One of the things which annoys me about discourse in general is that if you are discussing things like work, unemployment, the downsides of work, at some point, it is likely that some person will say something along the lines of “they need to live in the real world”, or “you’re living in the real world now”.
Without wanting to go into it in too much detail, I got told I was living in the real world now in response to a comment that I was finding my city centre bus commute to be a hassle. It is a hassle for various reasons. It is unpredictable in length, depending on what bus model I wind up on, I have a greater or lesser likelihood of being extremely travel sick by the time I get to the city centre, and a journey distance of 6.7 kilometres can take anything between 25 minutes and an hour. If I’m getting really travel sick, it’s likely that the journey is also taking longer than usual. Some bus drivers are absolute killers on the clutch. I thought the buses were all automatic but some days I wonder.
Anyway, this apparently means I am now living in the real world. I find it annoying, and to be honest, dishonest. It’s been a feature of my life for the last 3 months. Prior to that, for 9 months I was “resting” meaning I was applying for jobs after finishing college, and prior to that, I was commuting over and back to UCD, leaving home at 6.55 to a) get across the city in a reasonable space of time and b) get a parking space at UCD. I have no doubt there are some people who would assume that because I was a student for a year, I wasn’t living in the real world. Prior to that I drove to work for more than a dozen years. That must have been a fantasy universe as well.
This real world nonsense is flung at people in a lot of debates. Teachers get told they should try living in the real world. I’ve taught teenagers. I don’t know one person in any job that I’ve worked in who has done the whole spiel about teachers having an easy life who has any even remote concept of what’s involved in teaching. It may not be the real world, fine. But as a dream world, it’s a lot bloody harder than most of the other jobs I’ve worked in. I think people use the real world as a signifier that they are, or have been envious of people for some reason. Sure, you’d like not to go into work for 9 months. Try dealing with the stress of managing finances in those circumstances. The real world varies. For some people it’s incredibly easy, compared to others. For some, it is incredibly hard. Often, over time, it changes.
Life doesn’t become more real either which way. It only is as it is and it’s up to you to recognise what you can change. I’ve played every game around the bus schedule to try and minimise the impact of it on my life. My life didn’t magically become more real in the last three months because I was getting the bus to work compared to the last 15 years where I mostly drove.
It is a pure intellectual insult to split people into those who live in the real world and those who do not.