I had a conversation with a younger person the other day, we were talking about the concept of Wage Slavery, and how most people don’t really conceptualize their lives in that context, but that it does apply to many, (and in recent years more and more) of us.
He had an interesting take on it, a difference in how he saw it that I hadn’t ever really seen, and that was that we are SELLING our lives to someone when we go to work for them. He saw that more in the case where someone joins a long term type of job, like a corporation or a law firm, any kind of job that is a long term, possibly even life long commitment.
The point for him was that if most people saw the work that they do to earn money in this light, they would immediately begin to question whether or not they were getting fair value for essentially selling your life to someone else, and whether that is a good use of your life.
Now obviously most people aren’t thinking of it in those terms, and as obviously there’s a clear need to have money in our society in order to function within it, as without money you’re going to have a pretty rough time eating and keeping a roof over your head, tho alternatively you could go live in the woods somewhere scrounging for food like Davy Crockett and wrestling bears if you’d rather.
So thinking about your career in THOSE terms, that you’re selling your life, essentially so that someone else can become even richer, that’s a really clear way to look at the value you derive from working in that way, and I think it’s pretty good discussion to have with yourself.
Money, being the man-made fiction that it is, has no ACTUAL value, only the percieved value society has assigned to it, and we all sort of “agree” to assign it that value and operate under that agreement.
But what happens to the other values that make up the experience of being human? Like, what’s the money value of watching your child being born, or the “value” in dollars of a sunset, or hearing your child’s honest clear laughter, or any number of feelings and experiences that are the essence of being a human? While society has a tendency to rate ALL of our lives in terms of dollars, I don’t think any of us would say that there’s a money number that makes sense in those contexts.
So why are we only valuing what we do as work in that way? Are we only experiencing our lives in one way by using that metric as the main way to measure our lives? What about all the things that we can’t attach a dollar figure to?
I think it’s a good point to consider when we go to work for someone else and sell them our lives…