Blog /The Greater Good

April 23, 2006 20:46 +0000  |  Employment Society & Culture Why I'm Here 5

I've been thinking about my job a lot lately. I think it's because I'm beginning to feel too comfortable.

This is how I figure it works (bear with me here).

There are a wide array of, for lack of a better term, Bad Jobs in the world. These jobs are Bad in the sense that they not only provide no real benefit to the world, but often, they work against the Common Good.

Some brazen examples of this include Shell Oil, Sony, Microsoft, or Nestle etc. All "Bad" companies in the sense that they hurt society and/or the planet in the pursuit of profit, but in truth, the majority of companies in the world are not so much in the business of Doing Good, as they are in that of making making money.

I've become more at odds with this whole concept because of what I've been doing in my off hours. From 10 - 6 I work for an online advertising company, but lately I've been spending a lot of my energies helping out with the Toronto Public Space Committee, an organisation which, at it's core, stands for the concept that Public Space is for the public, and not for the advertisers. In other words, I work for the enemy by day, and by night, I moonlight as someone who gives a damn.

Now this post is not meant to start an argument about the virtues of advertising. No one is ever going to convince me that a 10-metre high ipod billboard is "good for society" -- it's not, end of story. No, this is about something one of my teachers back at VFS told me: "Now you know everything I can teach you about web development" he said, "Use your powers for Good, not Evil".

What am I doing?

More and more I feel as though my involvement with the TPSC has less to do with the fact that I want to help, and more to do with me trying to somehow offset the work I'm doing during the day.

The world does not need more ads telling us to buy things we don't need. The world needs more faith, fewer guns, patience, and an honest attempt at slowing down. Can I honestly say that I contribute to any of these things in my forty hours each week?

But this all comes back to Good jobs and Bad Jobs. The world has an abundance of vacancies in Bad jobs because the majority of people in the world want to do Right and will often jump at the chance of supporting people doing Good Things. What's worse, the more detrimental to the world a company is, the more money it tends to have and so they can afford to hire more people. All this makes it very hard to find Good Work.

I need to start looking for a Good job. I just got another raise, and here I am, complaining about my job... I guess that means that there's still hope for me.


23 Apr 2006, 11:05 p.m.  | 

Take 'em down from the inside. ;)

24 Apr 2006, 12:48 a.m.  | 

it sounds like you're trying to maintain a balance. good guy evenings, so-called bad guy during the day. actually you're not even that bad because you're the office geek - you could have been the office SALES (no offense to marcus or your other buddies b/c they cool) but yeah... that'd be worse right? so basically you chose the lesser of the evils. (shouldn't this post be protected?)

aside from being all good, you need to eat right? and survive. so yes you have a job you think is dishonourable to your credit but it allows you the freedom to pursue your other goals (earth friendly ones) and it gives you money to survive another day. sounds kinda like you dislike the hand that feeds you.

24 Apr 2006, 12:58 a.m.  | 

Um, that's the point. I do hate the hand that feeds me. The problem with the world is that so many of us are working to help the Bad Things happen, that when we try to Do Right, we're up against an impossible wall of opposition... Put there by us and people like us.

I can't call it "balanced" if I'm working 10hours a week for Good things and 40 for my current employer, and besides, "balance" shouldn't be what I'm aspiring to. With balance, the world doesn't get better, it just stays they way it is.

And I don't see the need to protect this post as my coworkers (a) don't really read this blog, and (b) already know how I feel about advertising. They also know that if I were to ever leave them, as cool as they've been to me, I'd never leave them in a bad position.

25 Apr 2006, 1:49 p.m.  | 

OK, there is a part of me that wants to tell you - you have a good full-time permanent job - quit your bitching.

There is the other part that says - yes we don't need more advertising - but I am unwilling to pay the full price for stuff that wasn't subsidized by the advertising (you think movies are expensive NOW)

and finally - my biggest issue with the TPSC is that there are SO many other ventures that need improving before we worry about web banners on the internet! Really which is more important - subsidized access to information - or getting rid of a banner that could inform people of a product or service that they are actually looking for information on.... BTW the world does NOT need 10ft billboards and such, and i agree that they ruin my visual (how did Mcguinty put it) landscape more than a wind turbine. But you do not work for the enemy, you work because you need the income to pursue your goals and dreams (Noreen gave a great arguement already)

just my slightly bitter $0.02

25 Apr 2006, 4:09 p.m.  | 

You're missing the point, and I'm afraid that it must be my fault for not explaining myself properly.

Ads don't "inform". If they did, they wouldn't be a problem. They "sell", which is considerably different. Ipod banners, Car billboards and shampoo ad pillars do not "inform" the public at all. They sell the idea that you can be happy/cool/sexy if you buy their stuff. In other words, they sell lies and we let them because they reduce the cost of a service by a fractional amount.

Of course the real social and environmental cost of advertising is never evaluated because the people selling the space (the city) never have to pay it personally.

When you step back from it all and look at the world, you see two opposing forces at work: one that has the best interests of the planet and society in mind, and the other that is driven by self-interest/profit. You can take a guess as to which side is winning.

Whether I'm working for an online ad firm propagating banner ads or for Pattison filling our streets with ads, or worse, running Chevron's webservers, I'm still helping the "side" that is in direct opposition to my conscience. Advertising is just a cog in a much larger machine that is working toward something I fight against in my "off hours"... It's as if I've split myself unevenly in two, the larger half pushing against the smaller half and the better part of me is sliding backwards.

If I thought advertising was Good for people, I wouldn't be in this position, but it's not and hence my predicament.

As an aside, don't kid yourself, before ads and ad-placement infiltrated movies, they were still retardedly expensive... in fact, media consolidation and monopoly has lead to even higher prices for movies. While the few monolithic groups claim they need the advertising revenue to "keep prices down" the fact is that they know that they have a captive audience with no alternatives and we'll watch whatever they feed us.

Lastly, the TPSC doesn't touch banner ads. They are, after all, the "Toronto" Public Space Committee. They focus primarily on local stuff like the giganimous iPod banners, ad-pillars, and anti-postering bylaws etc. The fact though that I am aiding an industry tightly affiliated with a group they oppose is what started all this though.

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