When Franklin Pierce was running for president, he called upon the services of longtime friend and famed Scarlet Letter author Nathaniel Hawthorne to write his biography. Hawthorne did just that and when Pierce ended up becoming the commander-in-chief, he decided to hook Natty H. up with a sinecure in the U.K. working for the U.S. Consul.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term “sinecure” it’s defined as such: “A position requiring little or no work but giving the holder status or financial benefit.”
Hawthorne, who already demonstrated a dedication to developing his writing craft, took advantage of his sinecure. Since he didn’t have to worry about earning a steady paycheck because he had a gig that didn’t really require all that much work, he could spend the majority of his day focused on more writing.
In a viral post uploaded to Reddit’s r/antiwork sub, they ask: “Is it normal to have absolutely nothing to do in an office job?” The social media user goes on to say that at just 25 years old, they’ve been hired in their second position in a “hybrid” capacity. They go on to say that they only have around “2 hours of actual work to do per day,” but don’t delineate what they do with the rest of their day. They then went on to ask other users on the platform if they have similar experiences.
Their post prompted a litany of different reactions from redditors. One commenter said that the amount of work they’re expected to accomplish can vary from day to day, but that the majority of the time they can simply finish all of their tasks in just a few hours: “Sometimes it can be super busy. But most of the time all my tasks can be done in just a few hours. I also work an ‘office job’ and I spend a lot of my time finding things to do and making my spreadsheets look pretty.”
However, there were some people who suggested that @DogVillager simply take longer to get their work done as the only “reward” they receive for completing their work is just… well… more work: “This… also take longer than necessary to accomplish these tasks, as you are in no rush and it isn’t that complicated. Remember: hard work gets rewarded with more work”
Another person said that they used to have so little work to do at one job they wished they could go underneath their desk and just go to sleep: “I get my sh*t done, then I’m done. I used to dream about taking a nap under my desk at work.”
However, it did seem like there were some folks who took the same direction as Nathaniel Hawthorne: “Last time I had an office job, I learned to write fanfic. Since I was always typing, people assumed I was ‘busy’. Probably spent a good 85% of my day doing ‘nothing.'”
While there were numerous folks who talked about the soul-crushing nature of performing office tasks, there was one redditor who said that they would rather work in an office than go back to hard labor any day of the week: “Yay! I’ve had crappy crappy work you till you feel like dying jobs with no downtime. I’d love a boring office job where I can make colorful spreadsheets and charts. Instead of backbreaking factory work or sporadic part time work that I have to spend my own money driving everywhere to different sites only to not get much work cause no one shows.”
And another person said that the only real downer of working an office job is being stuck inside of a dismal work space for hours on end: “The real soul crusher is actually being in the office. Stuck in a grey cube, with nothing but fluorescent lighting illuminating your pale skin like the soulless ghost you are. Overhearing your neighbor argue with the DMV or have to listen to your coworker’s latest family issue that you didn’t ask about. Not to mention your bosses walking past your cube to make sure you’re ‘busy’, like it’s a f*cking middle school social studies class…Getting a remote office job is definitely the move. You can slack off from the comfort of your own place.”
It’s easy to view this Reddit thread as part of a larger conversation on the nature of how work is evolving and how our species’ time could be dedicated to carrying out certain tasks that could, in many cases, be farmed out to artificial intelligence and then fine-tuned with a human touch/mind.
But what would this mean for the distribution of resources as a result? Will companies then just use artificial intelligence and then relegate human employees to customer service positions, negating the higher salaries usually associated with skilled work that could now be completed, for the most part, by software?
There are some who argue that the advent of artificial intelligence only strengthens the case for Universal Basic Income, i.e. using portions of tax dollars and money generated/collected by the government to hand out stipends to citizens that they can then spend on whatever they like.
Of course, there are a number of prominent politicians who are already engaging in their own versions of Universal Basic Income for themselves due to all of the financial scandals they’ve been involved in, but if our species has reached a point where throngs of different jobs have become obsolete, why are we still following an “hourly” model?
On the flip side, if someone is only working around 2-3 hours a day for one job, then what’s to say that they shouldn’t try and secure themselves multiple work from home jobs in order to generate even more income for themselves? There are plenty of people online who’ve bragged about their simultaneous hustles and the fiscal benefits they’re enjoying for doing so.
It would seem that @dogvillager has a few choices to make: They could try and get themselves another remote position that would allow them to take on extra work during this time and bolster their savings, or if there’s a dream they’ve always had: Whether it’s becoming a great writer, or they want to research a particular topic they found super interesting, or heck, if they’ve wanted to learn another language or pick up an instrument—whatever it is, it appears that they’ve got plenty of time during the day to do so.
Or they could just do nothing and fiddle around the internet until it’s time to clock out.
The Daily Dot has reached out to @dogvillager via Reddit DM for further comment.