on the question:” what do you do?”19 Jul 2016
what do you do?
“what do you do?” this question is like an invasive weed. it’s everywhere and SO annoying. after asking for someone’s name, it’s usually one of the first questions that gets asked.
the question bothers me because it shows just how much we (middle-class americans) identify ourselves by our work. your job and social value are indicated by what you do to earn money. the worst part is that the question isn’t as explicit as that, but everyone knows what it means. it actually has lots of potential as a broader question. and yet, i can count on two hands the number of times someone has answered that question without telling me what they do to earn money.
although i don’t think identifying strongly with work as our primary identity has ever been a good idea (#industrialcapitalism), as our economy evolves, i think we absolutely have to get away from this pattern.
so, i’m developing alternatives to this question.
i think i’ll build a tool for it (probably something like this). in the meantime, here are some of my favorites.
- what’s your favorite way to spend time these days?
- if you had one more hour to live, what would you do?
- what are you dreaming about these days?
- what’s your story? [this question comes in 5, 10, 20, and entire-evening varieties]
- if you had to die tomorrow, how would you choose to go and why?
- are you a sprinter or marathoner? [this one came from a recent piece i wrote]
in general, i hate shallow conversation and small talk. so these questions are an attempt to get beyond those things. life is short. go deep or go home.