Privilege

Without a doubt, Megan Gray has written the best industry-related thing I've read this week. She titles it, Get Over Yourself, and it's a good and proper takedown on the entitlement and complete lack of appreciation many of us have for what we are privileged to do every day. The whole thing needs to be read; it's like one big money quote. But here is at least one part:

I’ve never paid out more or been simultaneously more dissatisfied with the output of other contractors (some, not all) than right now, in this entitled, inflated landscape. You know what undercuts our industry more than low rates and spec work? High rates and a bad experience. Inflated cost and a failure to deliver on time / respond promptly / be kind / kick ass.

Everyone wants you to know you’re special, worth more, aren’t charging enough. And I guess I just want to tell you to stop being a stupid freelancer, and get over yourself. With love, I mean. Because I really do love you. I really want to work with you, and make cool things together.

While I don't directly hire people that often, I talk to many people who do, and the horror stories are constant, even amongst some of the most reputable folks in our industry. The default service quality (not just in web) in my experience in life has been “meh” leaning toward “poor”. It is a true delight to ever get great service.

I agree with Megan that I think some of that is truly generational, and my generation (I'm 30) is just as guilty as the ones younger than me. At this point, allow me to warn you I'm about to go off into left field:


I have been thinking a lot lately about the privileges we have — generally as earth dwellers — in this time in history. I realize that's a radical shift from Megan's post, but hey, that's what I've been thinking about!

I can't find the source right now, but I recently read how human quality of life shifts massively over time, as technology constantly advances. If I recall it correctly, our quality of life has likely doubled just in the last 50 years or so.

And if you go back farther (sometimes much farther) it's far more drastic. A Planet Money episode on the history of light (and challenges and costs making it) shows just how difficult it was, and how our economies and overall quality of life generally followed a similar pattern to the advancement of light.

Or if you consider mattresses — random I know — an episode of Surprisingly Awesome reminded me how prior to about a hundred years ago, pretty much everyone slept on hay — at best. Now I can easily pick from thousands of different affordable mattresses that will envelope me in comfort for hours on end.

One of my favorite people to consider when thinking about the quality of life of a particular time is George Washington and his famously awful teeth. “Despite all his attempts to save his remaining teeth, Washington was down to just one tooth at the time of his inauguration as the first President of the United States.” By the way, his creepy doctor saved that last tooth and wore it as a memento once it came out. George Washington was incredibly rich, and the most powerful man in a new world, and his teeth caused him constant pain his whole life.

Work has gotten easier and easier over time. The mere concept of a 40 hour week is only a hundred years old. For ages people worked far, far more. The move from manual labor to office work has been drastic in developed countries. Needless to say, our time for leisure is at an all time high — yet we still (very much me included) — still manage to complain about the need to work.

The world is not a fair place and the situations I describe are not universal, but even amongst the worst treated people in the world, technology has improved the quality of life.

Many of us live better in this age than royalty and rulers lived in centuries past. We may not have as much land or livestock, but our overall quality of life is quite possibly better than some of the richest people in history.

If this weird post and rambling account hasn't driven the point home enough: we are incredibly privileged. And to Megan's point (I apologize to Megan for going off on this weird tangent from her thoughtful post), we probably need to grow up a little bit and get our jobs done and done well. Because we're living the dream.

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