China

The worthiness of work

Sometimes it’s easy to forget or ignore that work is important and essential. Work isn’t always meant to be fun or easy, which this Aeon article makes a good case for. When it comes to milennials, it’s not that most of them don’t work, but that they’re stuck in . It gets kind of fuzzy such as when the writer talks about people coping with meaningless work and then moves on to his friend describing a rigorous engineering review process at his job. The writer never exactly ties up the point that many people, including those very ones he mentions, are in jobs where they can fully utilize their time or don’t do the best they can at work, something the author admits to as well. Still it is interesting reading all the way. His main point- that work is something to value- is extremely valid and something all of us in the working world can take to heart.

To take this a little further, sometimes it is necessary to put up with bullshit at work if only to better yourself or move on up. Years ago when I started working fulltime in Taipei, I had a mediocre salary, a DOS computer (I assure you this is true and also that this was in the last decade), and a 6-day working week. Six days as in Monday to Saturday or Sunday to Friday. I had a relative who himself was just finishing university and he constantly sneered at my job. While I hated the work conditions at that job myself, I did appreciate the fact I had a fulltime job and I didn’t like anyone insulting it, even a relative. Fast-forward now and I just started work in China, with the pay and conditions a little better than my previous job, which was in turn better than the first job. That crappy (putting it mildly) first job helped me land my second job and even my current job. It’s not as if I’m doing anything mindblowing or rolling in the dough, but at least I’ve been able to do more than I expected many years ago as a clueless college student. That same relative is now doing a temp job, after having lost his last job, and his best fulltime job was basically similar to my first job except for the DOS computer.

Earlier this year I read a long article on Aeon about China’s “balinghou” (people born in the 80s) and the pressures they face. It was a great article, full of interesting details, anecdotes, and presented a vivid image of what it’s like to grow up in today’s China, mainly Beijing and Shanghai. Well, who’d have guessed I’d be calling the author a colleague. Anyways he’s at it again recently with another fine piece – this about China’s Uighur people, from Xinjiang, and their place (or lack of) in Chinese society.

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