A Skype interview in my pyjamas with American writer Jack Kelly led to this article on the ever-entertaining site, PlanetIvy.com…
We spoke to the author of the How To Be Jobless blog, in hopes of becoming more enlightened about unemployment.
There is nothing funny about being unemployed. There is nothing funny about spending thousands of pounds on an education and then simply being unable to find a way to make it back due to circumstances completely out of one’s control. But humour has always been a way of coping with tough times. Some of the best comedians go through terrible experiences that help them to develop their funniest observational jokes.
This humour is the route that the popular blog, How To Be Jobless (HTBJ) has taken on the problem of unemployment. Because when you can’t control a situation, what else can you do but laugh? HTBJ was started by an impavid (not intrepid, because that implies too much heroism) journalism graduate with a master’s degree in the field, and yet no job. HTBJ is not the only person in this position – scores of people are in the same boat – but they are one of the few doing something interesting about it. The blog is part terrible job interview experiences, part hilarious unemployment experiences, and part an outlet for other jobless folks to unify and realise they’re not alone.
After being made redundant whilst working in Thailand, HTBJ moved home to London and in her own words, “lost my mind very quickly”. At first, the blog was a dark way of coping with a problem that was uncontrollable – the original intent of the website was to commit suicide if no job was found within a year (although not a serious threat, death is usually a good motivator).
But the response to the creation of the site has been more than the anonymous author ever expected. Scores of people sent in messages identifying with the plight of the unemployed while feeling empowered at knowing other people are struggling with the same thing. This lead to the creation of the #pyjarmy, a tongue-in-cheek collective term for the unemployed and, “A way to make the jobless feel empowered”.
The idea is that the group will help the under and unemployed masses to get together online and take some power back. After all, as HTBJ pointed out, “It’s not the unemployed’s fault that they’re educated and jobless,” (most of the time). She mentions jokingly that it would be a great to get the pyjarmy to meet outside of parliament and create a giant pillow fort, refusing to leave until some legislator thinks up a way to help.
And in the meantime, HTBJ has some advice for all you jobless out there:
1) Find a way to laugh about it. Seriously. Otherwise you’ll become despondent and depress everyone.
2) Talk to people about your situation, but do it in a jokey form. No one likes a whinger.
3) Start a blog, or online venture of some sort so you have something outside of yourself to focus on. This forces you to look out into the world and actually write about something.
4) Leave the house. Even if it’s to go for a walk or to the gym or to a free art exhibition.
5) Beg, borrow or steal a coffee machine. Not just because coffee is the nectar of the gods but because it helps you be productive.
So how should you make the move from gainfully unemployed to a real person with a real job? Maybe with that university education you could pick up a paper round and blend in with the kids. Who knows, maybe your local scout troop is looking for some older members. I mean, have you really ever known how to start a fire properly? And just think about the merit badges! There’s some resume fodder: “Ranked #1 in fish catching merit badge” – I don’t know how you could not get hired.
Or maybe you could make an app. How about creating one that translates everything your parents’ dog barks? BOOM there you go. Slap some ads on it and after only a couple hundred hours of dedicated coding and programming you could make at least £12.
Listen, just keep moving. Make some headway, make some mistakes, don’t worry about making the wrong choice right now. Take enough shots and you’re bound to get a hit.