What do you do?

What do you do?

As an adult the first question you ask, or get asked, when you meet someone for the first time is often 'What do you do'?

By 'do' we of course mean what job do you do.

This has always kind of annoyed me because it's kind of a shitty question.

Maybe it wasn't a shitty question a few hundred years ago when 'what you do' was likely providing some integral service for the local community. I'm thinking medieval butchers, fish mongers, farmers etc... Maybe it just hung around out of some ancient relevance.

Or maybe it's purely a social hierarchy thing.

We’ve assigned social value to certain types of work so asking this question is a quick and easy way to ascertain whether or not you rank higher than the person you are talking to. ie. CEO > Taxi driver, Doctor > nurse or Chef > McDonalds Cashier.

In the modern world this way of thinking feels outdated because of how society has evolved. The answer to that question actually tells you very little about a person these days.

Einstein worked at a patent office while he formulated his ground breaking theories. I wonder what we would have thought of him if he responded to the question 'What do you do' with 'Patent office clerk'. I'd imagine our judgement of him would be very different than if he told you that what he does is create mind shattering theories on the nature of reality.

If you ask me what I do then the answer would be something like 'software engineering manager'. But that tells you very little about me.


It would likely completely mislead you about me as a person.

What does it all mean?

Most of the time I'd much rather talk about health, fitness, music, society, music or cooking than technology or software.

In fact I am generally distrustful of technology and role it plays in our modern society.

I have no personal social media accounts, a cheap old phone, and I will never connect my house to the internet (conveniences like Alexa or central heating that I can manage from my phone).

I have a general disdain for technology for the sake of technology and think that society would be better off if we withheld some technological advances until society was mature enough to use it responsibly.

Social media for example, we clearly weren't ready for that one...

So it should be pretty obvious that my answer to the question not only doesn't tell you much about me, it would likely lead to incorrect assumptions.

It's a bad question.

The next time I meet someone new I'm going to ask 'What do you like to do' instead... I reckon the answer will be a lot more interesting and definitely reveal more about the actual person than the social cog.

You don't know shit

You don't know shit

Small positives

Small positives