Awaiting the grim reaper or how students perceive the future work life
Creating contents for Get a Life! simulation has certainly been an enlightening ride. Sharing thoughts with people of different backgrounds helps to widen the scope of one’s own thinking. Sometimes our ideas have been challenged so hard that we have had to go back to the founding questions of our project: What are we actually trying to simulate and to what extent?
Work life and one’s personal life cannot be distinguished from each other. They are closely intertwined and one’s performance in the working world often reflects the state of the personal life. So should we therefore strive to simulate all aspects of life? After all, our tool already boasts some 900 events and is a very ambitious attempt at exploring future development. However, this would entail formidable challenges for the content creation process as we do our best not to moralize the user’s choices. In this respect events of the personal life are volatile grounds that one would rather not explore in too much detail.
Besides the discussion concerning the division between work/personal life, we have also made another somewhat startling observation. Students, who have created contents for the simulation tool often seem to share a very grim vision of the future work life. In this vision even temporary unemployment is often regarded as a disastrous event that initiates the life’s downward spiral towards poverty and overall misery.
Furthermore, the working world is often seen as an especially ruthless place where the ones with the sharpest elbows come on top. Being successful and advancing in one’s career is often seen as a result of a tradeoff between a wholesome, happy life and professional success that comes with a big price tag.
Many people see the future quite daunting and forget the many perks that the future is likely to bring. This might be the case with the aforementioned students, or could it be that it is just a case of fear of the work life? I.e. fear of something that they still have fairly little first-hand experience? If they have to rely on others’ testimonies, you cannot really blame them. After all, if you spend a moment listening to your colleagues or anyone else with a job, you are bound to hear a lot of complaining about how all job-related things are getting worse or how pointless bureaucracy is increasing exponentially.
We fail to understand that those stories have a potentially huge impact on the listeners’ vision of the future work life and might therefore prove to be even discouraging for the young audience. Perhaps we should paint a more realistic picture of our average workdays. Busy? Yep! Many projects at the same time? Sure, often. Discouraged by the working world? No, because this is actually fun. Don’t be afraid to try and find out yourself. After a while the future of work life may not seem so daunting anymore.