Unemployment? Naw, FUNemployment

unemployedposter

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)

Advice for fellow unemployed journalists at WFLA and the Tampa Tribune

Another round of layoffs for our friends at Media General. The Tampa Bay Business Journal reports that the company eliminated 17 Tribune positions and six from WFLA. As recently as March, the Tribune let go dozens of employees and those left must take nearly two week vacations this summer.

So welcome to the club, boys and girls. So what the hell are you going to do now?

First, join a community of journalists in a similar situation. Right now, I’m particularly fond of Jilted Journalists. Maybe it’s just because the name sums up my feelings on the whole unemployment thing. (h/t to Virtual Journalist for the link.)

Next, apply for the dole. But figure you’ll only get $300 a week at most.

Then, start looking for jobs. If you’re thinking about government work, I have one piece of advice: Don’t take postal service jobs from private companies promising you sample exams and study guides. With all the layoffs, the feds are seeing more of these scams. Get more info here.

(Oh, and if you’re thinking of moving to some hip town and becoming an alt-weekly writer, I’ve got some bad news.)

Now you need some extra money. Check out the latest list of class-action lawsuits. You, too, could get a few bucks in the mail.

In the meantime, you’re going to need to save some money. So, join one of those food warehouse memberships for a 60-day free trial and spend your severance on snacks for the next year. You’re gonna need it.

Finally, join the blogosphere! Come on, all the other reporters are doing it! Believe me, there’s nothing like embracing the technology that destroyed your life’s career. Good luck!

There’s a whole lot more unemployed journalists in Florida

Bob Norman of the Broward County New Times has the latest on the staff cuts at the Sun-Sentinel:

I got Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman on the phone in Chicago, and all he would give me were corporate platitudes. “We are constantly trying to improve the business model,” he told me. “We are doing a number of things to be efficient across the company. Getting into the nitty gritty details is not something I’m going to do.”

He told me to call Jennifer Sacks, the Sentinel spokeswoman. She told me that whatever was happening in classifieds was something she couldn’t “expand on.”

Isn’t it great how the Sun-Sentinel is so accountable to the public about what’s going on? For them, it’s all about sunlight, openness, and the power of the truth — as long as it’s another company.

Check out the list on his blog here. He’s also got an item up about layoffs at the smaller Palm Beach Daily News.