Wednesday, April 03, 2019

100 Bullshit Jobs...And How to Get Them by Stanley Bing

I may have found the most 2006 book ever. (And I hope someone won't be saying the identical thing about 2019 a decade from now, though I wouldn't bet against it.)

2006, of course, was the height of the last big American boom, driven by the last big delusional Republican American president -- and, at the time, we thought those both were heights that would never be bettered. (Insert hollow laugh here.)

And the mostly humorous business writer "Stanley Bing" -- he has some other name, which I could probably find without too much trouble, under which he has lived a real career as an actual mid-level corporate manager -- summed up all of the highlights of that era in his book 100 Bullshit Jobs...And How to Get Them.

This is indeed a list of 100 jobs, alphabetically, each with a pseudo-scientific and mostly humorous mathematical formula to determine just how bullshit each of them is. Up front is an introduction explaining the formula and the project, but the bulk of the book is running through those hundred jobs and describing what they do in breezy tones, starting (obviously) with pay and running through the skills required, duties, famous folks with that job, how the reader can get into it, and so on.

Bullshit isn't the same as easy, of course. A job can have long, grueling hours and still be entirely bullshit. But there's an essential lack of honesty and centeredness that characterizes the true bullshit job, and many people aspire to that state of not-caring and want to find a way to skate by everything serious and weighty.

Bing begins with Advertising Executive and runs through Yoga Franchiser before hitting #100 with, in the best business-book fashion, You. Because every business book is always about You: how you can win friends and influence people, or move the cheese, or lean in, or whatever piece of bullshit advice that particular writer thinks will sound plausible to you so he can make a fortune.

Bing knows this, and lays on the smarm at the end, with not only the final job being whatever the hell it is You do, but adding a short conclusion entirely on "Transforming your job into a bullshit job," which is of course what we all clearly aspired to in 2006.

Obviously, 100 Bullshit Jobs is a massive exercise in bullshit itself -- that's the point. Any of the jobs listed here can be bullshit, and so can a whole lot of other jobs. (Our current President, for example, is showing that you can make any job a bullshit job -- I hope Bing is proud.) Any job can also not be bullshit: like a crime, making a job bullshit requires motive, means and opportunity -- you have to have the chance to make that job bullshit, and you have to want to do it.

If you do have that desire, know that Bing's book is out there as a roadmap. The world is slightly less friendly to bullshit jobs after the last financial crash than it was in 2006 -- I have a vague, probably-bullshit-theory itself that this has been the case for every crash, and that bullshit builds up afterwards in the fat periods -- but there's still plenty of it out there, and 2006 is close enough to 2019 that the models here still mostly work.

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