Some things just jump out at you. And for jumping out at you, demand to be written about.
Two weeks ago the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story about a business sector that is starting to reveal itself. Precisely because the competition to be accepted at a college can be so incredibly keen, businesses are forming to aid the ambitious in their pursuit. Which requires a pause.
Some readers are surely responding that consulting services meant to help young people navigate college admissions have long existed. That’s very true. What haven't long existed are services meant to help females work through the process of joining a sorority. Yet precisely these businesses are forming as competition to get into a sorority becomes more and more ferocious. What a world we live in! Please stop and think about how distant gaining admission into a sorority is from the food and shelter survival that used to define life for the vast majority of the earth’s inhabitants.
The simple truth is that there are (and surely were) so many necessities and luxuries that required fulfillment before people had the means to pay a consultant for expert advice on getting into a collegiate social institution. But that’s where we are. Well-paid sorority consultants increasingly dot the commercial landscape, and the fact that they do is very telling about what’s ahead. And the implications for retirement are profound.
For one, it’s useful to stress that retirement itself has a long been a first-world luxury born of abundance. For most, work has long been life precisely because life of the living was long defined by pursuit of survival.
Which is why the future is so bright. It’s not unrealistic to speculate that in the United States and other rapidly-growing parts of the world, retirement is yet again on the verge of disappearing; albeit for reasons wholly opposite the brutal norms that used to keep us at work until our dying day.
The happy reality of the moment, one vivified by the rise of “sorority consultant” as a viable and high-paying job, is that we’re in the midst of abundance that would really and truly stagger generations past. If per George Will the past is “another country,” the present and future are a completely different universe relative to the past. In the past there was quite simply no context for “sorority consultant” as a viable, bill-paying job. Which is very telling about the present and future.
It’s a happy sign that with life’s necessities and luxuries more and more of a foregone conclusion (supercomputers that fit in our pockets are presently a global norm for rich and poor alike…), the future of work will be a beautiful one. As I predicted in my 2018 book The End of Work, the jobs of the future will very much match the unique skills and intelligence of everyone such that the word laziness itself will become dated. No one is lazy, or for that matter dumb, as much as a lack of prosperity suffocates a lot of genius.
The rise of the sorority consultant signals the rise of all manner of specialized work that is surely a consequence of prosperity that will surely soar as automation does. The present and future of work once again promises to showcase what’s brilliant within all of us such that we avoid retirement with every ounce of our strength. And if we do retire? They will be tears of sadness. What a world!