Op-ed pick: ‘Do what you love’ is bad advice

This column from Slate about the mantra of “do what you love” caught the eye of one of our producers, Meggan Ellingboe.

Meggan also works as a yoga instructor, a profession that a lot of people fantasize about pursuing as a career. But unless you have a spouse to support you, Meggan said, it’s tough to make it since “you are only compensated for class time and not for planning the workout, choosing music, driving from club to club, or continuing your own education.”

And that’s what Miya Tokumitsu points out in her Slate column. “Do what you love” — or DWYL — isn’t something most of us can afford.

DWYL is a secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation but is an act of love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, presumably it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient.

Tokumitsu goes on to argue that DWYL devalues manual labor and sends an “anti-worker” message. You can read the entire column here.

  • davehoug

    I think this overstates the case that manual work is devauled. However, I recall early advice “Don’t expect to get rich doing what other people do for a hobby.” This is like unpaid interns hoping for connections, professors of some obscure topic, and other work where a lot of folks want in, driving down the value / cost / wages of all.