Are You SUPERFLUOUS?

Analogue Boy

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#61
Well that hasn’t helped at all. The admission that I consider myself superfluous is also considered superfluous to the discussion. To ask whether someone feels superfluous is to invite a whole spectrum of feelings and emotions however you originally framed the question.
 

brownmane

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#63
I may have the totally wrong idea of superfluousness, but I was reminded of the novel "A Prayer for Owen Meaney" by John Irving. It is one of my favourite novels.

Owen Meaney is a boy who believes that he is an instrument of God. He does not see his own life as his. He believes that anything that occurs around him happens because he is a catalyst and nothing more. So to him, he is superfluous to himself, but without him, others cannot achieve their destinies
 

INT21

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#66
I may have the totally wrong idea of superfluousness, but I was reminded of the novel "A Prayer for Owen Meaney" by John Irving. It is one of my favourite novels.

Owen Meaney is a boy who believes that he is an instrument of God. He does not see his own life as his. He believes that anything that occurs around him happens because he is a catalyst and nothing more. So to him, he is superfluous to himself, but without him, others cannot achieve their destinies

Sounds like some suicide bombers creed to me.
 

EnolaGaia

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#67
... It's like being the guy in a musical chairs game who finds himself standing up and all the other chairs taken. ...
I can see how it's "like" in terms of end effect, but I'm not sure whether you mean to imply anything beyond that ...

This isn't just a metaphorical quibble - it might help shed some light on the subject as you would like it to be discussed ...

The persons left standing at the end of each round of musical chairs are "losers" in terms of the game being played. If the number of chairs equals the number of players, the game cannot be played (or at least makes no sense).

The nature of the game itself mandates that there will be one or more potential "losers" (superfluous players) at the beginning of each valid round. Phrased another way ... The game is rigged to ensure there are superfluous people along the way from start to finish.

At the beginning of each round, no individual player is assured of being "superfluous" when the music stops and everyone scrambles to sit. The "superfluous" one isn't identified until the end.

Naturally, any player can cheat to ensure he / she can leave the game at the end of the current round.

Do you mean for the discussion to focus on those who are accidentally / incidentally made "superfluous", those who are deliberately "superfluous", or both?

Beyond this specific little point ... Do you intend for the discussion to serve as an entry point to discussing the nature or rules of the game(s) (broadly construed) that render someone "superfluous" in a given context?
 

EnolaGaia

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#69
Perhaps one could add the phenomena of automation into this somewhere.
Yes ... We humans have progressively invented and adopted automata (broadly defined) that render certain skills, knowledge, and even people "superfluous" in one or another operational context. This is most obvious in the case of proliferating industrial applications of robotics (e.g., on assembly lines).

There's long been a debate over how many humans actually get displaced by such robotic capabilities. Some argue that the loss of manual jobs is at least partially offset by the gains in jobs relating to designing, building, and maintaining the robots themselves. While this is a valid point, it's usually touted without providing any clues concerning what's supposed to become of people qualified for the manual tasks taken over by robots but not qualified (and extremely challenged to become qualified) to work with or on robots.

The result is increasing the distances between rungs on the social / economic ladder(s) - both by obsoleting previously marketable skill sets and by making it too difficult or expensive to acquire new higher-level skill sets.

AI has long threatened white collar / professional decision-making tasks just as robots have threatened skilled manual tasks. AI can similarly displace skilled workers - typically workers previously performing jobs at even higher levels of reward (income; benefits; etc.) that are in turn even more difficult to re-attain via adaptive strategies such as retraining or shifting into another field or line of employment.
 

Victory

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#70
I'm going to defer comment on the individualistic theme for now and focus on a clarification.


He was simultaneously dispensable / replaceable as a civil servant in the workaday world and breaking through as a notably promising theoretical physicist on the side.
I did not know that about Einstein.
It is fascinating..and inspiring.
Thanks for posting.
 

Krepostnoi

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#71
Well, that'sreally the standard Marxist interpretation isn't it?
Sure, but that isn't necessarily a refutation in and of itself.
Sure, the fact that these writers came from upper class backgrounds gave them the time and werewithal to write and then get their stuff published. It doesn't follow, however that everything they wrote is only a mouthpiece for class priviledge. They made observations that applied to humanity as a whole.
Ok, some of them did. Many of their peers just boozed, hunted and womanised* themselves to an early death. Of course, we'll never know now what insights the serfs may have had to offer, will we?

* The rest of their time they just wasted...
 

INT21

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#73
There seems to be at least two important aspects to this 'being superfluous'.

The first is that it really does have to be accepted by people that in the future, starting now, there will probably be no need for very many to follow the traditional 40 Hrs a week work ethic that many of us were brought up to consider normal. Accepting this should not be too much of a struggle.

But the second point is much more tricky.

Many people are not psychologically adapted to having to make their own decisions concerning how they are going to fill the hours. They essentially 'need' the work regime to maintain stability.
All those who have retired from 50 odd years of work will be cognisent of the strange feeling for the first few days (weeks ?) of not following the old routine. And we all know how the current unemployed who have never worked or spent time in, say, serious study over a prolonged period, have turned out.

And it appears that the Devil does indeed make work for idle hands.

I foresee things getting quite nasty out there in the not too distant future.

INT21.
 

EnolaGaia

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#75
... Many people are not psychologically adapted to having to make their own decisions concerning how they are going to fill the hours. They essentially 'need' the work regime to maintain stability.
All those who have retired from 50 odd years of work will be cognisent of the strange feeling for the first few days (weeks ?) of not following the old routine. And we all know how the current unemployed who have never worked or spent time in, say, serious study over a prolonged period, have turned out. ...
I spent some years as a claims representative with the US Social Security Administration, during which time:

- I interviewed prospective, new, and ongoing retirees daily
- I had access to our service area's death reports that had to be filed with our office by law

This allowed me to form some pretty coherent, though admittedly informal, impressions about retirement and how it affected people. Here are the main impressions distilled from this experience ...

The folks who were most stressed over retirement were always the ones who'd essentially done one and only one thing (farming; factory work; etc.) during their entire working lives. Some of them explicitly dreaded retirement, and some were frankly drifting into retirement in a sort of shell-shocked daze. The same effect was noticeable, and even more obvious, with stay-at-home spouses (overwhelmingly wives / mothers / widows). The more severe cases were frankly nothing short of soul-crushing existential angst.

This same lifelong single-career motif was the most common characteristic shared by retirees who died within 1 - 3 years of stopping work and / or reported major family / personal problems (divorce, etc.).

These effects were most evident with folks whose working lives had involved lesser-skilled jobs (e.g., blue collar / farm basic labor). It affected more skilled workers (e.g., white collar office types) as well, but not as dramatically. My hypothesis was that a possibly higher education level and skills that didn't rely so much on physical health and strength helped to explain this difference.

This motif was also the most common context in which retirees reported stresses, disruptions, and even fighting within their households. After years of operating around the schedule and needs of the particular household breadwinner(s) the household members had to adapt to retirement as much or more than the retiree him- / herself. These household disruptions (as one would suspect) most often involved spouses having to adapt to the new state of affairs now that one or both of them were no longer going to work every day of the work week. In some cases, individuals and couples openly admitted they were having problems suddenly finding themselves spending lots of time with a person they didn't know as well as they'd thought.

Among these (lifelong; single-career) folks, the ones who had the most positive attitude about retiring (both before and during retirement) seemed to be the ones who had other activities into which they could invest their time (volunteer work; church; family; hobbies). These were the ones most likely to survive for years following retirement.

On a less firm / more ephemeral note ... It always seemed to me the folks who had the most problems adapting to independent living in retirement were the ones who (broadly stated) had lived their lives drifting with the ordinary or default flow. By this I mean doing what was most probable, accepted, and / or expected in their social / economic context - e.g., finish the mandatory school years, get a job, get married (with or without kids), stay in the same place / area, etc., etc. These were the folks who'd essentially never taken a chance, tried new things, or otherwise put out effort beyond just getting by on an everyday basis.
 

INT21

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#76
That pretty much matches with the way I see it. I I would add one further consideration. Most of the people you describe would have been 'the old folk' , people who went through the thirties to the sixties, then retired. Their lives were by default more regimented and they did not have the opportunities to get about as have the generation(s) that followed.

so, if old Fred, who used to spend an hour or so in the evenings with his garden or his pigeons, suddenly finds himself under his wife's feet all day, he will find it very depressing.
It shows how people from the mills and similar jobs really existed as two people living in the same house for the sake of convention as much as anything else. A mutual security that is, apparently, not valued as highly these days.
 

EnolaGaia

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#77
That pretty much matches with the way I see it. I I would add one further consideration. Most of the people you describe would have been 'the old folk' , people who went through the thirties to the sixties, then retired. Their lives were by default more regimented and they did not have the opportunities to get about as have the generation(s) that followed. ...
That's a fair assessment, though the ones with whom I dealt (in that job) were born as early as 191X and lived through both the Great Depression and WW2. In addition, my job experience was in a relatively rural area in the American south. My clients were among the least mobile Americans of their generation, even though they'd reached adulthood in time to avail themselves of the Postwar mobility boom if they'd been so inclined.

In the environment in which I worked the regimentation was more socio-cultural than economic, though the high proportion of farmers imposed a sort of family-and-land constraint analogous to being locked into working for a single employer in a "company town."
 

EnolaGaia

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#78
... It shows how people from the mills and similar jobs really existed as two people living in the same house for the sake of convention as much as anything else. A mutual security that is, apparently, not valued as highly these days.
I've seen a similar effect in my own (Baby Boomer) generation, but it's often distinct owing to the women's movement from homemaking into the daily workforce. A number of couples I've known for decades have run into issues and problems settling into a joint retired life at home after many years of semi-independently pursuing separate careers. Some of them seem to have had more trouble negotiating the new lifestyle than older couples whose lives had been defined by the older breadwinner / homemaker model.

Phrased another way ... I've seen cases where the mutual security of the working years was based on parallel working lives whose retirement era aftermaths didn't mesh well at all.
 

EnolaGaia

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#80
... t really does have to be accepted by people that in the future, starting now, there will probably be no need for very many to follow the traditional 40 Hrs a week work ethic that many of us were brought up to consider normal. Accepting this should not be too much of a struggle. ...
Many people are not psychologically adapted to having to make their own decisions concerning how they are going to fill the hours. They essentially 'need' the work regime to maintain stability. ...
(I'm switching gears and shifting to a different thematic angle ... )

These two points are interconnected when it comes to adopting and experiencing novel / non-traditional work formats. I know this very well from my own experience.

Especially for folks (myself included) who ended up being "knowledge workers", escape from the 9-to-5 / in-person work style has been increasingly feasible for a couple of decades now.

I was a full-time 9-to-5 professional in my last (both most recent and probably final) work setting for circa 7 years. After this initial phase had passed I'd become privileged to operate mainly as an internal consultant charged with exploring new things, critically analyzing them, and writing extensive reports. I was further privileged to be authorized (on the employer's / clients' own motion) to work from home prior to turning age 49, and shortly thereafter I was designated a full-time telecommuter. My working life (to date) has continued for another two decades without the stresses and frenzies associated with having to be somewhere specific at any specific time day after day.

That's the good news / bright side ...

The bad news / dark side of the situation lay in the fact I had to accept responsibility for managing my time, communications, and infrequent personal "appearances" so as to deliver on my assignments as planned / expected. Sometimes this was easy, because I was "into" my work - i.e., it was "my game", and I loved playing it.* At other times it was grueling, when (e.g.) I had to pull consecutive all-nighters to generate a massive report or meet some deadline for solving a problem.

* The fact this entailed production / creation of results others attributed or conceded to me personally relates to the "individuality" theme Victory mentioned in post #39. These results were radically attributable to me, in that they concerned a brand-name mode of design praxis the client organization claimed I invented and advertised as an new wave innovation, but which multiple university research teams and a PhD apprentice ended up attributing to my personal "knacks" after studying me and my practices for months at a time.

Some colleagues and other acquaintances (all professional-tier workers) were similarly accorded telecommuter / remote work styles during these same two decades, but not all of them thrived like I did. The ones that stumbled - most of whom reverted to a more conventional work style - either (a) admitted they had problems maintaining an effective rate of progress when left on their own and / or (b) simply weren't motivated by the work / tasks like I was (i.e., it wasn't "their game"). The ones that were successful and happy with the more independent work style tended to be the more senior professionals with longer histories of responsible work habits and a deeper interest in the subject matter.
 
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INT21

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#81
The above shows how difficult it can be for people who's work can readily be adapted to home working.

But the majority of 'superfluous' people in the future will firstly probably not even entered the job market in any form, or will be from occupations that required them to be in some specific place. machine operators etc. Or even truck or train drivers who will gradually be replaced by automation.

So let us assume that we have a very large number of people who are going to move straight from school to, well, to what ?

The vision of thousands of unmotivated youths wandering the streets bored out of their brains is not a comforting one.

Just look around our estates to get the picture.

INT21.
 

Shady

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#82
I wonder if there will still be care homes
 

INT21

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#83
Maybe time to reintroduce conscription. either into the forces, or some kind of labour force.

Or will it be the 'Logan's Run' solution ?

Or, let it be whispered, 'Soylent Green'.
 

Mythopoeika

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#84
I wonder if there will still be care homes
Probably not. Not enough people care about anything these days.
The young nurses in Wexham park were more interested in their blinkin' mobile phones than helping the patients when I visited my Mum at the weekend. They have no dedication.
 

Analogue Boy

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#85
I had a thought about care homes.
There’s clearly a shortage of available, affordable housing for young people.
Old people need more proper care homes. Why not build more care homes, not farms, proper communities. Old people move into care homes. The fee is paid by the person’s old home being controlled by the council. The council takes rent from the house which pays for the accommodation of the Old Folk.
 

Analogue Boy

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#86
Maybe time to reintroduce conscription. either into the forces, or some kind of labour force.

Or will it be the 'Logan's Run' solution ?

Or, let it be whispered, 'Soylent Green'.
The subject of conscription was raised on LBC the other day. Our forces are highly professional and rely on mutual trust within the ranks. Diluting that by putting any old member of the public in there will demoralise our forces and will be a slippery slope as far as their reputation is concerned.
 

INT21

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#87
I have to agree completely.

But maybe something similar can be devised. I hesitate to suggest the forming of conscription cannon fodder brigades simply to get the numbers down.
 

Shady

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#88
Probably not. Not enough people care about anything these days.
The young nurses in Wexham park were more interested in their blinkin' mobile phones than helping the patients when I visited my Mum at the weekend. They have no dedication.
You need to report that to management, they are not allowed them on the floor, they have stopped the use in ours, and if it continues they will take all the phones away when they enter the building, it is highly unprofessional
 

Analogue Boy

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#89
I have to agree completely.

But maybe something similar can be devised. I hesitate to suggest the forming of conscription cannon fodder brigades simply to get the numbers down.
I have thought some humanitarian work like providing wells and water for villages in africa would make some kids appreciate their Nando’s a bit more.
 
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