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Importance and Luxury -- Bias of Prestige in Work

Updated: Feb 23

An empire

Rethinking Importance and Luxury in Job Choices

Although some may equate value with luxury in the realm of professional pursuits, it's crucial to remember that importance and luxury don't always reside in the same job position. A job deemed vital to society may lack the financial rewards or societal prestige associated with glamorous professions, and conversely, a luxurious job isn't inherently more significant than one considered "lesser." This distinction becomes even more subtle when we acknowledge the subjective nature of luxury, fluctuating across eras and cultures.

It is why by the way it was quite hard for me to pen an article about the 5 most unproductive jobs in the world. Ironically, some of them had to do with content creation.

When contemplating one's career path, it's essential to delve deeper than mere financial gain, for it is not the only element of a job. Do you aspire to contribute meaningfully to the world, regardless of external applause? Or perhaps fulfilling societal needs and the quiet satisfaction of knowing you're essential, is what drives drives your choices? Ultimately, the choice between striving for impactful work and prioritizing recognition and comfort lies within you.

Revaluing the Bedrock of Society

Ironically, the jobs deemed fundamental to human existence often occupy the lower rungs of the perceived social ladder. Consider the farmer, the backbone of any civilization before the industrial revolution. Without their tireless efforts, even the loftiest figures face the specter of hunger, over the hedonism of appetite.

As Napoleon Bonaparte observed:

"An army marches on its stomach".

This highlights the undeniable importance of seemingly unglamorous professions like farming. While the farmer may not earn prestige in society, the knowledge that they directly sustain their community offers a deeper satisfaction than mere material accumulation. Perhaps that knowledge can be realized more, through mindfulness.

This same principle applies to any profession directly addressing basic human needs like water, shelter, and security. Yet, these very roles, essential for societal functioning, often evoke less public admiration than professions draped in the glitz of luxury. This biased perception, fueled by the allure of prestige and comfort, blinds us to the inherent value of these unsung heroes. The same heroes which retain the very infrastructure of our collective lives.

And yet it is actors who are adored far more, for pretending to be people they are not, encouraging escapism as a way to handle our problems, and protect ourselves from them in submission.

Let us move beyond the superficial allure of luxury, and reevaluate the true worth of professions. Whether you dedicate yourself to the quiet dignity of providing the vital necessities of life, or aim to create a change in the world, remember that significance and fulfillment transcend financial or societal rewards.

Choose your path with a clear understanding of your own desires, valuing both the impact you strive to make and the personal satisfaction you seek. For it is in this alignment that you will find true professional fulfillment. And with this knowledge of yourself you can have a greater freedom in deciding what you want to become in ways that might suit you as realistically as possible.

Rethinking Value in a Society of Spectacle

In events like the Eurovision competition, a spectacle of song and stagecraft, once again ignited a debate that transcends mere entertainment. While singers dedicate months to training and crafting their performances for fleeting moments in the spotlight, the unsung heroes who fuel society's engines often toil in obscurity, their contributions undervalued and underappreciated, and their they may be easily deemed irrelevant depite their contribution. This obvious contrast exposes a fundamental question: In our world of dazzling distractions, how do we truly measure value?

It's easy to get swept up in the glamour of the public performances. The captivating melodies, the electrifying choreography, the excitement expressed in a herd-mentality fashion – it's a potent cocktail of entertainment that captivates millions for two dazzling nights. Yet, compared to the quiet dedication of the baker who kneads bread every dawn or the sanitation worker who keeps our streets clean, mere entertainment's impact pales in comparison.

The song may resonate with a nation's cultural spirit, and music has its own deeper virtue. However, in an age of overflowing content, its fleeting existence seems small next to the basic necessities that sustain us. Why even waste money on going to concerts when you can listen to music in your own home? That is known as the same result problem.

This irony – the inverse relationship between societal impact and societal reward – lies at the heart of our "luxury bias." We crave recognition, prestige, the intoxicating allure of fame and fortune. This yearning blinds us to the true worth of those who quietly keep the world spinning, the farmers who nourish our bodies, the technicians who maintain the intricate web of technology, the teachers who shape future generations.

It's not that entertainment lacks value. In its own way, it provides solace, sparks joy, and offers a shared cultural experience. But it is important to recognize its limitations. Actors, singers these "giants" of entertainment industries, while enriching our lives, are just entertainers. Beyond their ability to convey fiction of whatever depth and create an unnecessary dependence on comfort, they often command exorbitant rewards for their fleeting contributions.

This skewed perception begins in childhood. The question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" becomes a potent marker of societal aspirations. The aspiring football player gains applause and admiration, while the dream of becoming a farmer or a sanitation worker is met with muted expectations, despite the fact that the farmer provides food and the worker prevents much suffering caused by disease.

We internalize this hierarchy of value, prioritizing the glamorous and desirable over the essential and unglamorous. It is no surprise that such a priority has hallmarked a new age of work where content creation is far more common, and even admired, than far more essential positions in society.

We devolved into narcissistic cultures that focus on the self far more than what that self can offer others. Then, many of us would whine of loneliness in an age where it is far more common to put the ego first and morality below, if at all.

But is it truly more important to kick a ball into a net than to ensure the food security of a nation? Is the existential inquiry of a philosopher less valuable than the adrenaline rush of a sporting victory? These are questions we must confront, challenging the narratives that elevate the dazzling spectacle over the quiet toil that sustains us.

This is not a call to dismiss the arts or the pursuit of dreams, but rather a plea for a more balanced perspective.

Despite serving food for the hungry or allowing cleaner environments from ill and disease, many of us would become forgotten, deemed irrelevant, and can mainly retain back our worth in society through whatever means of validation. I used to do so myself until I realized that I prefer to be useful to others than to myself. Older Philosocom visitors may remember the days where I was more personal, and some critics even called me a narcissist. I felt bad for it, I admit.

However, today I am more mysterious because I realized that my work matters more than myself. And power is there as a means for greater efficency, not for a theoratical hole that cannot be fulfilled.

Ultimately, a society that values the essential worker as highly as the entertainer, that celebrates the quiet hero alongside the dazzling star, is a society that truly thrives. It can do so to itself by motivating people to resume being in these jobs and understanding their essential worth within them, whether or not they will be replaced by A.I.

It is a society that recognizes the interconnectedness of its members, where every contribution, however humble, is valued for its role in the symphony of human existence. We really should criticize the competitive mindset.

Seeking True Value in a World of Distractions

My journey with this website stems from a youthful dream of combating the necessary evil of shallowness. It was originally a yearning to create more value that would resonate with the world. 

Yet, as I matured, a profound question arose: In an age of digital spectacle, where movies, video games, and countless forms of electronic media bombard us with artistic brilliance, what truly constitutes valuable contribution?

While the transformative power of art remains undeniable, I've come to realize that its impact often resides within the realm of appreciation, a fleeting brush with the aesthetic rather than a fundamental pillar of societal well-being. A captivating painting may evoke awe for a moment, but does it truly contribute to the edifice of human existence in the same way as a farmer who nourishes the nation or a sanitation worker who safeguards public health?

It is not to say that artists, athletes, or entertainers lack worth. Their contributions to the tapestry of human experience are vital, offering solace, joy, and a shared sense of wonder. But their value should not overshadow the immense, often unseen contributions of those who ensure the very functioning of our world.

The choice of profession remains a personal one, guided by individual aspirations and priorities. As a society, we should strive for a more balanced perspective on value. Let us acknowledge the inherent worth in every honest endeavor, regardless of its visibility or acclaim. We must distinguish the acclaim from the true functionality of positions in our communities and organizations.

As such, we should respect everyone merely for being able to contribute to society, and/or doing what it takes to survive and not remain a klumnik/deadbeat.

Valuing the essential alongside the entertaining, the unseen alongside the spectacular, we build a society that thrives not on transient applause, but on the solid foundation of mutual respect and appreciation for the diverse contributions that make our world a richer, more meaningful place.

And any contribution is better than no contribution at all. Even if it is merely for the sake of survival, which is essential as of itself. As by helping each other, we can also help ourselves, justifying moral egotism alongside altruism.

Perhaps it is the end, the product, that matters, than the morality that leads to its production. Or in other words, the work being done or the service being made, than whatever we may think or feel about it individually or collectively (AKA post-truth).

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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