Society in lockdown

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 Take a job that pays well, an office job that really shouldn’t exist and should have been replaced by software years ago, but is still in place to help justify all manner of resource-blackholes.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.