
But why are we even discussing family and overpopulation in an article about modern day work?
That’s because it has everything to do with the way we work.
Employees are asked to be okay with graveyard shifts, rotational shifts, weekend work, and everything in between. They must even be comfortable in moving cities at a moments notice. They are asked to be flexible with their schedules, and should be at the beck and call of the company at all times. This leaves the majority of white & blue collar workers friendless, lonely, depressed and extremely fatigued after years of toil.
This particularly increases the aspirational value of family life. When you move cities or countries, you can’t take your friends with you.
But you can take your family.
This line from a Forbes article sums up my point perfectly:
“While Xers haven’t campaigned for togetherness on a societal level, they have sought it in their own lives and families.”
This is the reason the current overpopulation epidemic is connected to the way we live, work, and socialize. Ostracizing the larger society, and dropping friendships in order to pursue a family way of life is not just highly regarded, but also encouraged. No one wants to get back from work to an empty house. But trying to reign in the overpopulation menace is akin to trying to take away someones customers.
The baby care products industry is huge, and growing by the day. We have entire stores dedicated to infant and baby products now. We even have hospitals that specialize in childbirth, which are known as birthing centers. Then there’s daycare. Oh and then there’s children’s hospitals as well! Of course, we had none of this just a few years ago, and were perfectly fine with the way things were. But the industry has to somehow create jobs for all the new entrants right?
Anyone who doesn’t aspire for big things, or is even a wee bit hesitant, is termed unambitious or boring.
You must marry at the right age. You must have children. You must support capitalism by purchasing whatever it produces. Whether you need those items or not, is a completely different matter. We crossed the threshold of “need” long ago. Now it’s all about how well you market and advertise your product. As long as you do it well,someone will buy it. It might not be essential for life, but since it adds to the persona of a person, and boosts their ego, it will be highly regarded by society.
Take perfumes for example. They have absolutely no survival value, other than helping you attract a mate, and generally pleasing others around you. We have an inclination towards novel and futuristic things, and it is this very nature of ours that the industry feeds on. We are ready to get excited and impressed by the latest gizmo on the market. The latest computer, the latest phone, the latest robot, the next super car, mega yacht, and the latest form of entertainment. Yes, they do provide a Dopamine hit to our boring, mundane, and routine lives. But boring, repetitive jobs would not exist in such large numbers, if population growth was controlled in the first place.
There must be some kind of control or regulatory authority over what one can, and cannot produce. Plundering the earth for essentials to feed a growing population is bad enough. Must we even add luxury into the mix?
With all that being said, it is obvious that the earth cannot sustain population growth at current levels of consumption.
So what must give way? Population growth, or consumption patterns? You decide.
P.S. I am well aware that scores of people feel trapped, lonely and isolated even within a family structure. I am in no way implying that family life is a loneliness fix. But that is another topic for another day.
Millennials will be the first generation to earn less than their parents
New research suggests that millennials may be the first to earn less than their predecessors - Generation X.