We survive in an economy that is built on bullshit. I think about real estate agents. Bullshitters. What do they actually do? Nothing. I renovated my bathroom and broke my back doing it, so remind me again why these people think they are justified in taking 2.5% of the total sale price of my home? Just because the agent put a bouquet of flowers out, which someone else arranged? Sure. I enjoyed the lousy bottle of wine you sent me as a thank you for the thousands you skimmed off the top. I made sure to chill it first.
I won’t mention politicians, because they are just old-fashioned bullshitters. I’m talking about modern age, à la mode bullshitters. The Economist magazine, in the article “On bullshit jobs” cites an essay written by David Graeber, an anthropologist, who discusses work in the modern economy. I was so inspired by this article and my recent experience that I thought I would blog about it.
Next on my list of big time bullshitters are employment recruiters.
In my recent experience, a recruiter called me to tell me that the company I applied to was looking for someone like me, and then said I didn’t have the experience the company was looking for, all in the same sentence. It’s like he said to me, “we are desperate for people! But you need to beg for this job because you need to justify your skills to me even though I don’t understand anything about what it is that you’ve outlined your resume…now beg…and get down and give me 20!”. I thought, this person must have Borderline Personality Disorder. Not only did this recruiter put me off immediately with his pathetic social skills, but he wasn’t even capable of communicating with me throughout the recruiting process.
I had to, in fact, be the one to actually ask him where my second interview was going to be located, and with which company representatives I would be interviewing. I guess he just assumed I would somehow instinctively know these details, after flying halfway across the country to an unfamiliar city. In fact, when I arrived to the office that day, I found out I was in the wrong office for the interview and that I had to go to the other office, because the recruiter gave me the wrong address information.
About a month later, following the interview, the recruiter still didn’t get in touch with me to let me know what was happening in the hiring process. I had to ask him. His only job — to send e-mails or make phone calls; to be a go-between for the company and its prospective employees, was done poorly. He doesn’t actually have to have any specialist skills whatsoever and even then, he was still incapable of doing his bullshit job properly. Even if I’m given a job offer, do I want to work there? Not really.
By the way, what is a management consultant anyway? Just what is that? What about pyramid schemers?
More or less though, companies exist as gigantic pyramid schemes anyway. I’ve devised a test: print your company organization chart. Draw lines around all the names listed on the company’s organizational chart. Ask yourself: Did I make a triangle shape? Then ask, is my name even on the org chart or am I such an unworthy tiny minion that my name is not even published? In this case, it’s what I like to call a super-duper pyramid where you are so insignificant that you are actually extra-pyramidal.
There are lousy, incompetent people in every profession you can think of. Don’t assume because one is a lawyer (likely bullshitter), doctor (potential quack), or senior university professor (possible PhD student slave driver with no recognizable research skills) that competence comes with the title. I think the majority of professionals are trying to do the right thing, but it is better to be skeptical and allow a professional to earn your trust and money. I’m not fooled by letters after a name. I knew a guy in university who, from what I heard from multiple people, lied and cheated his entire way through university and I believe now he is a practicing medical doctor.
But now, we have a whole slew of ill-qualified bullshitters, with little knowledge or skills, making a buck in the bullshit economy. Yet, we are so limited as a society that we don’t fund, I don’t know, say, important scientific research, since all the money is being used up by the bullshitters doing their bullshit work.
There is hope, though. I have coped in this world by honing my bullshit radar. You could do the same. The better you get, the more bullshit ‘blips’ you’ll get on your screen, so you’ll be prepared for the bullshit that is fired your direction. This way, you can say, “Do not bullshit a bullshitter” with confidence. Then you can sell your house yourself and find your own (I won’t say it) job, maybe even start your own (I won’t say it again) company.