Read this interesting article Your Lifestyle has already been designed recently, where the writer reflects on his “consumption habits, work life, and money-time relationships” upon rejoining the corporate world after spending 9 months travelling (and without an income).
Within days of “normal working life”, he notices that
“the more wholesome activities are quickly dropping out of my life: walking, exercising, reading, meditating, and extra writing.
The one conspicuous similarity between these activities is that they cost little or no money, but they take time.
Suddenly I have a lot more money and a lot less time, which means I have a lot more in common with the typical working North American than I did a few months ago.”
Summing up his insights about the 40 hour workweek as a “design” by corporations, he writes:
We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.
Western economies, particularly that of the United States, have been built in a very calculated manner on gratification, addiction, and unnecessary spending. We spend to cheer ourselves up, to reward ourselves, to celebrate, to fix problems, to elevate our status, and to alleviate boredom.
While perhaps too “harsh” in the way he pins down the “real reason for the forty hour workweek” on corporations, it was most interesting to read this article just after I had finished reading “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley (available as e-book from National Library or pdf file here) which had some rather similar themes (of a future dystopian world where everyone is kept happy through “engineering” or “design” by “controllers”). And another interesting thing was how SY had already thought about some of these ideas even before starting to work!! 🙂
A good article to look back on, when we find that we have “no time” or have an urge to buy stuff!!
(thanks to Dennis Yeo for sharing the article :))
(see also my previous post On Idleness)