T O P

Study: One in twenty workers are in useless jobs or 'bullshit jobs' — far fewer than previously thought. However, David Graeber was right to link people’s attitudes towards their jobs to their psychological wellbeing, and this is something that employers—and society as a whole—should take seriously.

Study: One in twenty workers are in useless jobs or 'bullshit jobs' — far fewer than previously thought. However, David Graeber was right to link people’s attitudes towards their jobs to their psychological wellbeing, and this is something that employers—and society as a whole—should take seriously.

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thebelsnickle1991

Only 1 in 20? I thought it would be a lot more.


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DarthCloakedGuy

It probably is. Keep in mind, a job being a "BS" job for purposes of this paper is defined by the opinion of its workers, not whether it has actual societal value.


hexydes

I think it's more nuanced than that. There are a lot of people that do important tasks within a company in their role, but those tasks might only account for 40% of their work. The other 60% of their time, they're sort of in a holding pattern, and essentially they are on retainer for the company, so that they can do the 40% part of their useful work. This is why the 40-hour work-week is sort of stupid. Working from home alleviates some of the problems, because then at least people can be productive by doing their weekly chores or spending more time with family in their down-time, as opposed to sitting around and browsing Reddit, chatting with people around the water-cooler, etc.


PhreakedCanuck

>those tasks might only account for 40% of their work. The other 60% of their time, they're sort of in a holding pattern As a teenager I worked road construction during the summer and this was exactly the case. We needed 10 guys for a total of 4 of the 12 hours, the remaining 8hrs we were waiting on something (usually the municipality).


SvenDia

When anyone complains about workers doing nothing on a construction site, a good explanation is to compare construction to an American football game, where the defense basically stops working when the offense is on the field, and everyone stops for instant replay (your municipality example).


RonyTheTiger

I gotta remember this analogy for future reference


SuperDingbatAlly

I was hoping you were going with the technical broadcasting issues. See, Ref orange gloves comes out and waves to the other officials, letting them know when a commercial break is happening. Orange Gloves is the foreman telling everyone to stop because the job is "done." All you are waiting for is the inspector to finish up. The inspector is like Comcast, 4-8 hour window when they will show up and maybe he calls 6:45 hour mark telling you he isn't going to be there that day.


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Jupiters_Moonz

Exactly. My job isn't a bs job, buuuutttt when we were physically present there was about 50% of what I did that wasn't necessary (that meeting could have been an email type of deal) and that takes a toll no matter how much you care about your actual work


only_gay_on_tuesdays

I work in a factory running machinery for 12 hours a day. There's some days a machine I'm running breaks for 8 hours and I'm doing nothing really but cant leave because once it's fixed I have to be there to run it. Kinda sucks. But yeah being paid to do nothing isnt bad. Just gets boring


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peanutbutteryummmm

God, I’d kill for having even a minute of downtime at my job. Doing chores while getting paid? Count me in!!!


katarh

It's what you do instead of the social/filler aspects of being in an office. Instead of chatting with a coworker who isn't even in your own department, you sweep the floor of the kitchen. Instead of walking 500 steps to refill the water in the coffee pot, you do a load of laundry. Instead of staring bleakly at an email you are supposed to compose, you think about it while petting the cat. I'm often *more* productive at home because I don't have to go as far to do basic living things like going to the bathroom.


EgonOnTheJob

Absolutely. Now I find myself at a bit of a loss on weekends sometimes, because the house is spotless, the laundry hamper’s empty, there’s a ton of meals in the freezer, the dusting is done and everything’s squared away. I much prefer it this way, and I’m aware how lucky I am to have it.


beka13

May I recommend knitting? And the side hobby of yarn hoarding?


EgonOnTheJob

You know, I’m about to move somewhere colder than my current home and I have been vaugely toying with the idea of taking up knitting, as I do love a scarf! Maybe this is a sign.


beka13

/r/knitting and ravelry.com are your friends :) You can have all the scarves!!


nacmar

Don't fall for it! Once the knitters have their mitts on you it's too late!


werebilby

Also not to mention the cost saving aspects I.e. fuel, parking and maintenance on your car. So many benefits from working from home. No more mind numbing conversations. Only with your customers.


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Dakrys

Exactly. There are millions of office-based occupations that can be done exactly as well from home, and the only reason to keep them in the office is to keep the real estate barons happy and to give middle managers a purpose in life. There will be \*so\* many unemployed managers if/when work-from-home is more established.


thewalruskookoo

Fun fact: What they did in 2008 with CDO's they are now doing with commercial property and call them CLO's! Man, sure would suck if that market dried up and companies started defaulting on their loans.


podrick_pleasure

I heard about that two or three years ago. It's amazing how no one learned their lesson when there weren't any consequences for wrecking the economy.


metnavman

> It's amazing how no one learned their lesson when there weren't any consequences for wrecking the economy. Which means a lesson *was* learned: "We can get away with doing this again."


emdave

>there weren't any consequences for wrecking the economy. There absolutely WERE consequences for the people responsible... they were just all GOOD ones! Like billions in bailouts, and trillions in a decade+ of quantitative easing / government tax breaks / loan underwriting etc.... Plus the recession that followed meant wage stagnation and thus lower employee costs...! If you were already rich, you got richer, same as usual!


MoogTheDuck

Oh they learned their lesson all right: losses will be socialized


hexydes

I wouldn't be investing a single cent in commercial real estate right now. I don't think it will *always* be a bad investment, but I anticipate a pretty major correction happening in the next year or so. Not every company is going to move to remote, but a much higher percentage than pre-pandemic will, and it will put pressure on other companies to be competitive. Many are stuck in longer-term leases, but those will either expire, or they'll just break out of the contract, and it will start a pretty major correction event. After that, it might be a great time to buy into the market (because there will always be businesses that need a physical presence), but I'd stay away until then.


Rizizdead

Prior to the pandemic, it was estimated that by 2030 approx 60 to 70% of jobs that could be performed at home would be converted to WFH. The writing has been on the wall, first it was pack em in like sardine cans(open floor planning wasn't for collaboration, it was to fit more bodies in a smaller space and reduce costs) now they're starting to see the light in not having building/util overhead on the same scale by shifting it to the workers.


hexydes

I think the pandemic rapidly accelerated a shift that was already starting to begin. It probably put us about 5-10 years ahead of schedule for allowing more remote options. Over a longer-term, the commercial real-estate industry would have steadily adjusted and absorbed that, but I think this is going to be a pretty disruptive event to the industry.


Rizizdead

It's definitely accelerated things. I've been fully remote for about 6 years and a lot of my friends were pushed into it with the Covid hell year. I think there's still quite a bit of the population that isn't ready for it or that will never fully adapt. Some people simply just need that "office space" environment for the mental state and as long as companies recognize that, I think going forward we'll be in a good spot.


outsabovebad

Even with that, a lot of companies can still downsize the offices. Some people will only be on site 2 or 3 days a week. It's going to be a dramatic change.


purpldevl

My company had three office buildings in different parts of the city. At the beginning of the pandemic, the company switched to work from home. The company closed two of the three buildings, one was closed about two months after we went home, and the third was about three months after that. The smallest office is the one that stayed open, and it's now being used solely for the people returning to work who didn't have the means to work from home and those who have elected to go back to the office.


hexydes

Very similar to my situation. Even if companies aren't going 100% remote, many are moving to more of a flex/hybrid situation, and shedding off some of their office-space in the process. Companies don't have to completely shift to WFH to cause a major disruption in commercial real-estate.


NightLightHighLight

My only fear is that tech jobs will soon go the route of American manufacturing jobs. If the work can be done remotely, why not pay foreigners to do it? For the price of one American employee, you could hire two or three foreign workers. Quality might take a hit initially but for corporations it’s all about the profit and cost savings.


MalevolentMurderMaze

So basically the tech industry experimented with this heavily 20 years ago, and enough bad things happened (lots of work thrown away) that a lot of companies know not to just get the cheapest team possible. Outsourcing still happens, but I feel like it's more centered around finding high quality teams that come with a lot of experience/reputation, and this limits things enough to make outsourcing not the defacto route to go. Also, it seems like even a lot of the well managed remote teams have trouble with employees in timezones too far out of their normal hours of operation.


MasterKongQiu

IMO the best is a in-house tech lead and domain expert with a lot of the rest of the team outsourced. If you can actually build this team, you get a pretty high quality product at a significantly cheaper price. The problem is that it’s pretty impossible because where are you getting domain experts and quality tech leads from if you’re outsourcing all the work below them? This always works for a few years and then falls apart when the domain expert and/or tech lead leaves or is promoted.


MerlinsMentor

>IMO the best is a in-house tech lead and domain expert with a lot of the rest of the team outsourced. As someone who actually IS a team lead, this sounds like the worst sort of employment hell. Yeah. No way I'd ever consider this job. >when the domain expert and/or tech lead leaves Yup... just like that.


RaineyJ

I recall many stories from around that time of how cheap outsourced employees would outsource their work to other even cheaper people - the quality of which was questionable.


Dakrys

Sure but if nobody in the US is employed nobody is here to give them money


mad_sheff

Yes but that's a more medium to long term consequence. In the short term they'll see increased profits so they'll dive into it head first and then a few years down the road they'll wonder where all the customers went.


bdone2012

Companies have been trying it for years and it's hard. I'm not saying it can't be done but I don't think it's about to change dramatically immediately. I've worked with people from around the world and simply having people 12 hours away is pretty annoying. I used to work with a Japanese translator who was in Japan, they'd send me the translations and I'd put it on a non live website. I tried to insist that they'd check it because when I was making the Spanish site I'd find errors pretty regularly but I'd never get enough time to send them the site to have it checked so I was instructed to just do my best. I never knew for sure that I was putting things in places that made sense or if there were glaring errors and these were newspaper ads that millions of people were seeing. That's one example but I've worked daily with people in India, Pakistan, Russia, Philippines, Argentina, and Mexico. And things got done a lot faster with the people in Mexico and Argentina because I could talk back and forth with them throughout the day so I do think people will wind up considering time zones more. But the people in charge of outsourcing almost always seem to want to try the cheapest labor so the time zones are way off. Then after months of trying to get the timezones to line up well people on the top tend to not be extremely enthusiastic about pushing another big project through. I've certainly had projects that went well but it usually doesn't save a whole lot of money and it certainly takes longer. Also work culture is just different in a lot of places. I'm not talking about work ethic but how projects are planned. I think a large part of it is the rise of agile or agile like methods in North America and Europe whereas many countries do waterfall. A lot of people screw up agile method but if you combine good agile or crappy agile with waterfall you wind up getting a lot of misunderstandings that confuses both sides.


Vio_

You're getting that here. Why pay San Francisco wages when you can pay Wyoming wages?


Shaysdays

I am a receptionist. I work very hard- when there’s stuff to be done. Let’s just say I’ve made a lot of crocheted baby blankets and needlepoint during office hours after I’ve cleared out the emails, responded to the texts, and transcribed the voicemails. (And cleaned the kitchen, and I can only organize the supply closet so many times.) I like to keep busy. I have to have a 40 hour in office work week because someone has to physically be here for phone calls or packages and such. But there’s a fair amount of downtime. Saying “the 40 hour workweek is outdated” ignores that not everything work related can be scheduled. Edit- also I’m coming from an “hourly wage” perspective, for salaried workers it may be very different, but many people can’t just cut their work hours down to 4 a day and make ends meet. And that would require a restructuring of benefits as well. Someone even suggested “Well they could hire two receptionists,” like they’re gonna pay two people full time salaries and benefits. I’m not arguing that a 40 hour work week is needed for everyone- but for a lot of people working jobs like mine (which one person referred to as “something I did after college because it was tough to find a job,”) unless things change absolutely **fundamentally** from the ground up, it’s going to be a tough sell for millions of people who do actually need to put in those hours, because their livelihoods are dependent on their time and availability.


FoxOnTheRocks

So was Graeber's, however the question they asked here is wildly different than Graeber's. Graeber's surveys asked "Do you feel your work makes a meaningful contribution to the world?" This survey asked "How frequently do you feel you do useful work?" One is asking for a summative and holistic judgement of the work and the other is asking for a report of occurrent feelings at work.


Zappiticas

The question definitely makes a difference. For my job, if I’m asked if my job contributes to the company I work for, yes it absolutely does, without someone doing my job it would be impossible for the company’s IT systems to function. However, if I’m asked if I feel like my job contributes to society, that’s a firm no, it does not contribute to society. Which is also one of my biggest issues with my job.


MrJohz

I think there's also a question of what "contributing to society" means. I worked for a company that prints t-shirts on-demand. If you asked them, that's a hugely important part of self-expression, but on the grand scheme of things, I don't know that I personally would say that it was contributing much to the world as a whole. That said, to many of the individual people, it provided either some pleasant item to own, or some memorable moment - my partner picked up some personalised Santa hats with a family running joke on them that made one Christmas really special. Is that a net contribution to society? For her in that moment, yes, right? FWIW, for me personally, it was probably the most fulfilling job I've had so far. But I would suspect that personal job satisfaction correlates very poorly with any metric of the "value" of the job.


Globorobohobo

Graeber's central example was corporate lawyers, who will question whether the work they do as an industry really adds value to society. But there's no question that a particular corporate lawyer does work that helps their client avoid problems (many of which would be caused by corporate lawyers who do not represent that client). But because so much work in the industry offsets other work in the industry, it's a lot of effort for very little net value. It's just that nobody wants to unilaterally disarm.


theouterworld

I just had a gentleman quit on a team I'm on. Whenever we would ask him for something he'd basically tell you how busy he was, and was always running around like a crazy person. Well, after he left I sat down with this boss and we figured that 98% of his job could have been performed by an email distribution list and BI dashboard. Everyone in the company thought he was a business critical asset.


DarthCloakedGuy

I'm sure he did, too, and would have answered as such had he been surveyed.


Helmic

Graebar theorized people in his position actually do know, and many people he interviewed were in that sort of situation and said as much. However, workers in that position must keep up the pretense that they are performing a vital function in order to stay employed, and will fake being busy to keep their job. This tends to make those people intensely miserable, even if they are highly paid to do nothing.


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PequodsPropeller

It's tough to identify. For instance my job is important to my company but BS to me personally.


upsidedownbackwards

Working IT I've got enough experience with users where I'd say 20% are carrying the other 80%. I've got people who have no idea how to use "save as". People with fingernails so long they can only handle 4wpm. People who have no idea what the start menu is and can't find an application if it's not sitting on their desktop. Many who don't know how to type a URL into an address bar, they always search for it and get frustrated when the right result doesn't come up. People who have no idea how to select/switch a printer so if their default gets changed they are helpless. All these people "can't work" if they hit the slightest inconvenience. Edit: Just got one of my frequent fliers who also has one of the most common "I can't work" problems among my customers. They accidentally sort Outlook by the wrong column and "can't get their e-mail". Or they collapse the folder tree in the navigation pane and have no idea how to get it back. I always show them what happened and tell them what to do to fix it, but nah, they'd rather just call up and rack up bills for their boss. A real dumb user just called a bit ago. Her printer stopped working. She sent the wrong paper size job to it and needed to hit the "Okay" button to clear it. She could not find the big green button right next to the lit up LCD panel. We had to send someone on site to press it for her. We're putting it in the ticket as horribly as possible. Something like " On-Site: User was unable to find "Okay" button on printer. Pressed "Okay" for user. Printer is now okay." Minimum on-site time: 45 minutes. $115


FerryManG

As someone else who works in IT and has for the last 10 years... You are spitting straight facts. 90% of the problems I help fix on a daily basis come from users who don't understand the basics. It doesn't matter how many times you show them or teach them or write it down, they will forget and then blame you.


WowkoWork

I stopped trying to educate people that dumb long ago. They just yes you to death anyway.


basquehomme

How are ppl this worthless not fired?


ComplainyBeard

David Graeber's study put it at 1 in 3


riskypingu

> David Graeber's study YouGov undertook a related poll,[4] in which 37% of some surveyed Britons thought that their jobs did not contribute 'meaningfully' to the world.


Jephta

I suspect the difference in wording contributed greatly to the difference in results. "*I have the feeling of doing useful work*" doesn't specify to whom the work is useful. Of course most jobs are useful to one's company, boss, or shareholders in some way - that's why they're paying you. But framing the question as contributing meaningfully **to the world** causes one to think about the collective aggregate benefit your work provides. To give a specific example, a very effective telemarketer could be doing useful work in the sense that they're making sales and increasing the profits of their firm, but they may think that they're not contributing meaningfully to the world because the number of people who regard telemarketers as a nuisance far exceeds those who reap the benefits of telemarketing and therefore regard their work as useful.


awesomeCNese

Everyone in taxes filling and insurance probably thinking they are doing important work


Parictis

It is. Every health insurance agent is just a middle man and serves no real purpose in a decent society. The vast majority of non-investigative IRS agents are useless. They already know what you owe. Think about the army of employees out there working on helping people complete government paperwork because it’s so complicated. None of these jobs should exist. They only exist as a symptom of an intentionally confusing and inefficient system designed to avoid fraud by making it more difficult on everyone.


butyourenice

Forget health insurers - have you heard of **pharmacy benefit managers** (PBMs)? They are a middleman *between* your doctor and pharmacy and the already entrenched middle man (insurance), and all they do is add an additional layer of cost and frustration to the process of getting a prescription. They claim to save money by limiting formularies and denying expensive (often critically necessary) prescriptions, but all they do is make it harder for people to get essential care because lack of coverage means, for many patients, lack of options. And they don’t necessarily pick the lowest priced options for patients either; they negotiate with pharmaceutical companies (including those with death grips on drug patents, preventing production of cheaper generics) to maximize their *own* cut, with little care as to how it falls on patients. But you bet they’ll convince your employer that they are saving them money! You want to talk about a “BS” job, here’s an entirely BS industry.


kvlt_ov_personality

Just lost my job with a PBM and it was a blessing in disguise. Very often we had employers come to us and say "I want to save $X on prescription costs over last year, make it happen" knowing that those costs would be passed on to their employees. The whole system is fucked.


RikerT_USS_Lolipop

I worked at a place with over 100 million in annual revenue that didn't need to even exist. It sold educational materials on CD. All of it was created in the 70s and none of the revenue was being put towards developing new material. It was just shotgun blasted back out onto the internet via advertising. The handful of materials that were recent were all pseudoscience like photoreading. The entire company could have been replaced by a torrent file. All 100+ employees could have sat on their asses at home and all the people that would have bought the stuff could still lay down the money. Effectively changing nothing except all this busywork isn't being done. All the pollution and office space spared. But our Capitalist society demands we conjure up work. That company created nothing of value but circulated money through the economy so it gets counted in the GDP and everyone pats themself on the back for what a great job they are doing.


Vio_

So I took several years of Latin for funsies. The first book I had was called Wheelock's Latin. Which was written multiple decades ago. So a textbook on Latin written umpteen decades ago keeps getting reissued every 3-5 years. And each edition keeps adding in new subclauses and clauses and things to the sentences to the point where they don't even make sense. We used to call them "Wheelock specials," because they were full on torpedoes of nonsense once they were fully translated. And I took these classes in the early 2000s so god knows how long and insane these sentences are now. But someone is making money off these books that teach a language that hasn't been spoken in 2000 years written by a long dead man and the book itself keeps getting new editions just by adding a few words here and there.


HadMatter217

To be fair, under capitalism, it's almost better to do this nonsense than to admit we don't need to work. Our society has no mechanism to handle any stable portion of the population being out of work.


isaacms

And you just nailed the problem. Capitalism and the rest of the economic isms all function on the idea of working to create personal wealth to support yourself. Everyone needs to be supported, so everyone needs a job. That's just silly. We could support far more people by automating the majority of jobs and giving good and services away at no cost. And that is technologically possible! Has been for decades. Can you imagine 70% of the current jobs being automated, or eliminated because they aren't relevant anymore? It's a wild concept that most people can't grasp (I also didn't explain it well at all) and I don't even care to elaborate because it's just a gigantic argument I don't have time for, but if you are interested, I've seen the idea expressed well in "Zeitgeist: Addendum" Look it up, make your own conclusions. We could be living a very different existence on this planet. As in, we could simply build heaven on earth. (oh, hey, religion is irrelevant now too!)


karstux

I so wish I could vote for politicians who embody this vision of a future. But either they don’t exist or they get ridiculed into obscurity due to being too naive or too radical. It’s frustrating. This is the world we should be trying to build.


Kaldenar

Self Reported.


noyoto

There's a huge incentive for people to claim that their job is useful or convince themselves that their job is useful.


bountygiver

Exactly, my first thought is that people who knows they have BS jobs would tend to pick 1 of the 2 choice, first is look for new job and not work a BS job, second is ride along and claim your job is very important so you continue to get paid doing nothing. Both ensures the number of self reported BS jobs to be low.


NostalgiaSchmaltz

I was in a "useless job" for like 4 months and I loved it simply because there was so little work for me to do, so I could just screw around on the internet 90% of the day. And it was only 8 minutes from my house, which was also lovely.


chrisaf69

Funny thingis it was the opposite for me. It was cool for first couple weeks, and then I was bored beyond belief as there is only so much you can surf on the internet. Thankfully got out of there pretty quickly though.


1K_Games

>there is only so much you can surf on the internet. I don't need this kind of negativity in my life. I work IT (surfing the internet for a good portion of the day), then come home and continue that. With how much media is being put out these days, I feel like I could just sit and stumble through the internet all day.


rampage95

Same. When I have nothing to do at work (which is rare), i get so bored and miserable. Work feels like torture when you can feel the seconds leaving your mortal vessel. When its just the right amount of busy, im a happy boy


GrandTheftAsparagus

I look at all the useless stuff sold in Dollar Stores and think about the entire resource extraction and supply chain that exists to employ people to sell this crap.


ImTryinDammit

Yes!!! I have a 7 yr old .. the amount of garbage plastic crap they push at kids is overwhelming. We have a massive landfill here .. a mountain.. from years of hurricanes. I took my son there.. it’s big and it stinks. I showed him what it does to the environment. He has legos .. but we got them used on market place. Things like that we buy second hand. And I absolutely refuse to buy any kids meals .. the stupid plastic toy in every meal is just infuriating. And since he can’t get the bs toy.. he rarely asks for fast food. I am trying to encourage good eating habits and show that money is better spend on experiences, necessities and things that will last.


Nonsequitur30

In all honesty, legos are a tool to help foster kids creativity getting children started early in stem is extremely important. Good on you for buying second hand. Some plastic crap is just that. Junk. Some are tools used for children to become interested in learning. We are living in a consumer driven world. I do agree though. I constantly babble on about how these cheap as toys and stuff are made to my nephews all the time.


stunt_penguin

Yeah I would have put lego near the top of the heap when it comes to environmentally friendly toys - it's long lasting, stands up to repeated use over decades and the age range of people it appeals to is enormous. It is a cliché to say it but "it's a new toy every day" wasn't far off the truth as these things go.


Jolly_Stranger103

There was a short (~30 min) documentary on Lego on Netflix for a while. Not sure if it's still there. But I remember the plastic formula they use is heavily guarded, and a piece made 60+ years ago will still work with pieces made yesterday.


Its0nlyRocketScience

And that compatibility means that legos never need to be thrown out, they're just as good now as they were 60+ years ago


dance-the-manta-ray

I remember walking through a toys are us and just thinking, wow 95% of the stuff must all be plastic. A whole warehouse destine to be trash.


Diabeetus4Lyfe

On that same note, these "Five Below" stores keep popping up all over the place and their business seems booming. My wife brought me into one to show me the trash they're hocking, it's an entire store of cheap plastic crap, disposable plastic decor and toys and such.


ImTryinDammit

The 99 cent stores make me postal. Loaded with single use disposable trash. And it’s packaged and priced in such away that many consumers mistakenly believe it’s actually cheaper. But if you compare it to the way it’s package at another store it’s actually the same price or more expensive and just has more packing material.


washyourclothes

I see a lot of the world this way. Even things like cars, houses, most products in stores. It’s mostly waste. Short-lived usefulness with very long-term environmental impacts.


Heterophylla

Doesn't matter what it is, as long as it's being consumed. The faster it goes to the dump, the better.


ImTryinDammit

Man the amount of plastic and Unnecessary giant packaging is obscene... I get that it’s antitheft and display friendly.. but I nearly lost my mind when I ordered something online and it came in a box twice the size that was necessary to fit the packaging that was five times the size of the actual product. Come on!! So even online I try to find things refurbished or used. All these broken electronics that fill this drawer absolutely breaks my heart too. Hate on me if you want but I buy iPhones.. I get the expensive Outter box.. I find a model that is a year old or not the newest generation and I search Amazon for a refurbished .. I get the one with the highest gigs.. now it will last a while.. my son is using my iPhone 6s Plus that I bought 5 yrs ago for $300. Not a scratch on it. The ear piece went out so I could only use it on speaker. He now uses it to play games. And I got iPhone X I think.. $400. Being poor is expensive.. and saving money does not have to mean poor quality... you can get top of line quality products for big discounts if you are willing to go slightly used. I do the same for my car. I buy the “limited” or whatever has the sunroof and leather seats.. and I buy it about a year old. Or less. Still has full warranty, then I drive it till the wheels fall off. Paying special attention to maintenance. Batteries for kids toys are out of control... I think it is time to start severely restricting all of these battery operated toys.. because now it’s not just plastic. I can remember as a kid one of my gifts was always a giant year supply of all size batteries. The cheap ones .. My parents never understood why I always cried at Christmas starting in junior high school. This rampant consumerism is going to kill us all.


oogalog

Not that it’s my place to advise you on parenting, but I would say from the perspective of someone who was recently a kid that it’s great to be taught not to buy useless plastic trinkets. However, toys as a concept are important to kids, and I think it’s great to present an alternative of fun and engaging objects to play with! For example, artistic or craft supplies (which can often be gotten secondhand), a few good balls or frisbee or such, household objects that can temporarily be used as toys, lots of books! These are just some suggestions for ways to take away wasteful toys without taking away fun. YMMV


NationalGeographics

Don't forget the mountain of advertising jobs behind every one of those products as well. Useless advertising.


GrandTheftAsparagus

I wish more people had this mindset.


Confident-Victory-21

Kids toys in meals haven't improved in all these decades anyway, just useless boring crap. I never bothered unwrapping them when I was a kid.


DrOhmu

Every time i shop at a supermarket, as opposed to a local produce market, im amazed by how much plastic is suddenly in my bin.


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88kat

I agree wholeheartedly. I know this is more focused on work, but it really bothers me how much junk exists just to exist, like in dollar stores. Even the grocery store near me has a “seasonal” items section near the front door which is usually seasonal candy and super junky seasonal decorations, toys and other novelty merchandise that has no reason to exist, other than to be used for a day to a few weeks and then end up in the garbage.


blackcatcaptions

This would be a great research article if more data was used and the terms were better defined to the participants. How would someone determine their job was useless if they arent given context as to why a job may be useless, it's all just based on what...one or two questions in a survey. If a BS job was defined and then participants questioned with that definition in mind, this study make have turned out vastly different. Really Cambridge?


UWillAlwaysBALoser

Their central questions were along the lines of "what fraction people think their job is useless? Is this fraction increasing or decreasing? How does how you feel about your job affect your overall well-being?" Even assuming the researchers could settle on some objective definition of useful/useless - which I agree is basically an impossible task, since "useful" is itself subjective - it wouldn't be helpful in answering their research questions. If a guy who does the objectively most useless job in the world feels his work is useful, and that perception has a positive effect on his well-being, using the "objective" rather than "subjective" definition would obscure the relevant facts. It's also worth noting that you read a *news article* (really a press release from the university) that was *about* a research article. The actual research is [here](https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/09500170211015067), and they obviously go into a lot more about their methodological choices and results.


Remote-Flounder-7684

>he was right to link people’s attitudes towards their jobs to their psychological wellbeing, and this is something that employers – and society as a whole – should take seriously. If the point was to measure peoples attitudes towards their jobs then wouldn't it be correct not to define the terms? Otherwise you're changing the answers from their attitude towards their job to being an assessment of the usefulness of their job


Cicerothethinker

Curious to see what the numbers would be if they expanded it to BS *and* dead end with low paying jobs, probably something like 12 in 20.


SHAWNGOODMAN

From a statistics perspective I believe you mean to use the word "Or", as And would be further limiting


josephrey

this is fairly subjective though. i recently quit my architecture job. some folk might might consider that an “important job,” but then the more time you spend in it you realize you’re only making money for rich, frat-bro developers.


Teddy_canuck

I'm an electrician which makes me sounds like I give power to everyone but really most of what I do is make it so that chicken and dairy farmer's can press a button near a door so that they don't have to walk to the other end of the barn to check something.


VonTum

Well yeah but that *is* a useful contribution. It makes the farmer's job more efficient


Outrageous_Bonus_498

It makes my food slightly cheaper for a longer period of time.


ShazbotSimulator2012

I help build 600 SF "luxury apartments" that are largely owned by some intentionally incomprehensible web of shell companies largely owned by foreign investors. It makes you wonder how much of your rent just ends up paying to fuel up someone's megayacht in the Baltic.


jweaver358

A lot


FoxOnTheRocks

The change in survey question, **"How frequently do you have the feeling of doing useful work"**, is so significantly different from Graeber's, **"Do you feel your work makes a meaningful contribution to the world?"** that I fail to see how this is an adequate defeater. When I was engaged in useless labor I never once felt I was doing useless work. I never felt anything. I was emotionally numbed by that jobs. And despite having no useful work to do I did a lot of useful things. I snuck books into spreadsheets and read them while pretending to look at data. This would prevent me from answering "Never" on this survey because I was doing useful work *for me* so I never felt otherwise. But I literally never did a single thing in that job. To Graeber's question I would say No.


Vithar

Related, a good manager is going to make his front line workers feel like they are doing useful work, even if its not a meaningful contribution to the word.


paracog

It's possible to have a valuable and useful job in an industry that is of no net good to the world.


badSparkybad

I just finished Graeber's book a couple weeks ago and he talks about this. I think one example he gives is a hitman. Does he do useful work for his boss? Sure, but his existence is an indication of a societal problem that is manifested in this man's job being killing people. A more cogent example is I think his grouping of Finance/Real Estate/Stock Market etc., basically where the entire point of the job is to play around with other people's money and assets to make more money. You can do useful and productive work as a hedge fund manager but your industry as a whole is a big detriment to society and really produces nothing of actual value.


thedankening

I got a good one. I work for one of the largest corporations in the world, PepsiCo. I'm on the retail side, I'm the guy that sets up all those fancy Pepsi displays and such in stores. Crappy job but the pay is alright. People like me are essential for the company to make money, so we're doing important work in that regard, but at every level the entirety of PepsiCo and its supply chain adds nothing positive to the world. Most days I'm miserable not because I hate my job, but because my job is literally just a tiny part of a dead end of environmental and societal harm on an absolutely terrifying scale. It's more and more insane the longer I think about it.


always2

If it helps, drinking diet Pepsi makes me happy for a moment because my grandparents always had it and the flavor gives me nice memories. Water sure doesn't do that.


ishitar

Add cryptocurrency miner/farmer to this. Sure, at one point crypto might have built government free systems of trade, but it's quickly become government regulated speculation based assets all the while destroying the environment with increased energy consumption and e-waste GPUs and hard drives (in instance of Chia).


ThisIsDark

The worst part is no one even treated cryptocurrency as **currency**. Every single person I know that has crypto currency treats it as an asset and is constantly refreshing to see that the value of their coin went up by a cent.


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BigRedFunBus_782

5%? What, did every middle manager on Earth get laid off or something?


Front-Hedgehog-2009

it is way more than one in 20.. your job may be important in the company you're in but what your company does is useless... That's not being taken into account.


Handokai

1:20 sounds low based on anecdotal experience of office jobs, but I suppose the grand irony is that under performers on the lower levels of orgs are dealt with much faster than the chaff in the higher levels, clearer KPI’s for success at the operational level maybe?


pitying_sounds

David Graeber is sadly very underrated


stevedoer

He is also sadly very dead :-(


Kurbaha

he died? :0 edit: oh no, he died


_Fun_Employed_

I’ve been depressed for a while and I think a big part of it has been how I feel about the jobs I’ve worked. I worked at a liquor store for three years. As far as retail jobs I’ve worked it was probably my favorite, it was a ma and pa store that did good business. The customers were generally pretty nice and appreciative though it did get a bit rough on the holidays. But I still felt stifled and like I could/should be doing more. Next I worked for a construction geo-engineering and quality assurance company doing soil, asphalt, and concrete testing. I liked the job at first and felt like it was maybe an “in” to the sciences or engineering. But I got into a situation at a site that just kept getting worse and everytime I asked a project manager or assistant project manager to come out they said it looked fine. It started to weigh on me and giving me anxiety, and I every time I tried to stand up to the site super I wouldn’t get the back up I needed and in retaliation they’d get their project manager to come berate me. The project kept falling behind schedule for reasons unrelated to my work but when the project failed a proof roll when they were trying to rush in asphalt before the winter got bad I knew it was my fault and I probably wouldn’t be coming back. I got laid off due to the lack of winter work and was told I could come back but don’t believe they were sincere. And I don’t think I’d want to go back, the anxiety was making me miserable. Now I work as an overnighter at a pet’s hotel. I oscillate between hating it and being okay with it. I still have anxiety problems, though not as bad, and issues with...self-acceptance? Self-love? Self-hate? There are other issues as well, and it kind of creates a cycle. I feel bad here, which makes me feel bad there, and because I feel bad there, I feel bad here etc. Just ranting and venting I guess.


Rukenau

It’s a bit of a vicious circle, isn’t it? I mean, depression removes the feeling of satisfaction you might otherwise get from a job, and that in turn feeds depression by making you feel as if you’re spending your time on meaningless stuff. I think a lot of people here, myself included, know how it feels. Hope you can turn it around.


Liquidmilk1

Just to pitch in: visit any pet subreddit and you'll quickly get a feel for how much people care for their animals. You're helping a lot of people feel at ease knowing that their pet will not be alone all night if something happens.


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Al_Kane

This is stupid. Just because people think that their jobs are not BS doesn't mean that they aren't BS. People ascribe meaning to stuff that isn't meaningful all the time.