On Bell Let’s Talk Day

I’m already on the record about my queasiness on corporations using their enormous wealth to piggy-back on health and social welfare issues for the sake of good publicity, so no need to ruffle more feathers on that score.

That said, today is as good as any to briefly quote a passage that spoke to me last year in the midst of a kind of shitty work life period. This is from Matthew B. Crawford, who himself quotes French sociologist Alain Ehrenberg, on our increasing atomization in a digital age, and our obsession with individual autonomy as a cardinal modern virtue:

Our weariness is understandable. With radical responsibility comes a new emphasis on personal initiative, and a corollary “culture of performance” in which you have to constantly marshal your internal resources to be successful, as Ehrenberg says. […] In a culture of performance, the individual reads the status and value of her soul in her worldly accomplishments. Like the Calvinist, she looks to her success in order to know: Am I one of the elect or the damned? With radical responsibility comes the spectre of inadequacy.

And later:

The question that hovers over your character is no longer how good you are, but of how capable you are, where capacity is measured in something like kilowatt hours—the raw capacity to make things happen. With this shift comes a new pathology. The affliction of guilt has given way to weariness—weariness with the vague and unending project of becoming one’s fullest self. We call this depression.

Remember, you are not your job. Your work is not your worth.

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