996. Have you heard of it?
Don’t worry, I hadn’t heard about it either….
“So what is it?” I asked.
996 is an absurd working schedule commonly practiced by some companies in China where employees must work from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, 6 days per week (72 hours per week.)
My Chinese student was smiling as she explained it to me, as if it was the most normal thing in the world!
As if it were a reward for enduring all those years of university.
Contrast this to my Russian student with whom I’ve recently been discussing David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs with and it’s an anomaly!
“A bullshit job is a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case.”
He reckons that the ruling class has figured out that a happy and productive population with free time on their hands is a mortal danger.
As a gallivanting gypsy, I sometimes feel guilty for not working as much as the average person.
Yes, I do a lot of volunteering and am very good at keeping myself constructively busy, but I’m not exactly what “they” would call a “contributing member of society” (whatever that is).
I actually enjoy work.
Mostly because I generally only accept jobs that I enjoy.
And because I take on roles where I am being challenged and educated while I work.
At the moment I practice English conversation online with students scattered around the world.
(Check out Cambly if you’d like to sign up for some extra pocket cash – no degree or certification necessary)
I’ve spent the last few months writing the soon to be released book, First We Ate Your Wife.
And I now work at a surf shop where, after the last lockdown, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to see real-life humans without a screen in-between!
I always earn enough for survival and I normally put some aside for future adventures…
I like to survive.
I love to eat.
Adventure is always worthwhile!
But when did work become our lives?
When did we start being defined by our jobs?
I have spent much time debating this with Cambly students and I’m curious about your thoughts.
Where do we draw the line in a healthy work-life balance?