Laziness Does Not Exist by Devon Price

laziness does not existWhen I picked up Laziness Does Not Exist, I was expecting a book that counters capitalistic thinking—maybe along the lines of David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs. The opening of the book got my hopes up and I was excited to dig in deep. Instead, this ended up feeling more like a self-help book for people who have economic and class privilege. It focused on fairly privileged people in traditional workplace environments, with suggestions on setting boundaries, having realistic expectations, and avoiding burnout. That’s important stuff for people who are in those environments, but there are so many people working jobs where there is no HR to talk to or negotiate with, where working from home isn’t possible at all, and who can’t afford to turn down work/independent contractor gigs. If you are in any of those categories, especially if you live at or close to the subsistence level, I think you’ll be as frustrated by this book as I was.

I did appreciate Price’s points on information and the internet and social media, about letting go of the need to learn and know everything (and share everything). They talk about how data and information overload is just another type of consumerism, and how that affects society. They mention being thoughtful about the info we share online, as well as the info we gather. Are we really learning something we need, or unnecessarily traumatizing ourselves? How does this impact our mental health?

But overall, the target audience seems to be workaholics and people pleasers with a hefty dose of privilege… not so much those of us barely surviving capitalism. I never got a solid, cohesive feel for “laziness does not exist” because Price mostly ignores a huge chunk of the population. When you’re barely surviving capitalism, there’s a lot of hinting around that you’re in this situation because you aren’t trying hard enough, you aren’t working hard enough—you’re lazy. Laziness Does Not Exist had an opportunity to counter that messaging, but catered to the the bourgeoisie instead.