I'm not nearly as jaded as I thought

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, April 16, 2008, 4:16 PM | comments: 5

I think one of the things that I worry about in terms of my own personality is that I've become jaded, or that I've lost the idealism I had when I was in college. As is often the case, a little perspective corrects me.

Given my previous post about work hours, I was interested to keep following the comments on that post I referenced from 37signals. That's when I came across this in the comments...

Further, the notions that we can: ‘find freedom’, ‘exercise ownership .. of happiness’, and ‘choose interactions’ is again, the me-generation, post-modern illusion. Here’s why: it again espouses the belief that each of us can sit on our own mountaintops, controlling our happiness (exercising ownership), being free, etc.

This freedom doesn’t exist - people have tried to live this way before (the Romans and British come to mind) - and it isn’t freedom. It’s about higher degrees of choice making based on false visions of self-fulfillment and enlightenment. It’s the same lunacy that means that when you’ve reached the apex, feeling it’s not enough, you then have to learn about Kaballah in order to “really” find freedom.


How horrible is that? That doesn't sound like someone who is wise, it sounds like someone who has been so beaten into the ground and is jaded that there's no hope.

American culture, among other things, seems to indicate that looking out for your own happiness is selfish and wrong. I don't get that, especially as it relates to work and being a functioning part of society. You've got all kinds of people saying that there's this awful "me generation" or some such nonsense, in a country that is still the richest in the world yet takes the least amount of vacation of any industrialized nation.

My grandfather worked for the same place for more than 30 years and retired. That was how it was done, and he's enjoying a comfortable retirement. My parents have had many jobs, career changes and no allegiance to them on the part of their employers.

Now in my generation, we have a rapidly evolving economy with new industries that didn't even exist ten years ago. Things like "green tech" will spawn countless new industries in another ten years. Everything has changed when it comes to how we fit into The System. What some see as selfishness to me is self preservation, and the avoidance of crap our parents had to deal with.

I firmly believe that the manifestation of this is a strong desire to do something we can really believe in. Unfortunately, the focus seems to be on kids graduating from college expecting things to be easy or coddled or whatever, but come on... that's not a majority, and it's certainly not any different than any generation before us. (As an aside, who can blame those kids when the grown ups were selling them an easy life by way of college all through high school?)

I firmly believe that anything is possible when it comes to finding satisfying work and meaningful connections with others, and doing so requires that you challenge what is perceived as truth. No one has it all figured out, so why would you rely on others who believe they have?


CPLady, April 16, 2008, 9:23 PM #

I see nothing wrong with looking out for your own happiness...so long as it's not at the EXPENSE of others.

Take, for example, a friend of mine who went through a period of deep depression and has now found happiness. How? He's involved in a ton of different activities, got voted to be the head of a scifi club and his social life has soared. But none of these things include his wife or two kids. I'm glad he's happy, but I feel very sorry for his wife.

Gordon has found happiness too. He's working 4 days a week at a job that pays very little, but he loves it. It's nice having such a happy husband.

I'm still waiting for my turn.

Anon, April 16, 2008, 10:06 PM #

Beaten into the ground, eh... no hope, eh... Wow, man, you're really displaying a lot of compassion, and pretending you know me and what I think through a few posts.

You missed some of the nuance of my post, and distorted my view. I never said "don't pursue happiness", or that a person can't "be" happy. I only said notions of control re: happiness are flawed, because "control" itself is mis-thought in our society.

Maybe I should explain that my core beliefs negate an "ego-self". I still operate from those places just like everybody else, but overall I find them less important than many. What's important to me, is the same thing that was probably important to your grandfather: a well ordered society which makes sense. Ours doesn't.

Neuski, April 16, 2008, 10:16 PM #

You're giving too much control to society, Anon. Only you control your life.

Jeff, April 16, 2008, 10:49 PM #

Funny, he didn't think the world made sense either when the world was a button push away from nuclear oblivion. I also find it ironic that you think our society doesn't make sense, but yet are content to live within the bounds of the system.

And who left it to you to define "well ordered?" Tyler is right... you give up too much control.

Anonymous Stalker, April 17, 2008, 2:15 PM #

Things are different in the UK - or at least, they were when I left 8 years ago. From what I've seen over here in the US, we work harder, but there's a certain pride (for the most part) in the work being done.

I find the work ethic over here much more to my liking, and though I miss the endless vacation days of my old jobs back in Blightly, at least now I can have some self-respect in my work life.

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