One of the most pervasive pieces of advice in articles on how to be “successful” is to put aside hobbies in favour of extra graft on your job or a side-hustle. However, I’ve noticed another similar suggestion cropping up that suggests “success” listicles might be more sinister than a simple misunderstanding that money is a tool not a goal: seeking isolation from contentious influences.
Publishing is a business, so I like to glance at the odd article aimed at SMEs who want to grow. Among these, I sometimes encounter the hustler’s listicle (otherwise known as 10 steps to make your life entirely about work). The underlying premise seems, at first glance, sound: if you find a little bit of extra time every day and cut out some distraction, it all adds up to a chunk of progress that you wouldn’t otherwise have. And I completely agree with the theory that spending more productive time on something means you get better, have more stock to offer, gain better insights into the market, &c.
However, I find the un-nuanced, one-size-fits-all evangelism of the listicles troubling. Extra time is good. But cutting out all your hobbies and some of your sleep because time not spent hustling is wasted misses one possible purpose of life: experiencing and enjoying it. Some people want to be really rich enough that the profits of side hustling are potentially more enjoyable than many other things. But, having worked a well-paid job with anti-social hours for a while, I know that making money I have no time to spend is less pleasant for me than making less money but having free time.
Which I considered another example of how some people like to reduce the world to binaries and others prefer a nuance set of things over many axes. Until this morning, when I noticed a darker underlying trend to the listicles: active rejection of a broader perspective. Two suggestions that come up almost as often as cutting back on “unproductive” hobbies are cutting out friends who don’t share your focus and cutting out social media (except of course your focused social media branding); two ideas that, again, seem initially to be logical ways to move time from diffuse being to focused doing. But this morning, before dismissing an article as just another paean to constant hustling, I spotted a rather more worrying sentence. The article suggested not consuming any news; but, instead of the usual pitch that focused merely on the time saved, it pointed out that news wasn’t something you needed to study because your broker or financial advisor would pay attention to impact it had on you.
How much more Illuminati can you get? A direct statement that people shouldn’t pay attention to the news; that they should instead leave the consideration of science, law, economics, and all other human endeavour (except side hustling) to the financial sector. Writers whose claim to authority is that they are supposedly rich are telling people not to pay attention to the news because it gets in the way of working more.
Do I actually think the authors of these entrepreneurial articles are witting propagandists for a secret government of the ultra-wealthy? No. But capitalism is at its heart the injunction to focus on money not other matters, so – even if the Illuminati aren’t using Twitter as a sigil-engine – belief in this secular god is no less powerful if the god isn’t real.
To discover the best method to combat this trend, read my article 10 Reasons Why a Cup of Coffee is Better for You than Kafkaesque Torture.