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Americans Abandon ‘What Do You Do?’





So many Americans are either self-employed, unemployed or working at insecure jobs they hate, that the perennial question many would previously pose to strangers of ‘What do you do?’ is becoming obsolete, the Observer reported this week.


Noting how 42 million of Americans are nowadays self-employed freelancers with countless millions more older Americans forced into compulsory ‘retirement’, alongside a vast cohort living paycheck to paycheck, the article suggested a seismic cultural shift is spreading throughout the States.


“People in their 20s and 30s are starting to give up on work as a primary way to center or ground their identity,” said sociologist Dr Jennifer Silva who conducted a study on the issue. “You can’t define yourself by work when you don’t know if you’re going to be employed.” 


Hugely influential US commentator and Pulitzer Prize winning author Hedrick Smith, author of ‘Who Stole the American Dream?’ agreed.


People are beginning to ask: what’s the point of work?” he said, “What’s the point of trying to get ahead when even those who are working hard are falling behind?” 


The article coincided with a cogent analysis of why young Americans no longer fight back against inequality and unfairness by clinical psychologist Bruce E. Levine, who suggested crippling student loan debts, legal drugs administered for made-up ailments such as ‘’oppositional defiant disorder’ and TV (defined as a ‘television set, a laptop/personal computer, and a cell phone’ are key factors.


“TV isolates people so they are not joining together to create resistance to authorities; and regardless of the programming, TV viewers’ brainwaves slow down, transforming them closer to a hypnotic state that makes it difficult to think critically,” he wrote in an article published by Alternet. 


“The mere act of watching TV—regardless of the programming—is the primary pacifying agent (private-enterprise prisons have recognized that providing inmates with cable television can be a more economical method to keep them quiet and subdued than it would be to hire more guards)”, he added.



Bruce E. Levine: Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite.


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