Sam Radford

December 8, 2021

Don’t commodify it

My friend Ryan sent me an article from The Atlantic yesterday titled, ‘How to Care Less About Work’. It’s a great read. This paragraph, talking about activities unrelated to work, in particular stood out to me:

Whatever your thing might be—and maybe there are many things—the most important component should be aiming to make it as unlike work as possible. This means resisting the very contemporary capitalist urge to commodify it in some way, even when people say to you, “Oh, you’re so good at [this thing]; you should sell it!” But it also means resisting the urge to master it, or display it in a way that transforms it into some mode of performance. You can want to improve, or make something for others, but that’s different from trying to be the best, and beating yourself up (or quitting entirely) because of your inadequacies.

Everything we’re good at doesn’t have to be something we make money from or showcase to others. It mustn’t be. 

Reading this reminded me of an opportunity I was offered at work recently. My boss asked me—after reading some of my blog writing—if I wanted to write for our organisation at all. 

I said No. 

Why? Because there would be no joy for me in writing about a subject I am I not personally invested in. 

Beyond that though, I felt it would steal the joy from the writing I do currently love doing.

It is incredibly easy to turn something enjoyable and life-enhancing into something that feels like a burden, delivering nothing but heavy expectations. 

We need things in our lives that we do for the pure joy of it. We might not be any good, or we might be brilliant—but we need to keep it free from commodification.

—Sam

Got some thoughts on this? I’d love to hear from you—do hit reply or drop me a note.

@samradford | samradford.com