The Unemployed Life

Unemployment? Naw, FUNemployment


Last week, I linked to an article about “funemployment” on my news reel to the left of this post (SIGNS of the times … unemployed panhandler … Get it!?!), but I wanted to blow it out a bit more in case you missed it.

From the L.A. Times:

Michael Van Gorkom was laid off by Yahoo in late April. He didn’t panic. He didn’t rush off to a therapist. Instead, the 33-year-old Santa Monica resident discovered that being jobless “kind of settled nicely.”

Week one: “I thought, ‘OK . . . I need to send out resumes, send some e-mails, need to do networking.”

Week two: “A little less.”

Every week since: “I’m going to go to the beach and enjoy some margaritas.”

What most people would call unemployment, Van Gorkom embraced as “funemployment.”

While millions of Americans struggle to find work as they face foreclosures and bankruptcy, others have found a silver lining in the economic meltdown. These happily jobless tend to be single and in their 20s and 30s. Some were laid off. Some quit voluntarily, lured by generous buyouts.

Buoyed by severance, savings, unemployment checks or their parents, the funemployed do not spend their days poring over job listings. They travel on the cheap for weeks. They head back to school or volunteer at the neighborhood soup kitchen. And at least till the bank account dries up, they’re content living for today.

“I feel like I’ve been given a gift of time and clarity,” said Aubrey Howell, 29, of Franklin, Tenn., who was laid off from her job as a tea shop manager in April. After sleeping in late and visiting family in Florida, she recently mused on Twitter: “Unemployment or funemployment?”

Never heard of funemployment? Here’s Urban Dictionary’s definition: “The condition of a person who takes advantage of being out of a job to have the time of their life. I spent all day Tuesday at the pool; funemployment rocks!”

The article goes on for several more graphs with the predictable “my parents don’t like it” quotes and outlines some of the crazy adventures of the laid-off, including embarking on a “spiritual quest” in Asia. Something tells me he’s not just living off of unemployment benefits.

But I’ve told many of my friends and family that, in some ways, my layoff is the best thing to have happened to me in years. As some of those interviewed in the L.A. Times article say, I feel healthier, happier and more like myself. And I’m using this chance to do more things for me, like learning how to ride a bike, updating my Internet skills and taking a few vacations. All on the cheap and while looking for jobs online, of course.

I especially think this is a cardinal rule for unemployed journalists: Use this time wisely. We’re undergoing tough changes to our industry. After years of working 50-60 hours a week for news, we need this “lay-cation” to recharge and prepare for what happens next. I think many of us will be better reporters because of it.

I’d love to hear from other unemployed folk on how they are spending their days off. Just leave a comment below …

(Big thanks to Saint Petersblog 2.0 for the link)

4 thoughts on “Unemployment? Naw, FUNemployment”

  1. John M. says:

    It would be more “funemployment” if not for the fear that I’m never going to work again. This, despite the fact that I’ve been jobless before and have always survived.

    But I do try to make use of the time. I’m working to get a business off the ground ( that I might never had the courage to try if not forced into it.

    I also strongly recommend volunteer work. Not only does it make you feel useful, it puts you in contact with other people. One of them could lead you to the next paying opportunity.

    1. Alex Pickett says:

      Well said John. I think many of those in the article have backup money or parents stored away. But the way I figure it, it wasn’t my fault I’m jobless now and if I try hard enough, eventually something will open up. You have to trust your abilities.

      Oh, and I heartily second that volunteer suggestion.

  2. rachelengland says:

    I’m a 24 year old journo from Wales, UK. I’ve been unemployed for three months now, and for a while I maintained that heady state of optimism. And then less. And then lesser still.
    Unfortunately, the unthinkable happened; in a vastly different financial situation than Micheal (above) I had to move back in with my parents who live in the middle of nowhere – so no funemployment for me! Boo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *