*Here’s the link for those interested! The hosts discuss my ideas afterwards and for some reason bring up China, universal rights, and “things will just get done” wishful thinking from the anti-work movement but the other two co-hosts pushed back against that, thankfully.
Thanks again to Ryan Wrecker of KMOX for reaching out!
I was provided this copy in advance by Dr. Price themself and as such my page citations may differ from your own. As well, any errors in quotes or differences from your copy of the book should be seen as my own error or due to my different version and not the fault of Dr. Price, thanks!
In preparing for this book review I dedicated myself to reading for an hour while also taking notes. There were multiple sessions of reading where I either went over this hour, shamed myself for not pushing myself harder when I didn’t do that, or otherwise thought I wasn’t doing enough.
Originally, this book review was supposed to debut in early January, but due to my constant daily schedule of meditating, exercise and preparing for the two D&D sessions that I dungeon master every week, I often made underwhelming weekly progress towards this review.
It was frustrating and I felt like I was letting Dr. Price down for not having the review out sooner and my audience who I hadn’t written anything for in a long time, not to mention my few loyal patrons who are still donating money to me on a monthly basis.
If it’s not clear already: I am not immune from The Laziness Lie, as Dr. Price calls it:
Deep down I’m lazy and worthless.
I must work incredibly hard, all the time, to overcome my inner laziness.
My worth is earned through my productivity.
Work is the center of life.
Anyone who isn’t accomplished and driven is immoral.
These are the myths The Laziness Lie tells us and they’re ones I’ve absorbed over the course of my life just like everyone else. Some of these I am better at rejecting consciously while still reinforcing unconsciously and others I’ve shrugged off, as Dr. Price suggests in their book to do.
For instance, I do have self-esteem issues and some of that comes from my lack of interest in working. But most of it comes from my past relationships and the mistakes I made in them. On the other hand I don’t think I have an “inner laziness”, I have an outer laziness that I’m, at times, proud of and, other times, frustrates me. There are days where I want to exercise because I think I weigh too much (230 pounds at 5’10) but I just don’t have the energy and feel bad.
Let’s look at these others myths then, one at a time.
Recently, I did a speedrun of Kingdom Hearts 2, one of my favorite video games of all time. It took me approximately 5 1/2 hours to beat on Beginner (the easiest mode) in game time. I felt a swell of pride in this accomplishment as I hadn’t run the game in a long time and felt good about that time. It also felt odd to have serious pride about something I’ve done as it’s not a sensation I feel a lot. I do feel good about the sessions I dungeon master, but I can’t ever say it rises to full-on pride.
The third part of The Laziness Lie is perhaps one of the most damaging, dangerous and hard to ignore. I try to tell myself that I’ve largely shrugged off the idea that my worth is tied up in how productive I am in a day. But if that’s the case why do I make a schedule for myself every day? And why does it always revolve around getting meditating, writing and exercise done before video games, TV and other “lazy” activities where I’m not actively producing anything?
That said, I can feel confident about the last two myths. I do not think work is the center of my life, the center of my life is those around me who love me and support me. It is my friends, my loved ones, my hobbies, my interests and those who are kind enough to stick with me, despite my flaws and problems. The center of my life hasn’t been work in a long time, if it ever was.
There’s a problem with this argument however: I certainly view schoolwork as a major part of my life and I remember pushing myself so hard last semester with my senior thesis. To the point that I hit burnout and then kept going because I knew it needed to be done. I often try to segment my work (as Dr. Price suggests) but in some cases it seemed impossible, especially as the semester came to an end. This isn’t counting all of the other papers I had to work on either.
In this context, I do see schoolwork as closer to the center of my life, but usually I don’t push myself to the extent I did with my senior thesis last semester. Even when I lost my job back in September of 2020 (a story for another time), I cried not because I thought I was worthless but because I knew I would miss the dogs I worked with. I was scared of financial insecurity and the future suddenly seemed even more uncertain than it already did thanks to the pandemic.
And that brings us to the last lie that our culture tells us. That we should judge addicts, homeless people, or the unemployed more harshly than those who have part-time and especially full-time jobs. I can safely say I’ve rejected this myth but at the same time my comfort levels around the homeless are not what they would be for someone who was dressed in a suit and tie.
All of this is to say what I said at the beginning: I’m not immune to The Laziness Lie and furthermore, neither is anyone reading this. We are all flawed, imperfect beings to varying extents and we all would like to think we have (consciously and subconsciously) rejected the harmful ideas this society has tried to instill in us about work. But Dr. Price’s book proves to us that this isn’t as easy as we wish it was, it’s never going to be that easy, unfortunately.
But there are ways to make it better! There are ways to resist The Laziness Lie at every turn of your life whether that is relationships, school, work, or just about anything else. That doesn’t mean everything is going to be perfect once you start resisting it. Learning is a long road formed often from the mistakes you’ve made along the way, that’s something I’ve had to accept as I get older.
This doesn’t mean we can’t get better though and accept ourselves more and more, practicing self-compassion along the way as Dr. Price advocates.
At this point it’s worth explicitly stating that I recommend this book to any anti-work advocate who wants to take better care of themselves in this messed up capitalist society we are forced to live under. I will warn my readers it is largely a self-help book and Dr. Price is themself a psychologist who uses accessible but scientific language and citations to get their point across.
Personally, I appreciated and enjoyed those aspects of Laziness Does Not Exist, but some may be expecting a political manifesto and wind up disappointed. I will admit that my “major” criticism is that the book moves so tangentially from what I’d consider The Laziness Lie majorly affecting that I started to long for the conclusion, which thankfully soon came.
Not because this book is poorly written (far from it!) but because at that point in the book (nearly 150 pages in) I had said to myself, “OK, I understand your thesis and I think you’ve argued it well, I don’t think these last couple of chapters are strictly speaking necessary.” That doesn’t mean they aren’t good or that I didn’t appreciate them! But I could definitely see some trimming in this book to knock it down closer to the 150 page mark instead of the 180ish mark it reaches.
Again, this is a weak criticism on my part. Even the sections where I squinted and wasn’t sure how directly related it was to The Laziness Lie were well-written, helpful and agreeable. Dr. Price has written a masterful book on a subject that all anti-work advocates should bring their attention to.
I just hope Dr. Price took some time for themselves while writing it.
Oh hey, it’s been a while!
Feel free to check out my older posts and keep in mind this book review is a one-off before I head back for my final semester at (online) school, so I won’t be writing again till May, if not later. As you may be able to tell a lot has happened in my life since my last post but thanks to the (paltry and sporadic) stimulus checks and upcoming tax return I’m hanging in there.
Hey y’all, it’s been a weird past few months, to say the least. I’m still having online classes, working part-time and constantly worrying about my health and those close to me. In the meantime, here’s a podcast that I did a month or so ago and I hope you’ll enjoy it!
Yeah, the news lately has been bad, no doubt about that. I hope everyone who reads this site in Australia is taking care of themselves and those they love. And that those of us in the US think hard about what we can do to resist future war efforts against Iran or anyone else. My heart also goes out to the Iranian people, should a war start, no doubt they will (and likely have) suffered because of terrible leaders many there may not feel represent them.
As far as this site goes, which feels infinitesimal compared to the world on fire, drowning or a (low though it may be) potential for nuclear war, I wanted to update everyone. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s best to start over. Mostly for my sanity because republishing everything would be a nightmare of an effort. It’s not even something I’d pay someone to do unless we’re talking in the hundreds of dollars cause it’d likely take a long time for that person and it’d be menial.
At the same time, I don’t want to say goodbye to those posts I loved. The book reviews I published, the movie reviews I wrote, those feature articles that were a labor of love and much more. So I’ll be gradually filling the site with Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday re-posts of “older’ content going back to 2014 once I’m in school (1/21/20). Until then, expect some new content made up of overdue article commentaries, Youtube video commentaries and even a movie review if I get far enough!
For the older content, I’ll be focusing on popular content or content that I feel defines the site. Sadly, I will not be republishing any guest content as I want this new version of this site to focus on my own personal writings. I’ve also had a personal falling out with a few former guest writers which makes reaching out awkward and seem unnecessary in comparison to their peace of mind.
Therefore, I see this as a fresh new start and opportunity for me to begin again and focus on what I love doing, AKA writing and writing on my own terms. My lovely Patrons make it possible to pay for the Digital Ocean server every month which helps a ton, so thank you! If you’d like to give me a small monthly donation every month it (and I can’t stress this enough) literally helps. I’m a part-time worker and full-time student who gets by on food banks and generous help from her partner, friends and family from time to time. So every dollar really helps!
I’m also making it a personal goal to read more this year and use social media less. I find social media tends to dictate my mood far too much on a daily basis, it eats up too much of my time and I often get far too invested in it. Specifically this is the case with Twitter and I should re-invest that energy into things like reading, video games, writing, my personal life, exercise, literally anything else (even moderating the awesome antiwork subreddit which has reached over 80K Idlers recently!) because it’ll likely be better for me and my mental health!
That said, I didn’t just want to come back and tell y’all what I’ve been doing (school, D&D, dog-sitting, playing video games, my job, going to the gym, loving my wonderful partner, seeing friends and family, occasionally reading, watching Green Eggs and Ham which was surprisingly good?) and what I plan to do (write some kick ass content for y’all!) I wanted to show you as well.
So here’s my first new article, it’s about a great video called Play on Purpose:
This is one of those videos I was talking about earlier, it’s been languishing on my “Watch Later” list on Youtube. Okay but hold up, let’s stop for a second to appreciate how great the invention of the Water Later list is! It’s helped me keep track of those videos I don’t have time to watch right now but I’d love to get around to…some day. A lot of these new posts for the next few weeks (before I go into school) will be stemming from my Youtube Watch Later list so I can finally cull it a bit and make it full of the things I plan to get to more readily than say…months?
Anyways, we’re starting off in a fairly moderate way this year (politically speaking) but don’t worry, we’ll get more radical as we go, probably. This time around we have an Ignite talk. I did one of these once (it’s under my deadname, so ignore that)! They’re cool 5 minute talks that you do on a topic of your choice that you love. Jenny Sauer-Klein discusses in her talk why she loves play.
If I had my articles on play I’d link those but that’ll have to be later. So maybe if you’re reading this in the future there’ll be some links after this sentence!
For now, play is a powerful part of human existence and Sauer-Klein calls it a “medicine” for our daily lives. I’d definitely agree given many of the times I’ve engaged in play, whether it’s playing games with my partner, playing video games by myself, playing board games with friends, or something else, it felt healing in a small way. It didn’t remove all of my problems or undo trauma I’ve undergone, but it tends to make life more bearable and it gives me things to look forward to. That’s part of why I’ve reinvested myself into video games in the past few years.
Sauer-Klein wisely states that it is not only helpful for our mental health but that it can enhance trust, build connections and help motivate ourselves. As I just said, it helps me motivate myself to, you know, keep living, so that’s nice. It isn’t just play that I live for but it’s a big part of what makes my life essential. If I didn’t have play then I’d have very little to look forward to!
But OK, what is play? Sauer-Klein defines it as an action we undertake “…for the pure enjoyment of it”. Ever heard the expression, “It’s not the destination, it’s the process”? Or the journey matters more than the destination? Play helps us articulate those sayings and make them more practical in our day to day lives. When you are playing a game and having fun, sure winning or losing matter but honestly, you should be playing for the fun of it. That’s why a lot of disappointment comes from sore losers and winners who lack grace. They are treating play like work.
Unfortunately, as Sauer-Klein notes, this is what makes play difficult for some to wrap their heads around. All this amounts to for some adults is that an interest in play is childish (what’s so bad about kids?) and “frivolous” as Sauer-Klein specifically says in her presentation. But sometimes it’s OK to watch non-serialized shows where the stakes are low. It’s OK that Tom and Jerry never seriously hurt each other in their episodes because then it’d just be sad and horrible.
It’s OK to not have consequences to given things, it has its place in the universe. That doesn’t mean everything should be without consequences or that we shouldn’t take care in how we play with each other. But it also doesn’t mean that emulating kids is always a bad things, especially their curiosity concerning how the world is formed and our premises based on that. Such as unhelpful concepts and abusive or nonsensical power dynamics. Letting ourselves become more curious, playful and flexible allows us to tackle the world is new and exciting ways!
That said, for all of the positives I can list with this presentation, Sauer-Klein comes from a rather privileged background. She’s a successful businesswoman who lauds the integration of mindfulness into capitalism and how work and play can be complimentary. I actually agree in a sense but it isn’t that sense that Sauer-Klein is talking within. I see play as something that can supersede work, whereas Sauer-Klein is talking about work tolerating play.
She’s right that the level of disengagement of workers is high, but merely introducing play, mindfulness and other liberal strategies isn’t enough. It’s not enough to tweak the system, we need to come up with alternatives where truly playful ideas can flourish. Seeing play as an “extended state of mindfulness + fun” seems like a decent way to define it (though, as I’ll link in the future, there are better ways) but it leaves a lot of room to define or insert mindfulness and fun where it simply won’t be allowed as much as Sauer-Klein thinks it will be.
That said, I’m all for play when it “levels hierarchy” and turns strangers into community (if that’s what everyone wants, introverts unite!). It’s also true and fair to point out that Einstein loved play and so did George Bernard Shaw who said, and I’ll let this close this article just as Sauer-Klein has it close out her presentation:
We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
Throughout this year my admin had been saying he was going to make some big changes to sites he was helping me manage. I don’t understand a lot about websites so I trusted him to do what was right and thought I had everything backed up. Turns out…I was wrong. When he made those changes I lost everything. Well, Way Back Machine not included, thankfully.
I’m still pondering how to bring the site back, but for now, this’ll have to do.
It’s massively popular (over 75K Idlers at the time of writing) so there is plenty to do there while you wait for me to figure out what to do here. In the meantime, visit our Twitter and Facebook (where I occasionally share anti-work memes and updates on the status of the site!).