Diary

Time Peasant

22 June 2008 | Diary

I think I may have become “financially minded”, which is surely not the correct image for an artist to have. What happened to my Bohemian dream?

Checking my bank account online has become part of the ‘noise’ of my Internet life as much as checking my gmail has done. I do it far more frequently than I would care to admit.

The origin of this behaviour is easily explained. One of the companies for which I work has recently started paying me on a weekly (instead of monthly) basis and so I have begun checking my account every Friday to ensure that my paydirt hasn’t been gobbled by some technical cockup.

But it’s all too addictive. A quick peek at my bank account is as simple as checking my Facebook feed. Where business people of old would go to town each day to “do their banking”, I simply click a hotbutton on my browser. There’s nothing to it. It is a microtask at best but one that achieves a minor sense of accomplishment since anything vaguely official equates to ‘work’. And if ‘work’ can be done within a matter of seconds I get myself a happy.

It’s also fun to keep track of everything and to see the weird scheduling of some other companies. For example, some money went out of my account today for some towels I bought at Muji about two weeks ago. And a charity donation to the Glasgow Women’s Library came out this week despite the fact that I authorised it over a month ago.

Is it wrong to be satisfied about the way these figures go up and down? Does the pleasure I take in this make me part of ‘the problem’? Have I actually matured and deradicalized to the extent that money has become important? Am I now a numbers zombie: an ambling corpse tugged around on a lead by the laughing, wanking man at the bank?

To be honest I suspect money is no more important to me than it ever has been. I just enjoy wracking up the numbers as in a game of Pacman.

This week I somehow managed to make money even though I didn’t do any work and squandered a whole lot of Euros in the bars and cafes of Berlin. “Life is Good” I find myself thinking.

But then next week I will be back at my desk and wondering if it will all be worth it. Is a week of leisure worth a week at work? Surely I could always be at leisure if I became a hobo.

Getting that leisure time is not just a monetary issue though. Thanks to some clever planning, my Berlin trip paid for itself (and I actually have plans to have a similarly self-funding trip to Toronto soon). It is, however, a time issue. I am not free to take vacation time whenever I please: my employers would soon get tired of that little game.

For the first time in my life I am making money at an acceptable rate. But while I am no longer a financial pauper I have become a temporal one: a time peasant. Would I trade the electronic numbers in for more sand in the hourglass? Probably not because I am anal retentive idiot and like to watch numbers moving around in the correct directions.



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