Today we have a book recommendation from Darby Pop founder, Jeff Kline, for Craig Lambert’s “Shadow Work – The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day.” As a 28-year old, none of the points Jeff is about to highlight initially resonated with me; I’ve spent my entire adult life with a cell phone in my pocket, pumping my own gas, and arranging my own travel plans. Yet, reading this, I started to wonder just how many hours I would’ve “saved” if that wasn’t the case. How much time have I spent on seemingly innocuous tasks that were previously performed by others? And how many more hours per week will I spend on “shadow work” even as I’m feeling more and stressed by the demands of modern life and career?
Until next time,
Hey All –
Little gives me more satisfaction than finding a justification for my preternatural crankiness, so imagine my joy upon reading Shadow Work – The Unpaid, Unseen Jobs That Fill Your Day by Craig Lambert.
I realize that this blog is beginning to feel like the “New York Times Book Review,” but if you’ve been wondering why you seem busier now than at any other time in your life…and why all the additional leisure time the computer age was supposed to deliver has never materialized…Shadow Work has the answer(s).
Remember when you used to call a travel agent to book your vacation?
Now, thanks to technology, you perform that labor all by yourself. And spend hours comparing flights, hotels, rental cars, and blackout dates.
Remember when a checkout clerk would scan and bag your groceries?
Now, to avoid the long lines due to personnel cutbacks, you often handle those tasks yourself at a “self-serve” kiosks.
Remember when an attendant pumped your gas, checked your fluids, and measured your tire pressure?
Remember when a bank teller handled your financial transactions? And a stockbroker oversaw your investments?
Remember when a bookcase came assembled?
Lambert refers to the (perhaps) predictable side-effect of encroaching technology as “middle class serfdom,” and when same is combined with the complete erasure of the line between “work time” and “free time,” well…now you know why you’re so damn tired all the time.
Up until a month or two ago, I refused to get a smartphone; it was my private protest against employers assuming that I would be available 24/7, and a desperate attempt to show my friends/family that they were already more-than-enough to keep me entertained.
The Darby Pop Family liked to take pictures of my beloved flip-phone, and post them to websites I couldn’t visit. School children were amazed when I explained that my handset could neither take photos nor surf. And even texting required me to tap the same key three times to scroll to a “c.”
But, with my growing dependence on Uber/Lyft, and Darby Pop’s need to use a Square device at comic conventions, I finally gave up. And bought an iPhone. (Actually…it was nearly free; I hadn’t used my “earned upgrade” in about two decades…)
Yes, the iPhone is convenient. Yes, it takes amazing photos. Yes, it let’s Darby Pop accept a credit card even when there’s no wi-fi.
But, the damn thing also promises that there’s ALWAYS something out there more interesting than what I’m doing at any given moment. And absolutely no person-to-person interaction is required.
Which means…I, too, have become both socially and creatively dependent upon a handheld machine.
And, as per Lambert’s book, that machine wholly intends to put me to work!
Founder – Darby Pop Publishing