Unemployment Can Be Fun!

Categories: Bidness, Community
unemployment.jpg
flickr.com/photos/amin_tabrizi
Lane Wallace came to an astonishing revelation two weeks ago, which she very kindly shared in The Atlantic: It is better to be unemployed in New York, L.A. or Silicon Valley than anywhere else in this great nation of ours.

Of course, if all those unemployed New Yorkers or Angelenos or Techheads were really smart, they would have moved to Scandinavia before they lost their jobs; according to Foreigh Policy, Denmark doles out the most generous severance packages, but Norway, Sweden and Finland aren't too stingy, either.

But whatever. We read enough East Coast magazines to know that anyone who doesn't live near an ocean is a total sap. That's why we Midwesterners aren't having as much unemployment fun as our coastal counterparts.

Wallace quotes from an article that ran in the New York Times about four friends in Manhattan who found themselves unemployed at the same time and decided to use all their extra spare time to make a movie: "To be an out-of-work artist in New York is to be part of a grand tradition."

And then Wallace continues:
On the one hand, places like New York City, Los Angeles, and (for more technically-oriented creative types) Silicon Valley, are obscenely expensive places in which to live. Which means doing a start-up or trying to make a living there as a freelance artist is far tougher financially than, say, in rural Minnesota. But location does matter--not only for moral support, but also in terms of finding other people with more fluid lives to provide bits-and-pieces creative and technical support. 

When I first quit my corporate job and set out to be a self-employed writer, I was living in a predominantly blue-collar community in Minnesota. The cost of living was wonderfully low. But getting hit with "when are you going to get a job?" from everyone I met was exhausting. Tell someone in New York or LA that you're a writer, or tell someone in Silicon Valley that you're starting your own company, and the response is far more likely to be, "Wow! That's great! Tell me all about it!" And, quite possibly, the conversation will conclude with, "you know who you might want to talk to ..."
Um, yeah.

Well, to borrow from Wallace and substitute personal experience for actual facts, I myself have been unemployed in several cities, including New York, and must conclude that the experience was equally unfun everywhere.

Plus, it's pretty much a given that artists are going to spend a lot of time unemployed, particularly if they want to pursue their art full-time. What about people who are not artists? Like, say, all the unemployed autoworkers out there. Or the downsized corporate employees. You know, the vast majority of the population.

So let me use this bully platform of the DailyRFT to take a poll here.


In the meantime, if unemployment in St. Louis isn't fun enough for you and you feel a creative urge and don't have the desire or wherewithal to make a movie, the website Stickers and Donuts has a number of unemployment projects for you to pursue.

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