Part of the digital economy? You’re www working class now

by Simon Henry @simlington

May Day or International Labour Day celebrates the working class.

But who are they?  Do they still exist? Do they wash themselves?

And will they watch Star Wars films on their day off? (The Bank Holiday is on May the Fourth.)

Actually, if you work on the internet, you have a surprising amount in common with the working class from the early Industrial Revolution.

We’re all www working class now. Here’s how:

1. Trade disunion

Arthur Scargill spent most of the 1980s battling with his unruly hair - and Margaret Thatcher

Arthur Scargill spent the 1980s battling his unruly hair and Margaret Thatcher. He lost both battles

There’s more chance you use Internet Explorer than of belonging to a trade union if you work on t’interweb.

It’s you against your capitalist oppressor – like in the olden days when trade unions were banned.

Actually, your ‘capitalist oppressor’ probably has a meditation room, private health care and share options.

But does this make up for the fraternity of shared misery we had when unions were popular?

2. Casual contracts

Short term contracts have turned many of us into the modern-day equivalent of the 19th century casual labourer.

Except we’re not starving, we get paid shed loads and we can afford to take months off at a time to go find ourselves in Thailand.

You get your loyalty rewarded with Tesco Clubcard.

3. Casual clothing

Beards like this are a common sight in the modern office. In fact this is pretty tame compared to some

Beards like this are a common sight in the modern office. In fact this is pretty tame compared to some

We can turn up for work looking – as my old mam would say – ‘An absolute disgrace’.

T-shirts with skulls on, hoodies, Bermuda shorts, flip-flops and massive beards are all acceptable in the modern office.

Okay, these didn’t actually exist during the Industrial Revolution (except the beards), but the 19th century worker looked fairly messy too.

You see things haven’t moved on so much.

4. Return of the Poor Laws

The spectre of unemployment haunts us and we do everything we can to avoid it.

Gone are the days when you could sign on and work on the side, cash in hand.

Signing on every day for a pittance isn’t far removed from the days of the Poor Law and the workhouse.

5. We actually make stuff

We all work in manufacturing now.

In the 1980s there was lots of hand-wringing about the death of manufacturing industry.

But the coalface is now the developers’ desk and the factory floor is the web producer’s laptop.

Just mess about on Photoshop or WordPress for a bit and voila – you’ve made something.

Like a new blog.

If you enjoyed this, you may like my post about why Failure is often better than success.

You can get an email alert whenever I publish a new post. If you’re on a mobile you can sign up below. If you’re on a computer, sign up at the top right-hand of the page.

And you can follow me @simlington on Twitter

Copyright Simon Henry @simlington 2014


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