Monday, August 31, 2009

Euphemism Watch: Working for Free

As a freelance writer and an editor, I feel a strange compulsion - no, a duty - to check the writing/editing job listings on Craigslist on a regular basis. It has become a depressing and humbling ritual in recent times. In fact, about the only pleasurable part of it for me is marveling at all the creative ways the only prospective "employers" left these days attempt to infer that working for them for nothing is somehow a lucrative opportunity, while simultaneously avoiding any explicit mention of, you know, having to work for them for nothing.

Indeed, I heartily recommend this sleazy exercise in euphemism-spotting to others. Rubbernecking through these lonely missives from a dying industry can be a darkly amusing experience, especially if you're the kind of person who greets news of any major disaster by packing a picnic and loading the kids into the car, or if you enjoy seeing the English language being abused to within an inch of reality.

To give you a taste, today I saw perhaps my favorite attempt yet at turning a lack of meaningful pay into a benefit. This ad seeking a voluntary editorial manager for some unnamed, underfunded internet startup helpfully mentions "... if you happen to be on unemployment insurance, this work will not jeopardize your benefits." No, and it won't trouble your bank balance either.

Interviews will be taking place soon; please leave your dignity at the door.

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