Fears of civilization-wide idleness are based too much on the downsides of being unemployed in a society premised on the concept of employment.
People have speculated for centuries about a future without work, and today is no different, with academics, writers, and activists once again warning that technology is replacing human workers.
…Without jobs to give their lives meaning, people will simply become lazy and depressed…
Such visions are based on the downsides of being unemployed in a society built on the concept of employment.
Plus, in many modern-day societies, unemployment can also be downright boring. American towns and cities aren’t really built for lots of free time…
Work-free societies are more than just a thought experiment—they’ve existed throughout human history. Consider hunter-gatherers, who have no bosses, paychecks, or eight-hour workdays.
There were no managers or overseers, so they would switch fluidly between working, taking breaks, joining in neighborhood games, playing pranks, and spending time with family and friends.
With workers’ old outlets for play having disappeared in a haze of factory smoke, many of them turned to new, more urban ones. Bars became a refuge where tired workers drank and watched live shows with singing and dancing.
In general, without work, Gray thinks people would be more likely to pursue their passions, get involved in the arts, and visit friends. Perhaps leisure would cease to be about unwinding after a period of hard work, and would instead become a more colorful, varied thing. “We wouldn’t have to be as self-oriented as we think we have to be now,” he says. “I believe we would become more human.”