When everything is possible, life becomes unbearably gruelling

"Even though I relate critically to the gospel of efficiency, I have nevertheless digested its demands", writes the Editor-in-chief.

In Finnish.


I have always been envious of superhumans: those that manage ten-hour working days, run half marathons, do voluntary work and are active in politics, have multiple hobbies and read. I am not envious of them only because their life seems so interesting but also because it feels that the present world is made just for their kind: the achieving superhumans.

We live in a society that glamorizes efficiency, and with nearly every action being measurable, there is always room for improvement. You can always do things more efficiently, faster, better. Briefly put: if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

The requirements for efficiency are also evident in the academic community. In our result-driven world, the researchers and the research units must prove themselves with their results: the number of publications and degrees must be met or else the funding will soon run dry.

The Ministry of Education and Culture is the one in control, as it regulates the funding model for higher education institutes in Finland. Now this model is changing again with emphasis even more towards finished degrees. In December, student organisations SYL and SAMOK (the National Union of University Students in Finland, and the Union of Students in Finnish Universities of Applied Sciences, respectively) criticised the model that creativity, individual learning paths, and the quality of education are being crushed under the aim of manufacturing the most degrees.

One of the tools that enhances efficiency is modern technology that allows working wherever you are. With technology you are basically always available, so why not use your time to the fullest? You can read your email from your phone at any place, and you can make that one phone call from your holiday trip.

And those lovely tablets and laptops are so lightweight that it is very handy to pack one along for any occasion or trip!


Even though I relate critically to the gospel of efficiency, I have nevertheless digested its demands. I have noticed that every table can potentially be used for studying or working, and every idle moment my thoughts drift towards unfinished work issues.

I present the question: are efficiency and results the only way to measure success? And how long can the current model continue?

Nothing would ever improve if we lacked the courage to make changes, so I am not claiming that change is always a bad thing.

However, I do claim that by doing things more efficiently, with the same resources but just slightly faster and better, people will get tired. And what are we going to do with a world that is turned up to eleven, but it is inhabited by people that are totally fed up with living in it?

I am worried how the younger generation manages. According to recent research, students are more depressed and anxious than before. The Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare states that mental health problems and substance abuse are the major causes for students’ health issues, and they are also a risk factor in social exclusion and long-term disablements. These facts are quite incompatible with the requirement that students must be as efficient as possible. Credits must roll in at a certain rate or the student allowance will be cut short.

The exhaustion of the younger generation is something to be taken seriously. In the future we need those who are capable and have enough strength to fight the pivotal global challenges.


Translation: Kalle Parviainen.

Anni Hyypiö

Oulun ylioppilaslehden entinen päätoimittaja. Twitter: @AnniHyypio

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Work: larger than life

Learn the basics: work is for us, we do not live for work, writes the Editor-in-chief.

In Finnish.


Plenty of summer jobs and internships are ending this week. In the ideal case, the trainee is left with relevant job experience, a reference, a nice nest egg from the salary, and an overall feeling of satisfaction. The trainee can feel content for having started the job.

In the worst case, none of these exist, but instead the trainee, having worked all summer, has the start of a burnout and a red-hot hatred towards the whole working life, leaving the trainee asking why they took the job in the first place.

Unfortunately, both options are equally possible, and one can never know beforehand which one occurs.

However, most often work is just work: sometimes pleasant, sometimes boring, at times a bit tiring, often just pretty nice.


Work is a source of joy and sadness, anxiety and contentment for the modern people. Some have been given an insufferable amount of work (because the previous round of cooperation negotiations resulted in half the employees being axed), while some struggle to find a job regardless of constantly trying. (Except telemarketing, those places are always hiring!)

Work, employment, and especially unemployment have been hot topics under the current government. According to the latest statistic (21st of August) from Statistics Finland, the employment rate in our country has risen to 71.9 percent. Without a doubt this is good news, even though all kinds of speculations and doubts have been raised where these new jobs have appeared from.

Unemployment has a negative effect on national economy. Still, work is also a question of morality: people feel work is something one must do to be a good person; an actual, valuable part of the society.

I noticed the effect this way of thinking has when I was left unemployed for the first time after graduation. Not only was it unpleasant to make do with a meagre sum of money, the feeling of worthlessness and futility was also hard. No one needed me in anything, so I was not worth a thing.

The gloominess was only interrupted by brief periods of employment: if I was going to have a freelancing gig or a temping in a newspaper, I could once again breathe in the morning.


The importance of work is of course undisputed: it secures one’s livelihood, and at best cases it offers meaningful and significant feelings, pleasant fellow workers, occupational health services, and a meaningful way of spending eight hours of one’s day.

Of course, not all work has to be really special, stimulate one’s intellectuality, and look good in a resume. Sometimes work is just work, and it is done to receive salary. And that is enough.

Those who have a job, go sometimes to the other extreme and do only work and nothing else. Work takes over one’s life completely, and every hour is spent on working, apart from sleeping and eating.

Being entirely drawn into work is both a possibility and a danger. Significant, fun, and rewarding work is something one can do regardless of the hours, being completely exhausted, and ignoring one’s well-being. One must have the strength to carry on, as the work is pleasing in the end.

This is something I have run into in other places as well: in studies, in associations and positions of trust, in voluntary work, and in bands.

Sacrificing oneself and giving up everything for the sake of work feels good at first, but only up to a certain point. After that, the results are usually fatigue, cynicism, disgust, and eventually bitterness, in a varying order.


Therefore, a reminder for all the heroic workers: even though your job (or your degree, your work in an organisation, the voluntary work you do, or your band) feels like the most important thing in the world, do not let it grow larger than you, and do not let it be the only thing that defines your identity.

Because if you are suddenly left without it, what is then left of you?

This is a wisdom I have tried to teach to myself. When I have drowsily poured my usual cup of coffee in the morning, our office secretary Riitta has given me an excellent piece of advice. She recommended me to pour some water into a glass, and then place my finger in the water.

If a hole remains in the water when I pull out my finger, I am irreplaceable in my work.

Otherwise, I am not.


Translation: Kalle Parviainen.

Anni Hyypiö

Oulun ylioppilaslehden entinen päätoimittaja. Twitter: @AnniHyypio

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