“Do what you love” sounds like a great mantra. But, in an important essay, Miya Tokumitsu argues that the problems with “do what you love” extend beyond the privilege embedded in the idea that it’s possible for everyone to do that or the erasure of people for whom survival requires doing things they don’t love:
By keeping us focused on ourselves and our individual happiness, DWYL distracts us from the working conditions of others while validating our own choices and relieving us from obligations to all who labor, whether or not they love it. It is the secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation, but an act of self-love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace. […]Ironically, DWYL reinforces exploitation even within the so-called lovable professions where off-the-clock, underpaid, or unpaid labor is the new norm: reporters required to do the work of their laid-off photographers, publicists expected to Pin and Tweet on weekends, the 46 ?percent of the workforce expected to check their work email on sick days. Nothing makes exploitation go down easier than convincing workers that they are doing what they love.
The whole thing is worth a read—even if, like me, you do love what you do.
This article was originally printed on the Daily Kos on January 25, 2014. Reprinted with permission.
About the Author: Laura Clawson is the labor editor at the Daily Kos.