Commodification of The Self

I spent a good part of today doing three job applications. Two were fairly straightforward, tweak my CV and write and punchy cover letters. The third one required four statements. They addressed the job specifications; particular skills applicable to the job;, why did I want to work there; and what from my leisure, volunteer or membership based activities would be valuable experience related to the job. These took all afternoon, fiddling with words, which normally I enjoy, to a strict limit.

Needless to say I was exhausted when I finished and immediately finished my cup of tea and fled the house for an hour to take a walk to clear my head and refocus my eyes and mind.

During my break for lunch as I was dowsing my scrambled eggs in lime pickle and chopping the cabbage and tomatoes for my salad I thought about the whole process of applying for jobs. I have been doing it now for over 18 months. It occurred to me the implications of selling yourself in your application, CV and cover letter, during your interview. I’ve had five of the latter and  umpteen of the former.

All of a sudden it felt quite odious, the entire notion of making myself into a commodity. I grew up with a father who was a brilliant artist who could have made a mint in the art scene in New York City, where the taught and studied at the League. Instead, after his dramatic conversion to Christianity, he decided he could not ‘prostitute’ his art to make money. Rather when I was four he packed us up and moved us back to Indiana near where he was brought up and his mother and most of his siblings still lived. We did not have an easy time, but but he stayed true to his principles and we managed. In an instant today, I really understood some of what he was getting at by refusing to play the game and selling out.

I do not think that getting a job is selling out my beliefs or principles, but the process of selling myself I am struggling with. It’s not that I don’t interview well, because in most cases I do. But it’s the notion that I’m not only the product, but the ad agency that is difficult. It somehow feels dehumanising to objectify the self, alright myself, in such a way. It puts me on the same level and the tin of cat food on the counter or the washing up liquid on the corner of the kitchen sink. Of course I seldom by brands that are advertised, but I am subjected to the ad campaigns on the television, in magazines and by mail shots. Sending out applications, CVs and cover letters I saw as an ad campaign for product me. All of a sudden I am a direct participant in a process I find basically manipulative and false.

It’s hard enough dealing with trying to find a job that provides the finance to live on and allows you to live. This other bit is an overlay that whilst taken for granted and put out as a good and necessary thing in all the job seeking advice, might not be so good after all. At least not for the soulself. My CVs, cover letters and application statements highlight what I do, but not who I am. I am more than what those documents reduce me to and reinforce what society values. And for the most part a lot of what modern society, or maybe more appropriately what contemporary culture, values is not what I value: excessive consumption; greed; build in obsolescence; a blatant disregard for the future in an effort to make the most profit for the least number of people.

All part of the game right now though. A game I’m forced to grit my teeth and play, as almost all of us are. It’s also why it’s so important for me to go outside, to walk in the fields and on the footpaths around the village. Doing these things provides an opportunity to be real. To listen to the gods, ancestors and feel the Spirits of the Land, to seek connection and communion with them. To be reminded I am not what I do. I am what I feel, perceive, see and sense through my physical and spiritual beingness. I am  how I love and respect those around me, human and other than human. I am not a commodity. I am the intention I live into reality and manifestation. I am a presence in the world manifested at a particular time with a destiny to discern and fulfill.

With a bit of luck I will find a job that allows me to do just that. At least that is what I hope. That is what others and I pray for me.

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4 thoughts on “Commodification of The Self

  1. What you say is very true, the process is difficult. It may be that the job which is right for you may be more pleasant to apply for, perhaps proving to be a vocation more than just a money earner.

  2. Horrible isn’t it? I guess it’s not so bad when you’re selling your real skills for a vocation you want. But when you’re trying to pretend you want a job you don’t really want but need to make money…

    Did you hear some people have been told their benefits will be stopped if they don’t take theri degree off their CV as it stops them getting menial jobs?

    All very demoralising.

    • Yes, I agree if you are selling real skills and it’s truly vocationally orientated.

      How ironic being made to take a degree or two off your CV, since there is the huge push to get people to have them now. And, if you left them off of an application you would not be able to sign the declaration that what you’ve said is true, at least from my perspective.

      It is demoralising. But we live in a consumer and commodity culture.

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