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Avoid People, Avoid Problems (Remote Work, A.I., Newbie Culture, and Workplace Disaster Avoidance)

Work is often worsened by people.

By Wade WainioPublished 3 years ago 8 min read

I've long been a misanthrope, and the events of 2020-2021 seem to only validate my hatreds and suspicions further. Still, I don't wish to be a simpleminded people-basher. There is somewhat of an opportunity to broaden my horizons through moderate misanthropy, maybe even making it work for people rather than against them. In fact, I think my misanthropic views might provide valuable insights into improving the workplace (such as it is). How's that for a bold concept?

Even if I can't turn that frown upside down, maybe I can straighten it out so it stares back in a flat, cold demeanor and comes that much closer to thawing out some hideous, ill-fitting hearts and minds. So let's start with what makes so many jobs thankless, insidious, mind-numbing things, and conceive of ways to claw ourselves out of their worst aspects, and maybe into a slightly better tomorrow.

One of Those Ultimate Paradoxes: What Makes Work Suck? The Same Things That Motivate!

First, let's assess the overall framework of how work has often happened in the modern, corporate-overdosed economy (in which most of us take part). Let's face it: A lot of jobs exist because people basically feel trapped, or at least heavily hemmed in, by their depressing circumstances. Even putting aside longstanding issues like discrimination, plenty of us fear branching out into other work because, ultimately, the economy has some elements of a caste system. Rags to riches stories certainly exist, and some of them are true, but will they truly be true for you? Probably not, right? So grab this bucket and this mop, grab that burger-flippin' spatula, and just accept your place on the totem pole, you hapless peasant!

Well, it might not always have to be that way. As someone who has genuinely branched off into other fields, almost as a whim or a joke, I can at least say I've had proof of concept regarding other avenues of success. I doubt I am the only one. This is not to say you'll have instant, magical results when you branch off into a new workplace or become an entrepreneur. In fact, there's always a chance you'll fail and fail again. However, if you can dust yourself off and pick up the pieces, you might just make it.

In fact, why not make your perceived wasted potential work for you? Let it be your motivator. Think of it this way: How many great scientific discoveries might be delayed because our economic system is such garbage, with greed being way too much of a motivator? Here are some of the biggest recent space discoveries, for example.

Imagine how much more advanced our knowledge might be if more humans scoffed at others' attempts to pigeonhole them into pointless drudgery! Are you the next Albert Einstein or [insert other scientist's name here]? Show those naysaying pricks a thing or two by making some bold new discovery!

Paradoxically, maybe you're fine with being a lowly burger-flipper or a mop bucket pusher. I'm not solely here to mock you (though plenty will). In fact, I actually prefer having at least a part-time physical job, in addition to whatever other work I might be doing. In fact, I actually like the idea of having at least one foot on that lower rung, so long as I can use that broom handle to occasionally jab at those supposedly above me. You don't have to be poor. You don't have to be rich. You just need to be, baby! If you can work your way up that ladder a little bit, you can use whatever small amount of power you have to improve your situation. That's what it's all about, and what it has to be about in this bullshit world.

And, as they say, poverty is the mother of invention. If nothing else, you can invent a small, surprisingly well-built house to live in while richer losers worry about making their goddamn mortgage payments. Plus, if you're living under a freeway overpass, you probably won't be as worried about traffic reports or being late for your dumb-ass job. Can you MacGyver a semi-comfy hammock out of multi-layered garbage bags? Be the innovator and find out!

You might not stay poor forever, either. Don't forget, that MyPillow guy was a crack addict before he became a pillow salesman and absolute rightwing, evangelical loon who tried to overthrow the national election and install a former reality TV star as a dictator. Make a name for yourself, you stupid, twisted bastard! Rags to riches, baby! (Just never ask why os many people were in "rags" to begin with, as that question requires one to have the slightest hint of a rebellious mindset.)

Remote Work (or E-Work, or Whatever Dumb Things We're Calling It)

As a misanthrope, I like remote work because, in the grand scheme of things, it cuts down on my need to interact with people face-to-face on a job. I also like the illusion that I can create my own hours, which some remote work allows. Plus, I can always still work a regular day job if I need the money or simply wish to punish myself.

Still, remote work has plenty of skeptics/critics/haters. They'll say things like: “What we’ve learned over the last few years is that, in many cases, remote work isn’t the best work option for many people. If you want to be effective, it’s important to have that face-to-face interaction. And the best way to have that is to have a regular schedule at a physical location." Admittedly, that's not a real quote from somebody else, but it sounds like the sort of shit some people say.

My disagreement here is not very extreme. In fact, it's barely a disagreement. Honestly, I at least like the idea of being able to"warm up" to people and even the basic premise of teamwork. However, most corporate work-team I've been involved with has some creepy Jim Jones vibes, only with the added lameness of being fanatically obsessed with that corporate concept of "getting the most out of your time." In contrast, I'm more like, "Get the most out of your own time, motherfucker. Leave mine to me!"

Let's be honest: The only reason I'd be at the average corporate job is because of money, which I am told I need in order to buy stuff. So, I need to put up with their time-consuming "workflow" and leap through a certain amount of hoops (pr, actually, it is often an uncertain amount of hoops). The almighty dollar is my primary Innovation Coach, and I only need that to avoid having the cops show up to remove me from my place and make me homeless.

So, when I hear something like “Remote work isn’t really about the work, it’s about people," I become like a Scoff-Matic machine, and that sentiment might even be worthy of a middle finger or two. Work is not cutely about working in the same place, spending any time together, having fun, and petting happy puppies and fluffy bunnies. It's an existential threat to prevent other possible existential threats. You don't even have time to say, "That doesn’t make sense to me.” You shut up and do the work or get thrown into the scrap heap.

In most cases nowadays, work exists because greedy a-holes came along and privatized the commons. And the irony is, technological advances increasingly render entire industries useless. Hell, even the crap I'm doing right here (writing) could theoretically be done by A.I. (artificial intelligence) instead, and plenty of people would be none the wiser. But is our economy liberating the population to make life easier with these advancements? Of course not, you blubbering fool!

They'll still throw us out on the street if we're poor because they don't give a fuck! Can't be a spontaneous cash fountain or a magical money tree? Tough tits, mister! Here's a fetid gutter for you (then again, most places might want their gutters clean, so even that would be too nice of a home for you...they might just keep moving you along until you're finally just moved into a grave over in some random-ass potter's field).

What Does All This Mean? WTF is Company Culture?

Okay, so I've said some depressing/distressing things here as any good, crybaby "liberal" should. But what does it all mean? What are the ultimate dots I'm trying to connect together here? What's the cherry or ribbon on top to make this a more cohesive, palatable, possibly even more useful piece?

Well, hopefully, it just activates your corporate bullshit detector. What does it mean when people refer to "company culture," or "corporate culture"? What should you think when someone says something like: “Your culture and your business will suffer if people are not able to do their best work." Well, if you've tapped into my logic here, you'll see that as some sneaky talk of some kind. Normal people don't tend to speak Corporate-ese like that. They often try to avoid being too fluent in that bullshit.

That being said, it's not all absolutely, 100% bullshit and garbage. For example, April Armstrong, CEO at AHA Insight, defines company culture as "the unwritten, unspoken norms that drive the behavior of how people work together, coexist together and get things done."

As much as I want to mock that definition, I must agree there's something to it. Still, I don't know if the word "culture" is exactly right, is it? I know when I worked in an office environment (selling my soul for a tiny paycheck), I couldn’t focus as well if the people around me were, you know, having an ordinary talk and acting like regular people. In other words, work was almost more like the absence of culture (or maybe an abscess on culture). We were not expected to discuss much negative news, personal worries, or even goof around much. You were mostly expected to work. Some culture!

So, if you are shaking my head as if to say "No" about any of this, my advice is to think through how people actually act in this corporate world. Also, ask yourself to what extent good judgment can be applied in a fictionalized environment that treats often mindless work as a rewarding component of "culture." Ask yourself if a system that treats you like an enemy if you lack $$ is really your best buddy in the whole wide world. It's not just me being a radical leftist here. What I am typing about is real, and it's ready to screw you over if you don't feed it more money. That's right. America's a bit like a giant, psychotic vending machine with razor-sharp teeth. If you don't slip in that money fast enough, it might just take a bite out of your arm.

Then again, I'm not sure how well that analogy blends in with this overall piece. Just consider it a reactionary statement to the overflowing Disney-fied joy of corporate culture (or the Mega-Corporate Mickey Mouse Militia). Also, considering how low our standards are for culture, especially after electing a number of dim-witted, conspiracy-theory-laden charlatans, I'd say I can get away with typing all sorts of claptrap and still come out looking alright. Lowered standards do have a way of making us feel better about ourselves, right?


About the Creator

Wade Wainio

Wade Wainio writes stuff for Show Snob, Undead Walking,, Vents Magazine and Haunted MTL. He is also an artist, musician and college radio DJ for WMTU 91.9 FM Houghton.

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    Wade WainioWritten by Wade Wainio

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