Don’t You Hate Your Job?
About once a week, I’m asked the same question.
“Don’t you hate your job?” A variation on the theme is, “How can you stand your job?”
Well, I admit there are some days when I dream about living on a beach.
But I don’t hate my job.
I lead a social media team for a large organization. Our team is tiny, about a fifth of what it needs to be. The last few months have been tough: too much work, not enough people to do it, pressure to do it anyway. The organization has questions and issues. From time to time, some people get mad. And then they vent. They don’t have to be mad at us to vent. We’re just convenient.
After doing this for two-and-a-half years, I’ve discovered there is no profanity, or creative variation of profanity, that can make me blush. (The profanity also suggests how far public discourse has fallen – many people seem unable to communicate without it.)
I’ve learned how to read threats on Twitter and Facebook. There are threats, and then there are threats.
I’ve realized that people believe the internet affords some kind of anonymity or immunity – that you can (and will) say things online that you would never dream of saying to someone face-to-face.
And like all other communications work, everyone’s an expert. Politely I explain that one doesn’t tweet on Facebook. Or that the volume of tweets on Twitter isn’t as important as the influence of the tweets on Twitter.
It’s not surprising that people think I must hate my job. One well-meaning friend referred me to Tim Keller’s interview in Christianity Today: “Why Tim Keller Wants You to Stay in That Job You Hate.” It’s a good article, but I don’t hate my job. I don’t have to be convinced to stay in it.
I really don’t, not at all. It’s good work, fulfilling work, work that often makes a difference in people’s lives. My tweeting of someone’s blog post can be an encouragement — a recognition that makes a difference, often a big difference. No day is like any other day, although a little boredom now and then might be welcome. I do have bad days; every job has bad days.
A good friend called me last week and, after we had talked for a while, asked how I could stand to do my job. And this is what I told her:
If I was not a Christian, this job would be total burn-out in six months at the outside. If you think humanity is basically good, all you need to do is spend some time on Twitter and Facebook. I consider both of those social media channels prime evidence for the doctrine of original sin. Without a grounding in faith, without the knowledge of whom I ultimately serve, I would indeed hate my job.
Instead, I see hurting, desperately unhappy people, people who are scared, people who project their fears on to anything they can, and sometimes that’s my organization. And me. And they are everywhere, although the volume seems loudest in North America and Europe.
I can’t and don’t respond with the offer of a nice tract or a Bible verse, but I do try to respond with compassion, encouragement, and caring. It’s not easy when people are shouting four-letter words at you in ALL CAPS so you don’t miss their point.
But I’m also not a pushover. Sometimes you have to be firm, and hold people accountable for what they’re saying, even when it makes them angry. Sometimes you have to be the adult in the room, the schoolteacher who walks back into the classroom.
I love the work. It’s important. It matters. And it makes a difference. I’m blessed to be able to do it.