With the release of the movie Ender’s Game, many people have been asking whether the political and religious views of the book’s author, Orson Scott Card, should affect their opinion of the movie. Though I have not been following the debate closely, I understand that some people even called for a boycott of the film (which, evidently, was not successful). On the geek culture podcast The Incomparable, host Jason Snell used the occasion to speak more broadly about authors whose views, personality, or later writing caused him and his fellow panelists to reject their earlier, classic work. The podcast – entitled “I Assume Everyone Is Awful” – is quite good, and I recommend listening to it. They cover many of the same authors that I’ve given up on or struggled with myself.
Throughout the podcast, though, I kept wondering about an assumption at the heart of the conversation. Would it have made sense for them to be discussing, say, accountants and plumbers in the same way? Even staying within the work of writing, should we care about the political or religious views of technology writers? Since the Romantics, art has been regarded differently than other kind of work. Art has been considered to be a form of personal expression different in quality than other forms of work, and the artist has been considered the kind of person whose expressions matter more than other persons.
I’m not convinced that art should be considered as a different category of work, which led me to wonder:
Should our work be considered a form of personal expression?
There are at least three valid answers to this question. Continue reading Should We Consider Our Work a Form of Personal Expression?
Last week, I wrote about the how the roles we play at work can influence our self-identity, focusing on a couple of “bad guy” roles like the one played by Wreck-It Ralph. But that’s not the only role that can have a negative influence on our self-image.
Roles We Play
The Drone: Doing the same thing, over and over, day after day, can drain you of energy and creativity, especially when you have little control over the details of your work. Your mental and physical exhaustion can spill over into the rest of your life, and your attitude can become one of simply enduring the time you have left. Once, while working a particular difficult and tedious one summer in college, I kept myself entertained – if you can call it that – by mentally calculating how much money I was making every minute I worked and keeping a running tab on my pay. Maybe that’s fine for a summer job, but what happens when you’ve been doing that for years?
The Doormat: Like the Drone, the Doormat has little power over his work – at least, any power to say “no” about any part of his work. When any conflict arises, the Doormat expects to simply roll over and allow the other side to win. It might be the boss, customers, coworkers, clients – it doesn’t really matter. If the Doormat has any opinions, he’s expected to keep them to himself and say “yes” to whatever is being proposed. Continue reading What Roles Do You Play at Work?
Every year, U.S. News and World Report ranks the “best jobs” in the US. For 2013, the “best jobs” were:
- Registered nurse
- Computer systems analyst
- Database administrator
- Software developer
- Physical therapist
- Web developer
- Dental hygenist
Health care and technology dominate the list. What else do these jobs have in common?
- They are well compensated. Some professions, like physicians and dentist, are famously well-paid, but all of these provide you with a solid middle- to upper-class lifestyle.
- They require specialized skills and talents. Not only do they require years of education, they also certain habits of mind in order to be successful. It’s relatively easy (compared to some other fields) to distinguish who belongs in the discipline and who is just a pretender. Beyond the compensation, the specializiation and high degree of skill confers a high level of respect for people who are good at these jobs. (People outside the profession might not even have a clear idea of what they do!)
- They are in high demand. Both health and technology are growing at rates beyond the rest of the economy, which offers both security and a high degree of autonomy for people in these fields. Right now, at my work, we’re trying to hire a web developer, and it’s common for highly skilled developers to receive several attractive job offers at the same time. As a result, developers can be extremely selective, choosing a job that is just the right fit for their preferences.
In summary, the “best jobs” are well paid, highly respected, and secure. Who wouldn’t want that? Well, that’s a complicated question.
What Makes a Job “Good”?
The jobs identified as “best” were ranked by a specific formula:
- 10-Year Growth Volume (10%)
- 10-Year Growth Percentage (10%)
- Median Salary (30%)
- Job Prospects (20%)
- Employment Rate (20%)
- Stress Level (5%)
- Work-Life Balance (5%)
Security (in terms of job growth, employment rate, and prospects) and compensation (median salary) were weighted more heavily in the formula, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the “best jobs” were those that delivered on those qualities. Continue reading Which Is the Best Job?