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The Burden Of Productivity


Rejecting a certain idea of performance in the age of creative destruction

The injunction to be useful, that is, to have a quantifiable contribution in a productivist society, weighs heavily on our shoulders. This commercial relationship that we all have with the community in which we live sometimes disturbs me. Am I simply a cog in a machine designed to provide a return? Is living today just being a worker in a huge factory called a nation?

I feel guilty when I have the impression that I am not “productive”. My identity and a fortiori my happiness are intimately linked to my daily performance. Through my work I obtain both a source of income and social recognition. However, as soon as I work less, I fear exclusion and loss of meaning. It’s like a sword of Damocles hanging over my head. I have unwittingly adhered to an ideology that imprisons me and ultimately alienates me. The dogma of performance, which is cultivated at school, through sports or even through video games, is omnipresent. I was fed this irresistible nectar from childhood. I imagine that you have been as well.

Productivism is a tempting drink: it offers us an instant gratification that could be described as the intoxication of victory. My brain has become accustomed to the dopamine rush I get with every satisfying and quantifiable result. But what do I do when certain facets of my life, especially the most intimate ones, are not quantifiable by nature – let alone earn dopamine shots? I believe, without meaning to, that I neglected them.

How do we keep our self-love when we have to get out of this “board game box”, in a world that is not only performance?
It is more necessary than ever to extricate ourselves from this giant rodent spinner. The rules of the sensible world are different. My happiness cannot be achieved by proxy in relation to my economic avatar. I must not give in to the temptation to replace my intimate identity by my productivist identity.

Indeed, downloading the cerebral software of performance can be a risky choice even if this process is most often only unconscious. We probably run the risk of mortgaging our happiness and missing out on our life in the end. By systematically trying to evaluate our personal life according to arbitrary performance indicators, we introduce the idea of a win-lose relationship. However, intimate life is not a zero-sum game, it is quite the opposite.

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