On The Future of Labor (Day 5 of 30)

This is part five of a thirty day trial, during which I am going to write and publish a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!

What I love about film is that it combines physical work with mental/emotional work.
What I love about film — how it combines physical work with mental/emotional work. What I don’t love about it — how accurately the typical production (and general industry culture) often reflects American inequality.

Today is that day that was invariably going to come along, in regards to this project of posting here every day for the month on September. I’m not sure what to write about.

This make me slightly sad, because it’s Labor Day.

Am I glad to have a day off? Yes.

Am I proud to be an American worker? In a way, yes.

Do I celebrate the contributions of laborers more active and resilient than me? Yes.

Is one day enough, to make up for decades-long general trends that have made life more difficult for laborers, more complicated, even as those at the very top have continued to do very well for themselves?

No, I don’t think it is.

We live in strange times. It’s no secret that I’ve wondered at length about them, about what’s next, about where we’re headed, what it will look like. I think this is why I’ve gravitated back to science fiction, where I started as a young avid content consumer (reader).

What does a robotic future look like for labor? Likely, not great. Is anything going to stop automation from replacing manual work, in the real, tactile world? I don’t think so.

Given the choice, would we completely want to stop this from happening? I think that depends on who you are, and how you make a living.

Where is the line between accepting change and demanding your fair due, based on contributions of the past — that built the foundations of today? Do we still even respect legacy in this way?

I know the world is always changing, but it seems to be changing quickly, now.

Some of this change seems inevitable and, perhaps, ultimately helpful. Some of it seems short-sighted, greedy, or at least of the sort that could be checked, slowed, made to respect the potential or very real damage it can and does cause to human life and happiness at large.

I’m a knowledge worker, and a content creator, in today’s parlance. On the one hand, I am soothed by the fact that mine is a specialized skill-set. We’ll always need stories, and I’m a storyteller. I even believe I could be of use in the zombie apocalypse. Anyone who has survived past hour twelve on a film shoot would be of service in the zombie apocalypse.

But I do worry about these things, as I wonder about them.

I worry that there’s no turning back, or checking the rush of the tide of technological change, this time — if there ever was a way to do either of these things. I worry that as technology cheapens everything, we’re headed towards decay and dysfunction for the majority, in service of growth and ascension for the minority — of the increasingly other-worldly wealthy elite.

Labor Day is not meant, I don’t think, to be a day of remembrance. It’s supposed to celebrate the contributions of labor to our prosperity both then and now. This is still, of course, a worthy use of our time.

But I believe our workers, myself among them, deserve more. We deserve ongoing respect, both for what we do and what we endure, what we’ve done, and how those contributions have laid (continue to lay) the groundwork for future growth and prosperity.

A well-deserved day off is a good opportunity to rest. It can also be a good time to not only appreciate ourselves and our peers, but also to take some time to reflect.

We are all of us essentially equal — so says our social contract. I think it’s acceptable, if not crucial, that we not only celebrate labor’s role in securing today’s prosperity as well as tomorrow’s, but also question our role in that tomorrow, and how that role is influenced, diminished, or manipulated by those in control of both our livelihoods and our news.

Whether we like it or not, we may also have to think how we might both accept this reality and yet challenge its assumptions (and ours).

Change doesn’t only happen. We can also enact it. That’s the beautiful thing about working towards the future. We’ll never get there, but we can look back after a while and see where all the chasing after it has gotten us.

I guess I found something to write about.

Day 1: Struggles and Wonders and Dying in  Chair

Day 2: Fear, Panic, Identity and Anti-Focus

Day 3: Purple Sky of Towering Clouds Over a Far-off City

Day 4: Circle Up and Laugh

michaeldibiasio

Writer and Filmmaker

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *