Transcending the Rat Race
The great resignation, the tyranny of freedom, & escaping competition
The great resignation has freed some of us back into shackles.
Our culture likes escapism: First, we quit our jobs to escape from offices. Then, we make our own jobs to escape from freedom. We leave one cage only to find ourselves in another, some completely made by our own hands. Under the compulsion of performance and production, freedom is impossible. The solopreneur who quits his job to work for himself becomes the controller of his productivity, tyrannizing himself through optimization. Solopreneurship is not enough; those unable to break free from competition remain trapped in the pursuit of this thing called freedom.
We can ditch our managers, offices, or professions, but any horizontal leap will only land us on another treadmill. Resignation does not liberate us from the rat race. The ultimate escape—transcendence—is vertical, not horizontal. Otherwise, our individuality will be used for anything but our own good.
I was part of the workplace exodus
I was working at a consulting firm this time last year. I remember a colleague saying to me (at happy hour), If you think about it, our job is like modern slavery. With a little bit of deconstruction, abstraction, and smugness, it’s not hard to understand why new graduates feel this way—after all, life’s purpose must lie outside of providing value to shareholders.
Job quitters tend to have a Moses complex: they feel the need to free their people from corporate pharaohs by convincing them to ‘leave the matrix’ and that the pathless desert path is better than the nine-to-five because there is nothing better than having the freedom to do whatever one wants. Create content. Start a podcast. Build an email list. The land flowing with milk and honey is found somewhere on the Internet. I was once a job-quitting Moses. Now, one year later, I can confidently tell you that I was terribly wrong about many things.