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I always wonder what people who complain about the 9-5 feel should be the alternative.

People need hope and agency to find meaning. The problem is not that people work between 9:00AM-5:00PM, it's that their job overwhelms the rest of their life with demands that they have no control over and cannot ever hope to escape.

If you are a well-compensated tech worker, you probably have some measure of control over what you work on, even if that occasionally means voting with your feet. And you are probably able to save enough to leave and arbitrarily pursue your passions at least once a decade, whether that means going back to school, trying to start a business, getting more involved with your family, or just escaping a toxic environment.

It's easy to lose sight of the fact that not everyone has those sorts of choices available to them.

Well, as someone who went from bankruptcy and low wage job to low wage job to college to my current tech job, I disagree to some extent. It may not be easy to get out of a low pay career trajectory but it's doable. It takes hard work and effort and a certain amount of social and mental intelligence.

Ah, so if you don't have a certain amount of social and mental intelligence, then fuck you, right?

You're reply is basically an example of survivorship bias.

I mean, vast majority of people have an adequate level of intelligence to improve their lot in life and most do over the course of their life. My reply is an anecdote, not survivor bias. It's also peppered with observations of people in my own family and friend group. My dad started out as a mobile home factory worker, shifted to firefighting in his 30s then after 15 years of service became a chief and earned a lot more as a result and he's set to retire at 60. That's not bad, my dad doesn't have a college degree or anything like that. He just worked hard and was consistent.

You can take a similar path in retail, manufacturing, construction, or any other number of industries that don't even require degrees.

But you can't just do the minimum and do it poorly and expect to advance. It's not a bad thing that the system works that way. Rewarding hard work, and smart work, is what we want in an economic system.

What if I told you there are people who are smarter than you and who have worked harder than you and will continue doing so, but for all their hard work and social and mental intelligence, these things are not sufficient on their own?

There's such a thing as affordance[1].

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affordance

You're a qsort implementation who wasn't so unlucky as to be spammed with only pathological inputs. There are heapsorts who will fare worse for no other reason than being matched up with workloads that would've choked you, too.

I usually takes luck too. Sometimes the good kind. But more often, not the bad kind.

Wow, what was the trigger for that, if you don't mind me asking?

Because this is meloncholic. Both the article and the comment are fatalistic. First of all, it frames a 9-5 job as something to hate, which is a loaded opinion in and of itself. Rather than being grateful for having a job in a first world country, author and commenter choose to disdain it. Or frame it as slavery. It's privileged nonsense.

If you have a job, you have something to be grateful for, first if all. Secondly, you always have free agency in a free country. If you don't like it, move on, but don't project your own self loathing or dissatisfaction onto other people. Plenty of people get a lot of satisfaction out of their jobs and provide for their families from 9-5s and don't look at it from this pessimistic angle.

Those patterns of thought are either great if they inspire you to move onto other industries or toxic and bad for you if they cause you to become cynical.

Y'know, we're supposed to try to look at comments on this site in a charitable way since it's hard to convey tone with text.

I was actually disagreeing with the idea that 9-5 jobs need to be soul-sucking, and speaking from the perspective of someone who is able to decide what I work on.

But it's important to understand why some people hate their situations and feel unable to escape them. Poverty traps are real, especially in the United States, and we should be doing more as a society to help people escape them.

Also, I disagree that having a job is inherently something to be grateful for. Having a job is something to be paid for.


9-5 three days a week.


40 hours labour just isn't necessary for all of us.

We need to work to actually produce things like food and transport and so on. Services.

The vast majority of people I know are not working for that. It's a side effect. We're in this absurd zero sum race to outbid each other for housing (and not just in SF/London, it's all over nowadays).

Like, come on. Once you have an income at a level sufficient to spend, say, 50% on a house, get a mortgage etc, you have truly terrifying amounts of funds left over in terms of normal material goods in the prosperous towns.

I don't know... I like all the 'extra' things I can get with money. Cool electronic toys, nice stuff for my house, a luxurious car with all the cool gadgets, vacations, etc.

I like stuff. It is fun to play with.

Stuff can be good for distracting from your problems, but they're a terrible end for life. I really don't need most of the things that differentiate between being financially successful and not—really it's mostly healthcare and access to higher quality food.

Several grand in debt now and I think I'm starting to realize this. Half the shit I buy I never touch a month after I buy it,and then it's on to the next thing

What do you mean "terrible end for life"?

Of course you don't need the things, but they are enjoyable. I like to live a life beyond bare necessities.

Meaning, they are not a good life goal and a poor substitute for very basic things like socialization, enjoying nature, enjoying time with yourself, accomplishing goals, and exercising. Money and what it can buy are a means to pass time between the parts of life that are “really” worth it.

Of course I may be wrong here but it sure doesn’t feel like that; I’ve had the blessing to be able to compare my life with a lot of money closely with my life with very little money.

Well, I certainly agree with that... money is not a good life goal. Money is an enabler, not an end in itself.

I have also lived having money and not having money. It is way better to have money. Not having to stress about bills, not having to stress about things breaking or needing repair, being able to eat good food when you want... it makes life better. The stresses of figuring out how to get by when you are poor really hamper your ability to enjoy life.

I'm not sure who you're trying to convince but it sounds like you should think about why you're so eager to defend that as it's not a very controversial statement.


I tend to bounce around from low to high cost of living locations. My mindset changes a lot without it really being under my control.

In a high CoL area the limits to what you want can be truly absurd because there's so much wealth swimming about. It's normal.

It takes some grounding, but also interaction with a community that accepts you for who you are, to temper that.

If you found out you had a week to live, what stuff would you play with the most?

I would spend the week with my wife and kids, talking and helping them prepare for my absence.

I am not sure how that changes me liking to play with gadgets.

In my 20s I would have completely agreed with you. Now in my 50s, these toys don't seem quite as attractive. What I crave now is understanding. Being able to get a whole day without distraction to understand an algorithm or a theorem is vastly more valuable to me.

Electronic toys don't cost much. Luxurious cars, a lot more. If you pick and choose instead of just buying everything, you probably could still buy a lot of little toys while earning less (working less).

But it's no problem of course if you're happy as you are. Good for you. The problem is society expects everyone to work 9-5, 5 days a week, 45 to 50 weeks a year. That's a little insane, and for many people, intolerable.

Working for yourself. Creating your own business, not being a slave to the system and being manipulated by media and the collective unconscious into thinking it's normal to work for someone, to sell your SELF, not your products (as it should be, in a rational society). Sadly, nothing about todays society is rational. But hey, if you wanna spend 1/3 of your life working a job you think is "OK", fucking have at it.

I would be ashamed to have written on my tombstone "worked 1/3 of his life as a sys admin".

There is no meaning in that. Just an empty job to have money, for what? For more stuff? To teach your children to do the same? Keeping materialistic corporations afloat with me taking care of the servers and stuff.

If you create your own business are you going to hire people to work for you 9-5?

I would never do that. I am a jack of all trades and I intend to keep it that way. One man business.

If you are making it work for yourself then congratulations, but this is pretty unrealistic advice for almost everyone else.

You’re still beholden to the people who pay for your products/services.

You will notice the different though. Those people only care about the end product, you can work however you like to get there. There's freedom in there.

If you have your own business you'll definitely work 9-5 but you'll also probably work 5-9 ;)

The alternative is working for results, not methods or statistics like time-at-desk. That means working from home if it's best for you, or coming in 3 days per week, or working 10-4, or 8-12 and 2-6, or 9-5 if that happens to fit you best. No one's going to take away your 9-5.

Exactly. Even in a factory you could tell employees that this is what they need to produce for the week. If they can get it done in 2 days, then so be it. If they cannot meet standards, you can just reassign them to a different task or let them go. You could also pay more/less for those who produce more/less. Work just needs to not be tied to time.

That works great until there is some sort of supply chain - either you rely on someone else, or they rely on you. In that case having everyone working at the same time is probably more efficient.

Ask again when you have kids and discovered that there is soooo much more to life than being a cog 99% of your life.

how little imagination you have

You might share some of yours, instead of just making dismissive comments...

Here are a few off the top of my head.
























Or if you insist on keeping 9-5, then why not do it 4 days per week? After all, why do we only work 5 days/week? Could it be that maximizing the output of corporations is not the sole priority of a country?

After all, why do we only work 5 days/week?

"In 1908, a New England mill became the first American factory to institute the five-day week. It did so to accommodate Jewish workers, whose observance of a Saturday sabbath forced them to make up their work on Sundays, offending some in the Christian majority. The mill granted these Jewish workers a two-day weekend, and other factories followed this example. The Great Depression cemented the two-day weekend into the economy, as shorter hours were considered a remedy to underemployment." - https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/08/where-t...

Then, influentially, Henry Ford dropped it down from six days of 14-16 hours, in 1926. http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2016/09/five-day-wor...

So you wasted all our time with this, and your answer is just "fewer hours"? That's your imagination? I'm unimpressed.

And, for most of us, "less hours" is going to equal "less pay". How do you imagine that we should deal with that? Or do you imagine that the corporations (or the country) are just going to pay us anyway?

I addressed this in my comment.

Most people earn enough to live, and would do if they worked 20 hours less, it's just sucked away with various zero sum games like rent.

Imported goods make up a fairly small fraction of the average person's budget with the exception of stuff like, a German car say.

This is precisely what "cost of living" is; in higher competition areas, everything is more expensive.

Considering that the original question was "gosh, what could we possibly do besides 9-5?", not much imagination is required.

Perhaps not. But saying, essentially, "you go figure it out" is a really lazy response. "You're stupid for not figuring it out" is even worse.


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