"No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
Illness will come, hardship will come, childbirth will come. Anything you won't be able to handle by yourself, by cause of weakness, incompetence or lack of resources, you will need the support of others to get through it. That support will be available if you're a well-integrated part of society.
I was lucky enough to know illness early in my career. I've been thought by this that I can't cut myself off from society, I can't go very far from hospitals without risking my life.
You are not a servant. You are part of a society, of which you need the services to get anywhere past your 40's. Serving others makes you worth being served.
So you are sitting in your economical abode eating your economical food with a pleased non-servant grin. And there you sit. And sit.
The urge to build or do will come. Building is better with others. And soon you are back to having to make trade offs to build something you want or people want.
To me, I'm always going to build. So yeah, all I can do is either pick the best masters available to me, figure out how to spread out the masters (client vs customer) or decide that in the name of freedom, I'm not doing anything and try to declare stagnation a virtue.
There are also the "I just don't use money, man" people who are actually just living off the charity of friends.
I understand how the author here feels. The whole market economy/consumption cycle is dehumanizing and serves those already in possession of excess riches at the expense of the common folk.
It sounds as if he just wants to try living for himself a bit more by being mindful of his purchases. He's more awake than most of the people I know so good on him, regardless of his sentiments towards society.
Maybe you are saying that homeless people are more likely to be criminals, which may or may not be true. But I can't imagine a place in the US where just the act of being homeless is a crime. Do you have a source or a reference to backup that claim?
> The National Coalition for the Homeless reports that there is a growing trend in the United States towards criminalizing the state of being homeless. Proponents of this approach believe that punitive measures will deter people from choosing to be homeless. To this end, cities across the country increasingly outlaw activities such as sleeping, eating, sitting, and begging in public spaces, and selectively enforce more neutral laws—such as those prohibiting open containers or loitering—against homeless populations. Violators of such laws typically incur criminal penalties, which result in fines and/or incarceration.
> In April, 2006 the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that "making it a crime to be homeless by charging them with a crime is in violation of the 8th and 14th Amendments."
But, while criminalizing homelessness may be unconstitutional, criminalizing all side effects of being homeless is not.
Even if I had more time during the day to to whatever I pleased, I doubt I'd have the money to do anything interesting. I'd probably end up programming or working on something, which I might as well get paid to do.
I'd certainly rather program than maintain a garden. But I can understand why that's not true for everyone.
For that we would probably need the biggest revolution we've ever known (thats not happening)
I also couldn't afford to do anything, probably couldn't afford internet at home either so I would be stuck.
Best of luck not working and instead doing whatever you like.
Not everyone wants to run their own business.
Secondly, he presents this notion of a foundationally-flawed and perverse system, and asserts that he is going to leave it, without presenting an alternative. Suppose that one does reject society and become entirely self-sufficient. Then what? He appears to have no ultimate objective nor any motive other than disillusionment with the system. What occurs after he quits his job and builds a cabin in the woods? I'd rather be a servant to society where I know that I at least have nominal objectives and a context in which to live my life, than abandon everything and hope that a life of solitude (or whatever he intends to pursue, he was pretty ambiguous) is preferable to society.
His plan doesn't seem well-devised, and his explanation offers essentially nothing. Just because social arrangements in society are sub-optimal does not mean that abandoning everything is preferable, or even tenable.
A year and a half ago I gave up, quit, sold my car, got rid of my apartment, and lowered my living expenses. I'm quite free of overlords at the moment, but stressfully unsuccessful and technically homeless (without being entirely poor).
Tomorrow I turn 30. This was not in my life plan. Need to daft punk it up very soon.
But thinking you can ever avoid being someone's servant... that's nonsense. The President is servile to the whims of Congress. Congress is servile both to each other and their constituents. CEOs are servile to their shareholders, and the shareholders are likely servile to someone else in their lives.
Often, they don't enjoy what they do either. But it's better than the alternative. Crushing poverty is something you're either extremely afraid of, or you've never lived it. Spending some hours on your weekdays doing something so you don't have to suffer that isn't a big deal.
The old equation for a long, happy life doesn't work anymore. With the rate of technological advancement, it probably won't ever work again. Why? Because 4 years ago, the iPhone had come out two years before and smartphone penetration was stupid low. The idea of an electric car getting car of the year was an absolute joke. Things that seem rote today literally didn't exist.
Working at a single company for the majority of your life also doesn't work. For one, people are wise enough now to know it's hard to be happy in an atmosphere that never changes. For two, many jobs barely exist for 3-5 years before becoming obsolete in one way or another, if you don't evolve with it.
But that's okay! We'll get the hang of this, as a society, pretty soon. But that focus you mention, on making your own shiny thing? Finding your own personal passion? Isn't that what our best and brightest have been telling us for at least the past 20 years, if not longer?
Sure, don't be a servant. But don't be stupid and avoid working for "the man" simply because it isn't what you want right this second. Sometimes putting up with a few years of grief can give you just enough leeway to do some really incredible shit with your life.
If you hate humanity then fine, go live in a shack, be your own Universe, knock yourself out.
For myself I actually like humans, on the whole. I enjoy interacting with others, I enjoy helping other people, I enjoy building things, I enjoy working, and I think a lot of other folks do too. Work is not implicitly servile. It can be, of course, but it doesn't have to be.
Not even subsistence farmers these days are entirely self-sufficient. They still have to purchase some of the necessities of life from others.
Maybe in this modern world we are all servants, but at least we get to choose our masters.
I have lived, or at least intensely studied, all aspects of that premise. While a laudable goal I casually aspire to, it is very hard work with low tangible payoff. I instead write software for others because being a servant - a good valuable one - pays off pretty darned well on average.
Is everyone going to have their own little farm and make their own clothes from the hides of the animals they raise?
I'm just getting to the point that I can probably work just half or so and sustain myself just fine. This is awesome, but I realize I'm overflowing with privilege. For most, this isn't an option.
You are not a servant when there is a fair exchange of money for services.
You become a "servant", or rather a modern "serf", when you lose control over such matters. It may seem subtle but it is an important distinction. If you are so indebted financially, living paycheque to paycheque, you are a servant to that debt and the interest it accumulates, you are a serf.
Without such bonds you can view your employer as a peer, a colleague, a contemporary, and not as your master.
I recently cut out a lot of unnecessary spending: Coffee drinks, restaurants, nearly all alcohol. My furniture is patio furniture from someone's curb. I stopped paying people to fix my appliances, preferring to order parts online and spend the hard time tearing them down (and yes, making mistakes). My main remaining expenses are housing and groceries (and since we've learned to fish, we don't buy so much protein). None of this is strictly necessary, I'm very gainfully employed, but it sure makes me feel a lot better about the value of my own work.
And now, the point of all this: I have a 6-month glide path in the bank, to protect against a job loss or other catastrophe. I also have a small sailboat and a small powerboat, which would be even more unnecessary objects, except that this is the one thing that that my wife and I do: We explore the sea as often as possible. In my honest opinion, this is one of the nicer definitions of having the world by the balls, and it doesn't involve being rich.
Sure, you have to serve others, and whether you choose (it really is a choice, and I fail as often as the next guy) to enjoy it is up to you. But you can still win, as long as you're damn certain of why you're doing it, and you do not waver.
I am good at making software products, but not so much at repairing my car, so I'd rather spend some extra time making software products for others so I can get someone to fix my car for me.
So much for the pseudo-philosophical rhetoric about the 'deadness we feel inside'. I'd feel dead inside if I had to spend hours on the bottom of my car or out in the fields, instead of doing what I enjoy and am at good at.
I avoid that situation at all costs. My advice to anyone asking themselves this question is to simply stop working for, or around, people you don't care about. Solving that doesn't require a change in your economics, either.
No, we want to be servants for a large portion of our lives, apparently. We grovel at the foot of a master so that we can try to paint over the deadness we feel inside with bullshit...
There's a difference between being a miserable servant, and feeling enriched when put in a position of service. It really does have to do w/the type of person you are, and the type of people you surround yourself with. There are some people I truly enjoy working for, whether that be due to friendship or respect, or both, and I'll gladly devote hours of my life to their cause if they ask it.
At no time, however, have I drawn the conclusion that OP did. In cases when I've worked around people I'd rather not be around, I simply looked for better people or teams to work with. I didn't change my purchasing or other economic habits.
If someone happens to find their job challenging, meaningful, and enjoyable, learns a lot, enjoys the company of their coworkers, and achieves their personal goals while working for a company or starting a business, why would the fact that other people are benefitting from their work put a damper on their enjoyment?
Or, like other commenters have mentioned, a job or self-employment might provide the income and opportunities to enrich one's life by living in an interesting place, getting to meet interesting people, supporting a certain lifestyle, enabling new experiences, and increasing someone's standard of living overall.
Don't get me wrong - I don't think that it's a bad thing, either, for someone to derive enjoyment from the mere fact that they aren't making someone else richer. And if that's what the author values, more power to him or her. But I really think it's sort of silly that the author is so puzzled that not everyone else thinks the same way.
Everyone is a servant to the government, too which you pay taxes.
Even those that don't pay taxes are a servant to their friends, family, it takes work to maintain those relationships.
Even those that don't care about friends or family, or a servant to god(or "the universe" if you prefer).
At the end of the day there is always something that tells us or guides us in what to do or how to act, wether it be nature, a boss, friends, or often times just our own conscience. It's the nature of life... which isn't to say that seeking freedom and greater power, control and independence over our own lives isn't a laudable goal, but it's a balance, and everyone has different priorities that make them decide where to strike that balance.
If you're older or wiser, you might want to consider a more positive-oriented way to address a midlife crisis - focusing more on what you want instead of what you don't want, and considering how to get the most value out of your time instead of how to get more time that's not as valuable as you'd like for it to be.
But self sustainability (unreliance on other people) could only be archieved with a great population reduction. Yes, ecolodoomsters are right: the planet cannot sustain 9e9 individuals. But it can sustain them, and more, with industrial and efficient systems, like modern agriculture, where only 1% of the population works on food production.
If only 1% need to work to provide food for every body, then the rest of us has only to work 1% of the time to compensate the agricultors.
All the rest is taxes and banksters.
The simple fact is that in order to get the things we need and want, we have to trade something for it. If your skills lie in something like tech (like most of us on HN) it makes sense to apply those skills to earn more money than you would driving a tractor.
And categorising anything non-necessary as a "shiny thing" is a great way of devaluing a lot of stuff. I took a three month road trip around the US. Loved it. I was a "servant" for a long time in order to be able to afford it. It was totally worth it. Was that a "shiny thing"?
Most people here are taking the writing too literally. Not everybody is a Wodehouse when it comes to writing. If you want to critic, shoot the writing and not the message. Don't take 'master' and 'slave' literally. Give the author some poetic freedom.
(I'm not disagreeing with the sentiment of the post, but it seems to set up a false dichotomy)
It also gives you a sense of purpose. i.e. the power grid guys keep peace as much as soldiers as one example.
Pick a topic, servant to your employer or servant to pretty things?
Studies show people who are employed are happier than ones who are not. I'm sure the grass is greener on the other side right now, but there's a lot of evidence employment gives people more meaning than not having it, it's why lotto winners don't do as awesome as one would think.
Sure, there are people like this. But a great number of people do this as a sacrifice to make their family's lives better.
I find this post boring, arrogant, and narrow-minded. These aren't new problems, and you haven't arrived at some sort of new solution.
(Go on then, I deserve it.)
$10 Canadian to heat versus the typical $500 using a small "hair dryer" to heat the home in -20C weather.
I like my job; I don't think my work would be possible without cooperation and a shared environment. I don't mind serving others, if they are serving me too.
Unless you become a master you are required to serve. If you don't find a middle-ground that is acceptable to you, the alternative is to live like a hobo.
Some people actually chose that.
I hated my last job, but I didn't feel the need to have a public existential crisis about it.
I have no idea who is behind http://maladroit4u.neocities.org but you aren't the only one who has stopped to ask perhaps one of, if not, the most pertinent questions that I believe touches the lives of many, whether they care to admit it or not today. With certainty I can tell you 1) you won't be the last with these questions and 2) from experience many will look upon your concerns as a waste of thought, don't hold it against them. I on the other hand, will admit for the record, I didn't stop and move on as if I'm contemplating "what's for lunch?" while scanning the pantry. I continue to question this very day and expect it will consume the rest of my conscious life.
Why? It is not only a question for me it is a problem. I simply don't believe there is anyone who is really out to come close to providing/leading viable passage to another way. I have looked and the options available don't add up. This! This is where I have the expectations of a fork forming in the road. After all, how could it be so? It is preposterous to even consider such is the case! However, I'm neither here to tell how you should live or where you should place importance. If indeed you have found your way, I cheer you on while being fully aware I have no immediate value to add to your life on this earth (But that's a lie as I believe it concerns you just the same). If you have not found your way, I have every intension of letting you know at some point how you _can_ live and where you _can_ place importance. I find that to be the noblest thing I can do within my capacity. The most economical is to die, but I've settled on such an arrangement not being very helpful to others in the long run. So I exist, if for nothing else, to see whatever's been within materialize in the hands of those who need it most. Few in life need to create bridges I have no other choice worthy of attention.
I maintain, highlighting the problems are easy, real solutions prove ever elusive. Short term gains, smoke and wind are always in play. Long term views are seen as an expensive liability. It's acceptable institutional policy to induce with wild garauntees that work for a time but fall apart at scale. Innovation is no longer sought and who's meaning holds no further weight. No one stops to question 'til shit hits the fan and life directly impacted. It only takes a crisis to see the climate is every man for him/herself. Last of all, it is so incredibly easy to forget, to be seduced and lulled into the sweet soft comforts of a soothing caress... there are no larger issues ahead my dear, no erosion taking place, let's question no more, be open-minded (hear that?) and live happily ever after.
So I commend someone is stopping to ask the kinds of questions exhibited on http://maladroit4u.neocities.org and agree with the oft saying, "an unexamined life is not worth living". I also felt it important to stress the author expresses a serious issue for some. And high on that list is equity.
I would be interested in knowing what was the author's tipping point.
Except for hermits, all of us want services from others. Serving is, therefore, part of the social contract. We work, we pay taxes, and we do lots of work for others' benefit. Nothing wrong with that. To rip from Game of Thrones, valar dohaeris.
In fact, most people rot in a life where they don't get opportunities to help out (i.e. serve) others and become deeply unhappy. They feel unfulfilled.
It's the alienating and creepy institutional experience, the entrenched ingrate upper class, the perverse social demands, and the dehumanizing, corrupt, and capricious evaluation process-- and, in addition to all this, the fact that it has nothing to do with productivity (people could be just as productive, if not moreso, in better environments)-- that make institutional Work so horrible.
People like to do things for other people. That's not a waste of life. That's a major part of being human. Being forced to do things-- often boring, degrading things-- in some subordinate context is what makes people miserable at work.
If you're smart, you level up to Mastery fairly quickly.
Once you're no longer an absolute novice, it's frustrating to spend your days without meaning or purpose. The novice finds meaning and purpose internally when learning. Once learning has plateaued, meaning and purpose come from integrating with society.
This is where the shackles of jobs start to erode your self: the masters at bad workplaces dole out meaning and purpose based on die rolls. They don't understand the connection between what people are good at, what they want to do, and how they should do it. You get told what to do. You have little leeway. When your choices are removed, the friction eats you alive.
Modern hippy startups try to get around the last part by letting people do whatever they want. Those companies can be pretty much counted on one hand though.
In short: companies exploit the Mastery of smart people while forcing you to look at Purpose through double slits and removing Autonomy resulting in your knobs of happiness being broken without you even realizing it.