I’ve just read your book Escape Everything! I don’t want to blow smoke up your arse or anything but I think it’s changed my life. I feel like I’ve been handed the golden ticket to the Chocolate Factory, and therefore, I thought I better write a thank you letter to Willy Wonka.
I’ll tell you why I enjoyed it so much. I’m approaching 30 years old, and at my last count (just now) I’ve had 30 different jobs, moved to different parts of the UK searching for something but not exactly knowing what. I’ve been on pills for anxiety and depression and all the time struggling to explain to my peers and family what is wrong. Embarrassed. I’ve had most jobs you can imagine and hated every single one of them. I’ve done undergraduate and graduate degrees and saddled myself with huge amounts of debt in search of a better job (utopia).
I’ve quit most of them or made some lame excuse about them and even lied about being sacked in a few of them, and at times even got myself sacked on purpose.
I joined [a government agency] last year and finally thought I’d do a proper job, until the pointless paperwork, double standards, and general negativity all day got the better of me. All to the amazement, amusement and astonishment of my peers and family.
For years I’ve been walking sheepishly around the self-help section in Waterstones and my local library, trying to find something to help me fill the void, make sense of the world, all with limited success. I’ve watched countless YouTube videos and TED Talks all imparting some trite, American, positive-thinking, right-wing drivel.
It wasn’t until I read your book that I started to think there might be other people in the world who share the same thoughts and aspirations as me and are actually serious about walking the talk. Of course, if you ask most people they hate their jobs but they just get on with it because that’s just what you do, should do, or what society, family and friends expect you to do.
It’s a funny, well-written and comforting book, which has given me clarity for the first time in my adult life.
I don’t believe I’ve had depression and anxiety all this time: I’ve had work depression and I’m sick of it. This new perspective is going to see me make some difficult decisions that will probably let everyone conclude that I’ve definitely lost my marbles. I simply don’t want to work for another 30-40 years for the man, for 40 hours a week with people I can’t stand, just to be bullied in to buying some shite that I don’t need. I’m looking to dedicate my life to the cause of blissful, minimalist idleness and I’d like to help others do the same.
Thanks for writing the book and I wish you all the best for the future,
Should we resign ourselves to a bleak future of work devouring even our old age? Surely we should start planning for a world where we work less, rather than more […] As we work less, our lives become our own.
From a nice comment piece by Owen Jones in the Guardian. He cites some of our favourites–Keynes, Srnicek & Williams (not New Escapologist though, never New Escapologist)–and has lots of angry-making statistics and projections about overwork and the new pensionable age in the UK.
Owen Jones is one of the more outspoken left-wing columnists in the UK. As a lefty myself I’m sometimes asked if work reduction isn’t at odds with Socialism. While it’s true that Socialism seems obsessed with work (job creation, better working conditions) and that reducing the need for labour might look like a right-wing austerity measure, it’s worth remembering that work reduction is a classic demand of the left. Agitating for a shorter work week is a tenet of Marxism (Marx saw capitalism as an alienating force), and every extant worker liberty (weekends, maternity leave, paid holiday, sick leave) is the result of a long and devoted labour movement.