“I learned that the world of men as it exists today is a bureaucracy. This is an obvious truth, of course, though it is also one the ignorance of which causes great suffering.
“But moreover, I discovered, in the only way that a man ever really learns anything important, the real skill that is required to succeed in a bureaucracy. I mean really succeed: do good, make a difference, serve. I discovered the key. This key is not efficiency, or probity, or insight, or wisdom. It is not political cunning, interpersonal skills, raw IQ, loyalty, vision, or any of the qualities that the bureaucratic world calls virtues, and tests for. The key is a certain capacity that underlies all these qualities, rather the way that an ability to breathe and pump blood underlies all thought and action.
“The underlying bureaucratic key is the ability to deal with boredom. To function effectively in an environment that precludes everything vital and human. To breathe, so to speak, without air.
“The key is the ability, whether innate or conditioned, to find the other side of the rote, the picayune, the meaningless, the repetitive, the pointlessly complex. To be, in a word, unborable.
“It is the key to modern life. If you are immune to boredom, there is literally nothing you cannot accomplish.”
There's a balance to strike. You want to be able to be bored (when I worked at a government elections office for 8 months). But you also want to have the drive to not be bored anymore (when I automated away my job and got in a lot of trouble).
Computers truly are magic.
Imagine teaching coding skills to an impatient friend. “Okay, today we’re going to learn about Node package management and resolving merge conflicts!”
Lisa: a challenge I could do!
Even when we "solve hard problems", they mostly come down to convincing a computer to process some mundane data faster.
At the end of the day, we spend all day in front of a monitor talking to the most pedantic bureaucracy ever made, one with no human leeway unless explicitly specified.
But we have so many tricks to convince ourselves we're not bored or boring! We "automate", "solve hard problems", and "optimize".
Absolutely beautiful. It so wonderfully captures the essence of modern day work life so well.
This is also pertinent to much of corporate america as well. Corporate office jobs are prone to magic of ennui and boredom.
I've often wondered how people dealt with office work or jobs before the internet? Did they play solitaire and minesweeper all day?