I think I’m in the throes of another life crisis where I question what I do for a living and why. Well, the why would be easy. I work for a cool company and am surrounded by some of the most talented people in the world. It’s a great environment and totally comfortable. I don’t make great money, but I get by and have a pretty good life. Still, I have moments like the one I had today and I have to ask myself, “Is this all there is?”
Today I had the not-so-pleasurable task of reading through a focus group report to cull information into soundbites for senior management who are too lazy to read the dreadfully boring report themselves. If I had minions, I would do the same. The focus group was conducted on one of our movies with the hopes of figuring out a viable sales strategy for the upcoming DVD release of said film. There wasn’t anything particularly fascinating in the report, and in the end was an appendix that listed all the questions the people in the focus group had been asked. At various points, as an instruction to the researchers, there were notes on how to move forward with particular answers to particular questions. And by notes, I mean the word “TERMINATE.” If someone had already planned on buying the movie on DVD, the instruction read “TERMINATE.” Why waste time analyzing responses from someone who has already been hooked? These being targeted studies, there were other disqualifying criteria that would cause someone’s answers to be apparently useless to the overall results. The one that stuck with me was the household income question. For those who answered that their annual household income is less than $35,000, the instruction read “TERMINATE.” This made me sad. Poor people can’t afford to buy DVDs – they’re too busy worrying how they’re going to put food on the table. So it seems their responses and opinions have no merit in the grand scheme of a capitalist society where we are obsessed with peddling our wares and convincing people to buy things they don’t need.
I had a similar moment yesterday when I was in a meeting with our video game vendor and they gave us an update on the state of the video game business in general. Which is not good. Apparently sales are falling. This was a huge problem for everyone in the room since this is how they make their living. But all I could think was, isn’t this a good thing? As a society, isn’t it a problem that we watch too much TV and play too many video games? It’s why the future generations have limited social skills beyond texting and are fatter than we ever were. Yet everyone sat around this table strategizing how we can convince kids to buy more and play more. I left the meeting feeling icky, like we had been talking about how to sell drugs to kids in the schoolyard.
It is possible that next week I’ll re-read this post and think that I’m taking this all way too seriously and probably need to lighten up. Or maybe this crisis of conscience will ultimately weigh me down and I’ll eventually get a new job doing something I actually feel good about. It is times like these when I wish that humanitarian work would actually pay the bills. Or that I had a viable money-making talent.