Monday, July 03, 2006


In Praise Of Slackers

There's always been a belief afoot in American society in the redemptive power of doing nothing. Playing hookey is rugged individualism in repose, and represents free will and unfettered thought in its fullest flower. Think of Henry David Thoreau, Bartleby The Scrivener, Bart Simpson... Why slave away endlessly under the thumb of The Man if all your obedience can offer you is the straightjacket of regimentation and the indignity of the whip on your back? While the idea that blue collar workers should have some relief from unceasing toil has been with us for a century, the white collar classes are still expected to be relentless - as if, ha-ha, we actually have a stake in what we are doing. After all, isn't our lifelong gig in the sweatshop of free enterprise supposed to be our "career", and don't we all just "love what we do"? Some think not, and more power to them if they can get away with it. According to Tom Lutz, the author of Doing Nothing, Americans have always been ambivalent about working; workaholism and the slacker ethic exist in eternal equipoise. "The stronger the work ethic," he concludes, "the more vibrant the slacker culture." If I didn't have to worry about money, I'd quit too, believe me. The prospect of dropping out of the corporate treadmill becomes more and more appealing as the longterm benefits of "staying the course" - such as pensions, promotions, and the just rewards of experience - disappear at lightning speed. For all you anti-Walter Mittys out there, contemplating the serene non-adventure of blissful inactivity, here are some links you may find interesting.

"In America, many work hard - but some prefer not to" from the Philadelphia Inquirer
Doing Nothing : A History of Loafers, Loungers, Slackers, and Bums in America by Tom Lutz at

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