A few weeks ago, I went on one of my favorite podcasts — The Ezra Klein Show — to talk about burnout, workism, and our relationship to labor. In our conversation, I invoke the idea of “LARPing” your job, a phrase my partner uses to describe the way we try and show evidence that LOOK, OVER HERE, I AM WORKING. (‘LARP’= Live Action Role Playing).
“We’re performing, in other words, largely for ourselves. Justifying to ourselves that we deserve the place that we’ve found ourselves. Justifying to ourselves that writing for the internet is a vocation that deserves steady payment. At heart, this is a manifestation of a general undervaluing of our own work: we still navigate the workplace as if getting paid to produce knowledge means we’re getting away with something, and have to do everything possible to make sure no one realizes they’ve made a massive mistake.”
I have struggled with this a lot since working from home during the pandemic.