Society in lockdown

Waste society

With the humanitarian disaster aside, those of us in lockdown have an unusual view of society. Where I live, there are several supermarkets and busy roads, so when I look out of the window, it is usually an endless parade of yuppiemobiles. Now, with all the unessential jobs being closed, I can see modern society in its purest form.

When I look out of the window, I see a trickle of vehicles, the occasional dog walker, and people exercising — sometimes I am one of them. It goes without saying that I prefer things this way. In fact, I would go as far as to say that if we were still able to visit family and friends, it would be almost perfect in terms of lifestyle.

As someone who is due to enter back into the world of work in approximately one year, providing my PhD doesn’t get extended, which it probably will, I am not exactly thrilled at the prospect. Not because I don’t like working, I spend most of my day at my computer working on various projects, but because I know the dilemma is waiting.

The dilemma? Take a job that pays well, an office job that really shouldn’t exist and should have been replaced by software years ago, but is still in place to help justify all manner of resource-blackholes. I am thinking of something in finance, middle-management, sales or marketing here. Or, I do something that is socially useful and remunerated far less for e.g. researcher.

My overriding thoughts for a while have been: “why haven’t the increases in technology over the years, reduced the number of hours we need to work?” We moved from the fields to the factories, and now to the offices with importance degrading at each step.

We still need to work as much as if we were in the fields. Most office jobs require us to be on-call and act as if we are busy 100% of the working day. We have spread out the work, by padding it with lengthy stints of wandering around the internet and becoming Walter Mitties. Let’s wake-up from this collective stupor, do the things that are important and spend the rest of the time working on something we believe to be important.

Hopefully, there will be some form of transformation in society from the current crisis. Maybe we should start paying people with essential jobs as if they were essential. Why is there an inverse relationship between relative importance to society and compensation?

Probably lots of social and historical reasons that I don’t understand!

Well, there are my ramblings from inside the lockdown 2020. I hope those who celebrate Easter have a great day! I have already eaten one chocolate egg whilst writing this—time for a dose of government-mandated physical exertion.


Published by Louis

Spend less than you earn, Invest the surplus, avoid debt. Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

25 thoughts on “Society in lockdown

  1. This is a great post. You are right to highlight the inequalities in the pay structure. I hope we see some sort of change after this has passed. My PhD was halted due to ill health resulting in severe disability. I have carers twice a day. They are on minimum wage and zero hours contracts. I could not live my life without them. It’s a disgrace that they are paid so poorly. They now ‘on the frontline’ . People use this phrase to refer to anyone in a job where they are in danger of catching Covid-19. Most of them are absolutely essential to keep the country running and should be recognised accordingly.

    I am assuming that your doctorate is science based and you therefore don’t have to do a large amount of writing. In that case I can understand why you feel the need to improve. My problem is entirely the opposite – I have done so much academic writing (MA in Political Theory) that I find it difficult to write in the style more suitable to blogging!

    If I can be of any help please don’t hesitate although I have to say I find your writing good to read

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thought provoking post!
    So many of those ‘social and historical reasons’.
    Those with power; political and financial and the whims of populist appeal dictate remuneration, not importance to society.
    Can anyone change that?
    I see no way this pandemic will affect control of power in the world, or the priorities of those who hold it.
    That’s a bit depressing isn’t it?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Of course, those in power will try to hold on. But perhaps there will be small, consistent, meaningful changes by the masses – which will have some positive influence.


  3. Excellent read and I agree completely regarding the pay schedule in our country. Why do actors, actresses, sports players, CEOs and so forth require such outrageous salaries when our hospital workers, EMT’s, police, firefighters, and even our military (the ones that actually do the protecting of our way of life) get paid so little in comparison. Got to stop, it’s Easter, time for some chocolate. Have a great Easter and again – Good read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Because people value entertainment and hence pay huge amounts for it…which is dictated by the industries that grew to set up this status quo.

      If the ‘market’ (i.e. us as consumers) stopped indulging so much and valued it less, the sales value would drop, those industries would shrink, and salaries for those activities would drop. Just look at the sports people who are now taking salary cuts because their occupation – their output – is no longer being consumed because it’s effectively on hold.

      Maybe this crisis will teach us as people what matters and where our spending power should really be prioritised….

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Your question “why haven’t the increases in technology over the years, reduced the number of hours we need to work?” reminds me of Ian Malcolm’s monologue in the first Jurassic Park novel. He addresses that very question and even points out we worked less when we had less technology. … Unfortunately I forgot how the quote went. But if you have time to read, it’s a good book.

    I too hope this involves change in society. Especially because the question regarding essential work not being paid as such really needs to change. Honestly, I think it’s done to exert control over those people and thus more control over society \o/

    Liked by 3 people

  5. After reading Cal Newport’s Deep Work (a book on, well, work that requires deep thinking), I have questioned some of the same things that are going through your mind. If you are bored while cooped up, I think you might enjoy the book (in e-book form, of course, because that’d be a germ-free way of reading it). Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There’s a theory about work expanding to fill the amount of time allocated to it. I would guess that this is why we we’re still in that setup… because the corporate policies have not adapted and still require a factory-like adherence to set working hours, instead of basing productivity on actual work done (or output – where it’s properly measurable).

    That said, working at home has hopefully given many of us more pockets of time to spend in other ventures. And perhaps the economic repercussions will cause companies to cut working time, allowing people to diversify their income streams and work on projects that mean more to them.

    Who knows?

    Everything is a big blue right now…with no end in sight.

    But we just try our best 😌.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. The most important job in the world. bringing up the next generation, is paid nothing. I think that we are supposed to feel paid in satisfaction. It’s all to do with money, isn’t it? I would suggest you find a job that makes you happy rather than rich but others might disagree.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wage vs labor vs work vs job, it’s all linked.
    Wage is no doubt a capitalist creation that divorced workers from owners.
    Labor should be done by robots.
    Work is just that.
    But a job is an endeavor to create or produce or provide a service.

    > Why is there an inverse relationship between relative importance to society and compensation?

    Owners, capitalists, created the illusion that all “jobs” must be wage based. And as soon as you do that you can commoditize all tasks. And once a thing becomes a commodity, its is owned and controlled by the rich.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Well said, Louis. There is a definite collective stupor occurring across most organisations and most people will struggle to wake up from it, let alone realise it and act to change the way things are within the current system applied at their workplace. Crazy, right?!


  10. Hi, I only just noticed this post. I was wondering how you are getting on.

    I’m self-isolating too, but exercise each day and meet my friends online, so I still see lots of people that way. I study from home. Like you, I prefer (or almost prefer) the staying in. I wish you the best with how you proceed once you get your PhD. Stay safe!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Its so weird though, now in a lockdown we have realized we are taking so many things for granted. Like our environment as well. we miss going out and actually feeling free and not consciously worrying about getting a disease. Now we go out and feel like we are putting our lives in danger. Probably we made our mother nature feel like that when we used to come out,. destroying our surroundings with garbage,plastic, etc. I guess we are just facing karma.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. You pictures rubish atop this post. Rubbish collecting is surely a most essential job.
    There is a very simple solution in this respect. Tax all material purchases to cover the cost of their collection and disposal. So if you go walking and you find rubbish, it is treasure!
    All the world will be employed in street cleaning.
    It will never happen!


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