Sunday, December 15, 2013

The nerd that wouldn't get a job

You may or may not have heard about it, but it's a thing. People who are very into playing World of Warcraft forge strong social bonds. Strong, lasting and ever present social bonds. Bonds that, in a very real way, portrays getting a job as a bad thing. As you'll have less time to do the important things, like raiding.

There are two ways to look at this.

The one way is to go "aaaaw, nerds, cute".

Another way to go is "hey, that's quite a shift in social and cultural values; I wonder if there's more to this than meets the eye?".

There might very well be. As the notion of the steady, continuous, lifelong 9-5 job fades away as a past cultural memory (a fading actively aided by the practice of replacing what used to be 9-5 jobs with eternally temporary forms of employment, with ever more creative names), people search for solidarity and social cohesion elsewhere. And they take it where they can find it.

It's easy to laugh it off as just nerds being nerds. There might be something more to it, though, the first instance of a development that's about to unfold. It is not unthinkable that these communities of people, over time, form formal and informal networks of support that enables them to avoid such distractions as the fluctuating labor market. Turn their newfound social capital into means of social reproduction, as it were, and thus undermine the notion of being employed as norm even further. Turning getting a job into something that's not just a bad thing, but a socially hard to justify thing. Why expose yourself to that when you can do something else, something better?

It is not unthinkable. It has, in fact, already happened. If you're a Starcraft fan, you'll have heard of the professional E-sports teams that have emerged over the years. Evil Geniuses, Team Liquid and others are already established entities, and there's countless more out there. It's a thing.

Formal and informal social support networks.

It's a thing.

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