What You Can’t Do – “The Modern Worker Enjoying His Liberty”

Every week I try to write a post. Try to prove to myself that I’m a writer, a thinker, an activist.

Some weeks it is easier than others. Last week, writing poured from me. Not writing anything would have been harder!

Other weeks, it’s like blood from a tired stone.

Being a consumer and a worker in an atomised society means a lot of demands. Not only the hours of work and around that, but the maintenance of living: cleaning, cooking, recovering.


Sometimes it’s hard to feel like your life is your own. Having hobbies feels like a battle against exhaustion and inertia. Interests feel beyond your price range. Every activity demands its pound of flesh: an internet provider, equipment, energy, time.

Nothing is free, not even your attention. People wiser than me have observed that we’re the product, not the customer, when we browse free websites, read news, even on this blog there are adverts all over.

We can’t pay attention to all of it. We can’t even enjoy all of it. It’s overwhelming and inescapable.

Unlike humans, capitalist culture is built on endless growth; it’s how money works. Investors buy in, companies expand, and the investors profit. Legally, companies are obliged only to provide monetary value. Within it, all human workers right up to CEOs follow systems designed to grow numbers. All other concerns are secondary, from welfare rights to the impact on the planet.

Humans can’t grow exponentially. We grow gradually, like other natural phenomena. It’s not a surprise we can’t summon endless reserves of energy to work, create and achieve all our goals. It’s because we aren’t designed to.

they're not better they are rich 1

There isn’t meant to be a crunched-down pressure to preserve our souls against the world we live in. Our natural world isn’t easy, but it isn’t designed to slowly crush us. We’re not designed to have endless demands on our time and attention. “All the world’s knowledge” is not meant to fit in our pocket. Our surroundings are not meant to be numbingly “comfortable” and lacking in freedom.

And yet even within this stifling and “rich” society, there are still outsiders, which is worse. Homelessness exists, despite a surplus of homes. Safety is always conditional on being “productive” enough. Not being productive comes with a price tag that few can afford.

kim k earring

Acknowledging that we’re not infinite is a big ask. We always want to do more. We try to copy the ruthless efficiency of the capitalist machines around us. Comparing ourselves to people who can wield those machines is a losing game. We cannot compete. We’re the proleteriat, and we’re not in full control of our lives.

Accepting this is a slow-burn. It doesn’t mean we need to give up our joy. By accepting that our power is limited, we can give ourselves permission to stop wasting it on what doesn’t matter to us. they're not better they are rich 2

I don’t want to spend time letting Facebook gather data on me, or letting news sites advertise to me, or helping a company pick my brain in a survey to make it more ruthless. I’ve given up giving away money and self-esteem to soulless billionaires in the pursuit of a manufactured perfection.

I choose me over the companies, and I’m proud of me for that.

I hope you enjoy what is left of your free time today. Thanks for reading.

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