Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Problem is Right in Front of Your Face

Training to be a waitress 

I had been considering writing a piece about EliteDaily, a popular nonsense website made up of predominately American Narcissists under the age of 30. Similar to ThoughtCatalog. Rather than write that I went another way instead. 

The main observation was going to focus on the fact that EliteDaily doesn’t pay any of its writers. Yet each ‘writer’ churns out 4 to 5 posts a month, and lets EliteDaily soak in the benefits/clicks/revenue. For reference, EliteDaily seems to post 70+ pieces day.  With no compensation, why would anyone write for it?

Even more bizarrely their main competitor, ThoughtCatalog, has even written a post about why you should write for ThoughtCatalog instead. I had trouble focusing on its insanity, but their argument seems to be “We won’t pay you either, but we’re nicer about it!” I think? Maybe you’ll have better luck deciphering it. This piece on EliteDaily’s history is worth a look too. 

But really, this psychological problem of working for free on the internet is already covered over at TheLastPscyhiatrist in Alone’s last ever post.  So why rehash it?

Instead I was struck by a random piece by a young lady on EliteDaily titled The Foolproof Way To Orgasm: Stop Sleeping With Douchebags(spoiler alert it has nothing to do with orgasms. I know, I was disappointed too.) - Like nearly every post on the site it’s not actually a helpful how-to guide (as the title implies), but it instead reads like a journal entry; an overly personal live-journal post for those who remember live journal.

The young lady author (who you can find on Linkedin if you’re so inclined) rants about some douchebag she used to have relations with, and then congratulates herself because she claims she is no longer perusing douche-y guys. I’m not convinced, but more power to her.  
Why am I not convinced? Despite insulting her former flame as a “narcissist”, “self-serving”, “manipulative” and “psychopath” she also calls him her “counterpart” - her words.  Huh.

The most interesting part of her post was a throwaway line that I doubt struck her as odd or important. The start of her ‘how I met the douche’ story is this line:
“Immediately following my college graduation, I accepted a position as head hostess of a local chain restaurant.”
And there you have it folks. Again, you can find her Linkedin page.

Could it be, perhaps, that her confusion and supposed inability to ‘get-off’ has nothing to do with her mate selection, and everything to do with her personal ambivalence about existence?

Her 5 years of college education lead her to a job that does not require a college degree, let alone a high school degree?  Why did she get the degree in the first place? Not only does she likely not know the answer to this question, but it wouldn't even occur to her to ask the question.  

Could all of her problems stem from that issue? That lack of direction and lack of ability to make useful steps toward improving oneself?  That inability to plan for the future? Or even plan for the now? Her career decision making skills are still clearly very poor, she’s spending time writing for EliteDaily for no compensation. Brilliant! Ergo, what value does she place on herself and her time? $0.00

Honey, the problem isn't your douche boyfriends, the problem is you.


  1. Some restaurant jobs require a degree (even at Waffle House -- any BA/BS), but that's usually for management. I know degreed men who got into waitering for various reasons, including the gamble of getting tips, but typically he thinks he'll just work his way up. Worked out for one guy -- if working 80 hours a week at WaHo for ~50k is your idea of blessing, but some of the guys who do IT in shitty locations have it no better, they just worked harder for the privilege to get there because their degrees are BSes, not BAs, and they also had to have ~4 years of exp as opposed to 1.

    That said. Most people don't ask for waiting jobs (unless they're the gambling addicts hoping to get a tip jackpot). They went to school to be teachers, or some other nice, safe, unambitious job that their parents told them a girl like them had a chance at, instead of shooting the moon. But then they graduated and found that their respective higher education institutions had lied to them about the current demand for teachers, business whatevers, nurses, scientists, etc. No one in their small town is currently hiring for that job. Nor will they likely ever, because a virtuous cycle of brain drain has started, as anyone who didn't set out to just be a nice girl who didn't upset the patriarchs can see that with no jobs and no money, things aren't exactly going to get better. They stuck their fingers in the wind and went where it carried the money -- usually wherever all those internet tubes lead back to, saying goodbye to their alternately shitty or cool parents -- whatever worked for inspiring them to leave town, leaving the mediocre Matts behind.

    What is one of the nice girls to do, now that she is a nice woman who should support her parents like a good daughter? Waitress at WaHo. Look for a job online, work from home when she doesn't have a shift. Marry Matt. This website has been waiting for the truly desperate and hopeless, just like her. Or maybe she's the gambling type after all, gambling that her unique perspective will work out into a writing career, based on writing for such paragons as EliteDaily.

    One thing that I've noticed in my short time of talking to people about labor issues: some people come from those rare (but sizable) affluent and booming cities where presumably, a person of modest means grows up safe in the knowledge that he can have any job he wants. This is where the brains drain to, and he has a native advantage. When he thinks about women's rights, he thinks of how his wife works at A and it's only 30% women and they have 10% of management roles, not realizing what a life saver this company is to refugees from the Heartlands, where companies are routinely about 1% women and expect them to bring in cookies and do the dishes because they should feel so privileged to be there, a man could've had that job. His city erects buildings in the shape of those sacred symbols that brought them this unprecedented wealth and prosperity, the Angle Brackets. And he asks things like, why would someone choose to have a bad job? He believes in literal magic, because he thinks things like, "I'd like to have my own company," and angels begin courting him, asking if they can fund it. Meanwhile, his cousin in the Heartland is having a breakdown because he knows everyone and networked and chose a CS degree just for the money, and there isn't any.
    It's kind of hard to talk to both of these guys about the labor market, because neither believes it.

  2. Smile - Your idea that EliteDaily's business plan is/was simply to wait for the listless college-degree-but-no-job Life rejects is probably accurate. And depressing. But hey- nobody is making her write for EliteDaily, that's her own poor choices.

    I disagree with blaming the Higher Ed institutions for 'letting' kids get degrees that will lead nowhere. The kids need to take responsibility for their own decisions. IE - kids should ask themselves "Are there job openings for X? - If no, then I should not get a degree in X." - If they don't ask, that's nobody's fault but their own.

  3. I re-read my comment to see if I came off as blaming them, as that certainly wasn't my intention. I said that they lied. It may be more accurate to say that they willfully misrepresent statistics to trick mediocre & working-class students into filling up departments that only exist for the benefit of elite or exceptionally-gifted students. Also, to be a prestigious "university" and not just a "college," they have to offer full complements of courses in a variety of subjects, and all accredited degrees require that students take a sequence of courses not in their degree, whether or not it's relevant to that student's interests. It's antiquated and comes from a time when college was for doctors and lawyers and preachers, not for code monkeys and restaurant managers, and they were expected to graduate knowing Latin, etc. It certainly isn't relevant to our world where the Internet is an extension of everyone's brain in the First World, and great socialists like Finland and Bill Gates are working to change this by asking that our subject-based educational system be reassessed in favor of something that kids will actually use in the information-economy world.

    How are schools being deceptive? By telling kids and parents things like their earnings will be x amount greater if they get any degree, and even better than that if they get a PhD. Those that have any misplaced respect for academia are led to believe that they may one day join it with their "useless" degree even if there's no other use for it, which is possible if they either are children of Harvard alumni going to Harvard, or are willing to put up with years of underpaid work at the university of Butthole, Alaska. Either way, they have to be something of an independently-wealthy elite. This goes for every subject from physics to metaphysics, although there's slightly more demand for the -engineering professors because of the lower- to middle-class students who think their "useful" degree will necessarily lead to a job (it doesn't).

    Also, a lot of people have probably seen The Social Network and heard that bit about how Ivy Leaguers make their own job. In that case, the degree was merely for the experience, or decorous, I suppose, and so why not study the philosophy of science-fiction narrative?

    So, on that topic: I don't actually believe that there are useless degrees. These degrees are useful to *some* students, just not all the ones who are making the program possible by getting them.

    Something I was going to write in my last comment, but I ran out of characters (maybe I should just do a blog):

    I have a job that I could've gotten out of middle school -- because I knew how to program back then. My degree is mostly decorous and was attained because I was a minor and didn't have any say in the matter of being sent off to school, and once there, it was practically free and I was too stubborn to quit, so why not? Having a background in lib arts helps me talk to the kids of the affluent, though, because they're going to study philosophy at Big U and then hire me to make their art game. At least I'm invited to the release party. Whenever anybody looks at the useless degrees and asks why they exist -- well, that's one reason.

    If I was to blame anyone for a kid getting a degree, it would be the adult parents for being ignorant of how the world works. Schools have psychologists, and they know that children under 25 are unlikely to be operating at their full mental capacity because their brains and bodies are still maturing. It's a prisoner's dilemma -- parents fear being the only ones whose children didn't get a degree.

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