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Dreaming Of Some Kind Of Purpose: How 'Labour' Functions In My Life

I wouldn't say I'm a particularly informed leftist. I have a vague idea, due to living in a world that insists on underpaying and overworking myself and the people I love, that things are wrong and that they need changing. I think that on occasion I even do some good things, like donating money and even time to causes I believe in. But I'm not an activist, and I'm not a good source of information when it comes to the technical stuff. If you asked me about the specifics of capitalism vs. socialism, I probably couldn't tell you. But I can tell you that everyone's basic needs should be taken care of by the state and that you shouldn't have to work for 40 hours and still not be able to pay your rent. These facts seem obvious. 

Sometimes, I try to think about what my life would look like if I didn't have to work at all. There was a brief trend on YouTube where people would discuss the idea of labour, dream jobs and the idea that we are expected to position our lives around working for 40 years and then retiring. You may have heard the phrase 'I don't dream of labour' around the internet, which is what these videos were trying to get at - that in an ideal world, working would not be the crux of one's life. Now, I'm aware that there has been further critiques of these videos, stating that they often come from people who can afford to just abandon their work and live a labour-free life but to be fair, people have been criticising champagne socialism since socialism became a thing. I don't necessarily believe that you have to have grown up poor and working class to recognise the way that we are encouraged to structure our lives is killing us and how this way of living is presented as natural and unchangeable.

I'm of the belief that if I didn't need to work, as in my basic needs (food, shelter, clean drinking water and safety) were taken care of and I didn't need money, I would still perform some kind of labour. I wouldn't do pointless jobs where I'm sat in an office for 8 hours doing 3 hours of work, bored out of my mind, but rather I would indulge in hobbies that I can't pursue because most of my day is taken up with travelling to and from work, and doing a job that barely challenges my brain to think creatively. I've contemplated the labour I perform for free, the most evident being writing. 

I maintain this blog, I write poetry, I write screenplays and I occasionally submit film reviews and critiques to online sites for publishing. I make no money from this at all. Because I have been groomed to believe that all work should be paid, I do try. I promote my ko-fi under every post and on Twitter. I have pitched to sites that pay writers. But freelancing is hard and people don't want to pay for creative work. I do this because I've always loved writing, creating little worlds, using words to convey what's going on in my sad little brain. I even love writing essays - I love doing research and learning about new things. 

I often make submissions to the site Unconsenting Media, which anyone can do for free, so I can add to a resource helping those who have experienced sexual violence to navigate films, books and TV shows. Similar to this, I've recently been using The Movie Database to contribute posters and film details to more obscure movies so they appear on Letterboxd. Whether or not anyone would even pay me do these tasks isn't the point. I can do them and I spend my free time doing them because I have the skills to and it's helping people. That would be enough for me. If I didn't have to pay rent.

If there were no jobs, people would peform labour and they would help each other unprompted because it was the kind thing to do and because they had the skills to do so. As it stands, I have skills that I use every day but are so specific to my job that outside of it, they don't come in handy that much. If I didn't have to work this particular job, I'd probably never use them. But other skills I have acquired would serve me and other people well, if only I had more time to cultivate them.


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