Could ‘Do What You Love’ be the worst advice?

Picture credit: Jessica

Miya Tokumitsu looks at the popularity of ‘Do What You Love’ as career and life advice and has some hard questions:

There’s little doubt that “do what you love” (DWYL) is now the unofficial work mantra for our time. The problem is that it leads not to salvation, but to the devaluation of actual work, including the very work it pretends to elevate?— and more importantly, the dehumanization of the vast majority of laborers.

Do What You Love can distract us from the real business of earning a living wage and, worse, become a tool for exploitation:

According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation, but an act of self-love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace.

Do What You Love excludes those who, for whatever reason, cannot follow their heart:

One consequence of this isolation is the division that DWYL creates among workers, largely along class lines. Work becomes divided into two opposing classes: that which is lovable (creative, intellectual, socially prestigious) and that which is not (repetitive, unintellectual, undistinguished). Those in the lovable work camp are vastly more privileged in terms of wealth, social status, education, society’s racial biases, and political clout, while comprising a small minority of the workforce.

For those forced into unlovable work, it’s a different story. Under the DWYL credo, labor that is done out of motives or needs other than love (which is, in fact, most labor) is not only demeaned but erased.

Hop across to read the whole article for some robust challenges to the way DWYL has become a tool for those who wish to exploit people working for love.

Her conclusion:

In masking the very exploitative mechanisms of labor that it fuels, DWYL is, in fact, the perfect ideological tool of capitalism. It shunts aside the labor of others and disguises our own labor to ourselves. It hides the fact that if we acknowledged all of our work as work, we could set appropriate limits for it, demanding fair compensation and humane schedules that allow for family and leisure time.

And if we did that, more of us could get around to doing what it is we really love.

About Andrew Halfacre

I can help you figure out what you really want and recover the motivation to go after it.
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