Thursday, February 7, 2008

I just wanted to order that life...

Having had a conversation revolving around this topic recently, I feel it's time I asked the opinion of others as well. Where does one draw the line between embellishing a story for added entertainment value and blatantly telling falsities in the place of any amusing anecdotes in your dull life?

I've been an embarrassed witness, more times than I care to admit, to friends publicly recanting charming stories of their previous night/week/month/year's adventures and slipping in more than one fabrication of events to up the ante. I, as a bystander often aware of the complete truth, usually find this an awkward and uncomfortable situation with which to contend. But at least in most of these cases, the general story being told is on the mark factually and there is only a peppering of fiction tossed in for flair. And I guess this I can tolerate, if not condone. However, I've noticed recently that several friends of mine are veering into the slightly more nefarious area of out-and-out lying. For instance, when someone asks an individual they've just met what it is they do for a living, the tendency is to big up the cool things one does on the side (ie - band/photography/art/fashion/writing/modeling etc.) and play down the real way they make the majority of their cash (ie - working in an otherwise rather dull and soulless job). This I fully agree with, why not show the best sides of yourself? Let them in on the truth once you know their worth it.

However, lately I've been witness to people completely making things up. Rather than simply bigging up the interesting facets of their working lives, people are now completely fabricating jobs and lifestyles based on what they wish they were doing. So if someone thinks they should be a film-maker but has so far done very little/nothing about this, they are simply pretending otherwise. Telling new people they meet, "Yeah, I'm working on a film at the moment, as well as writing a few scripts and producing some work for other people. It's tough, but I think the way things are going I should really be getting somewhere within a couple years. I'm doing some music videos as well...". This is not simply a stretch, this is completely false. They are basically describing their dream to someone else, but playing it off as reality.
What's most interesting though, is that I often get the feeling that the only reason people want these supposed "cool jobs" is not because they feel they'd excel in such fields, or that they are particularly talented, but simply so that they can tell other people what their job is.
It's like that scene in Swingers when he orders the Glenlivet scotch drink in the casino, and then later quietly admits he didn't even want it, he just wanted to order it. I wonder how many people I know are gonna hit 40, find themselves still fighting to get in on the creative/art/media scene and then realize that they didn't really want that job anyways, they just wanted the business card to pass out.
A lot of jobs that sound really "cool" are actually quite boring and filled with obsessives who have no life outside of that profession. It can be quite depressing when you meet people whom you think will be just like you, but who in actual fact are like 30% of you exploited and enlarged into 1 person. It's disconcerting, disheartening and it does force you to question your motives.
There's no shame in working in an office, making a decent wage. And anyone that tells you otherwise is either A.) Stuck in a job they despise, probably retail, the only respite of which is telling themselves it's somehow better than "working in some nameless corporate box" or B.) under 21 and still living the "I could never do that office, 9-5 shit maaaan" dream*.

Perhaps people should be more confident within themselves; perhaps they should question what it is about their lifestyle they are so ashamed about; perhaps they should stop lying about what they wish they were doing and either start doing it or at least admit to themselves why they are not; or perhaps most importantly, people should simply surround themselves with failures.

In the company of the middle-aged and unemployed, a job as line manager at the local Starbucks at age 29 doesn't seem so bad...

*Which, interestingly, I never had. From a young age I saw nothing wrong with working in a comfortable chair at a nice desk making money. I always really enjoyed school as well. Maybe these two go hand in hand with each other. Sitting at a desk seems to suit me fine.

1 comment:

Coleslaw with a C said...

i couldn't agree more. what is wrong with a "normal" job? i for one am not ashamed that photography jobs (at the moment) are few and far between and therefore need the extra money to live, so therefore have to "slum" it and serve people popcorn.
i mean, who doesn't slip in a white lie here and there? but when it comes to a lie that is a lot bigger than the truth and one that can easily be found out... man, so gay! esp if i am friends with the person and i know what they do for a living!