I’ve recently become obsessed with a new video game – it’s called The Job Application. The premise is thus: you download an application form for a job you don’t really want, and the goal is to fill in all the little boxes with information that the form asks you to provide. It sounds simple enough, but it can get quite tricky. Sometimes you have to dredge up things from your rapidly receding memory (I am nearly 30 years old), such as the exact day that you finished that English Literature exam 16 years ago – because that kind of info is really important, it’s not clear why it should be important, but it just is.
Sometimes they like to throw in little traps, like when you’re typing in your name into the little box but the formatting is weird, so half your surname appears at the bottom right hand corner, disembodied from the rest of it at the top. You then spend ages trying to fix it, acting out the Microsoft Office version of a Charlie Chaplin scene.
The Job Application has quite a good reward scheme going: once I’ve finally completed an application, I cross it off my to-do list, the whole ordeal is worth the small amount of satisfaction I get from drawing a little tick next to a task. It’s actually quite addictive, and you start to apply for more jobs just to get that thrill that comes with a deluded sense of progress. This is where the The Job Application’s power lies – in its ability to lure you into a sense of false hope and achievement. There has been many a time when I’ve felt positive at the end of a day of playing the game, thinking that I’ve been quite productive. However, when that rejection email eventually makes its way into your inbox, those two hours you spent on an application, the satisfaction of crossing it off your list, all those things are immediately cast into the void. That sense of achievement you had just dissolves into insignificance.
After all this, I often end up in a situation where I’m staring at yet another application form and pondering whether it’s worth spending the time filling it out. I look through my folder of rejection emails and think that my time would be best spent doing something else, but there is a nagging voice at the back of my mind, reading off one of those inane Facebook quotes, ‘you won’t know if you don’t try.’ What happens then is that I end up just sitting there staring into the screen, between possibility and the void, as my start up disk becomes replete with unsuccessful job application forms that I’ve forgotten to move to trash.