“Do not try to be pretty. You weren’t meant to be pretty; you were meant to burn down the earth and graffiti the sky. Don’t let anyone ever simplify you to just “pretty.””—Things I Wish My Mother Had Taught Me | d.a.s (via thedame)
This week brought the news that Zappos, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Amazon, is going to occupy the unemployed for months with (mostly futile) attempts to become virtual “friends” with the online shoe retailer. As the Wall Street Journal reports:
Zappos, based in Las Vegas, plans to hire at least 450 people this year, but candidates won’t find out about those jobs on LinkedIn.com, Monster.com or the company website. Instead, they will have to join a social network, called Zappos Insiders, where they will network with current employees and demonstrate their passion for the company—in some cases publicly—in hopes that recruiters will tap them when jobs come open.
A naïve reader might imagine that the traditional hiring process, where a company posts its openings and job seekers submit their cover letters and resumes, did plenty to serve the interests of our nation’s job creators. But Zappos’s “head of talent acquisition,” Michiael Bailen, told the Journal that traditional hiring “is too ‘transactional.’” Instead of reading about the qualifications of potential hires, “Recruiters instead will spend time pursuing candidates in the Insiders group with digital Q&As or contests, events that they will use to help gauge prospective hires’ cultural fit.”
Zappos has apparently decided it is no longer good enough to be a qualified hire who is interested in the job. An interested applicant must also spend unremunerated time pretending to engage in virtual social relationships with existing employees. The American economy has become so warped that it now appears reasonable to a subsidiary of a leading public company to require people who may never be hired to spent large amounts of time pretending to be friends with people with whom they may never work.
This represents the convergence of at least three disturbing trends in the current American economy: the long-term unemployment of large numbers of people and the consequent power given to any company which is hiring; the technology industry’s revival of old prejudices under catchy new names; and the way that technology increasingly erodes any sense that our work selves are merely a component of our lives, rather than the entirety of our existence.
“The optimist fixes the exchange rate between joy and woe, thereby determining the value of life. The pessimist, who refuses the principle of exchange and the injunction to keep investing in the future no matter how worthless life’s currency in the present, is stigmatized as an unreliable investor.”—Ray Brassier