Going Out

CULTURE: Get a real job — And a second one and a third one … Exploring the changing economy and the new ways of working

By Fateema Sayani

THE FACEBOOK NEWS FEED has been rather dismal of late. Cat pictures, self-promotion, and gripes about the daily mundane have given way to postings from government employees who recently received notice that their jobs will be axed. In response, the keeners have been e-networking, while the deeply afflicted post cryptic one-liners about their bleak futures. Their pals chime in appropriately with sad faces.

The thing about these cutbacks — part of the government’s Deficit Reduction Action Plan (let’s call it The Drap, to give it a fittingly abject and infectious tone) — is that even if you’re not a government employee, you’re affected. And not simply because of the interconnectedness of the local economy, but because everyone knows someone who’s employed by the feds. Can’t swing a dead cat … and all that.

Illustration by Kyle Brownrigg.

In the short-term aftermath of job losses, those who have been cut loose worry about losing the house and the lifestyle before eventually getting active and finding — or making — new work. But though the prospect of starting anew can be terrifying to the risk-averse, forced innovation is not all bad. It gives rise to entrepreneurialism. Loosen the golden handcuffs and alternative and underground economies spring up — those informal modes of business that the punditry predicts will outpace traditional jobs in the next decade.

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