Do Something that Matters

A couple of weeks ago a friend posted a link to the following article on facebook and a few hours later a reader emailed it to me as well. The article is a wonderful and thought provoking piece from Slate: In the Name of Love.

Miya Tokumitsu begins with the mantra,

Do what you love. Love what you do.

I admit, there is something very appealing about embracing this mantra as a life philosophy.

But what if you don’t? What if you don’t love your job? Is the solution really to quit it and follow your passion?

I witness college students changing their major weeks before graduation and am just baffled by most of these changes because it extends their time in college, increases debt load, and increases the chance of life getting in the way of the degree. For some jobs, your major absolutely does matter. For other jobs, the major matters less if at all. Personally, one reason I came to sociology was because I love it. I love the promise of sociology. I love how it makes sense of the world. I love reading sociology. So I majored in it. I don’t regret that decision at all, but the reality is that I could still read sociology without majoring in it. I could still love sociology without doing it for my job. I have a job as an academic, a job highlighted in the Slate article. I have nothing more to add to Tokumitsu’s points on academia, so I’ll move on a bit.

Emphasizing the love of a job enables employers to pay workers less money. The reality is that love does not pay my mortgage. More importantly however is that we need people doing jobs that they might not particularly love. I think Mike Rowe articulates this point well, though he might go a bit further than I would advise in encouraging non-college based careers. I’ve just noticed an all or nothing mentality: people either encourage everyone to go to college or express anti-college ideology. Both do a disservice to actual people (particularly, young people) and those giving the advice run the risk of reinforcing inequality.

Employers, however, are not solely responsible for low wages when we take into consideration entrepreneurs who undervalue their time as argued in Homeward Bound and customers who expect everything for free (thanks, Internet!) or very low cost (thanks, Wal-Mart!).

So how does this fit into the scrapbooking industry? The lessons are this:

  1. Value your time. If you are an entrepreneur charge customers for the labor you actually do. This includes invisible labor such as thinking about your design or whatever it is your doing. I’ve toyed with the idea of including a donation button on this site. I’m not quite there, but think it might be an appropriate payment model for a site such as this. Moreover, negotiate for a higher salary when possible. Ask for a raise. I’m certainly not completely on board with Sheryl Sandburg’s version of Lean In feminism, but if a job offer has been made, asking for higher pay won’t take the job offer away.
  2. Pay for things as a customer. For example, I paid to use RSS service after google reader (free) went away. As a customer, I have particular issues with affiliate marketing or being sold something else. For example, I do consume a couple of podcasts without subscribing to the service the company is selling. I have subscribed to one of these services in the past and the reality is that I don’t use it. I would prefer to just donate to the company without the subscription, but this option is not available. I also don’t always need or want what is being sold to me through affiliate marketing and I don’t always remember who told me about it first to give them credit when I do make the purchase. There is also the challenge when all the bloggers are promoting the same product (think about the Silhouette promotions). Who do I buy from when everyone is promoting it? Point: A company/person has to make it easy for a customer/consumer to actually support them financially.
  3. Don’t mislead. Sure, college isn’t for everyone, but neither is internet entrepreneurship. A start would be for Interent entrepreneurs (including bloggers) to disclose how much money they actually earn and how they earn it, such as what Pat Flynn does. Even then, the majority of his income comes from affiliate marketing and his income stream overall is far more active than passive. In the interest of full disclosure: my expenses cost more than my income from this website.
  4. Replace the mantra: “Do what you love. Love what you do.” How about, Do Something that Matters? I like Do Something that Matters. This helps moving towards revaluing work such as hotel cleaning and garbage collecting. These are difficult jobs and in the case of hotel cleaning, poorly paid. These jobs are important jobs. We need people to do these jobs.



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