I wear many hats. As a writer, I’m Singapore’s first Hugo and Dragon Award nominated writer. As a blogger, I co-founded The Online Citizen and sparked the rise of citizen journalism in Singapore. Martial artist, soldier, husband, son, student, coach, I’ve been many things to many people.
As myself, I am a keyboard monkey.
The technology-driven economy rests on an invisible army of low-skilled tech-savvy workers. Nameless, faceless people who carry out tasks too sophisticated for machines, yet too dreary for humans. Data entry, low-end copywriting, captcha solving, content moderators, other work that requires a combination of human intelligence and empathy, and inhuman tediousness and monotony.
Document drafting was my life. As a child, I watched my mother draft ISO documentation day and night. In the military, I pushed paper, filled forms, and managed documentation. After completing my education, I followed in my mother’s footsteps and continued creating ISO documentation.
When I started out, I thought it was a choice. A way to support myself and pay the bills while I pursued better career opportunities. But those opportunities never materialized. Every time I tried to pull myself out of the suck, I just kept sliding back into it. Document drafting, data entry, low-end copywriting and resume writing became my only reliable source of income for years on end.
It was a trap.
Anyone with a computer and a basic understanding of Microsoft Office can work these kinds of jobs. They are completely fungible, completely replaceable, completely disposable. They are the little cogs that keep a complex machine going, but there are so many cogs out there that each cog possesses minimal value.
When artificial intelligences inevitably grow powerful enough to take over from them, these jobs are going to go away. An AI does not need to eat or sleep, it does not rebel against its maker, it does not need to be paid, it does only exactly what it is programmed to do. The greatest task of the keyboard monkey is to train his AI replacement. Already there are AIs in the fields of data entry, content moderation, and other low-skilled tech work.
There is no future in these jobs. No skills to learn, no career progression ladder, no way to rise above them. They are not meant to be permanent jobs. You can barely support yourself, never mind a family, if you work these jobs for long. Yet the longer the stay in them, the longer you will stay in them. The market moves quickly, in-demand skills are always shifting, and if you remain stagnant you become irrelevant. You become little more than a monkey hammering away at a keyboard.
I’ve been that monkey for over a decade.
Caught in an environment like this, you have two choices. You can let it break you. Become the monkey the corporations need you to be. Bow to the inescapable logic of the market and scramble forever for a handful of peanuts. Chain yourself to the keyboard and pray to stave off the coming of the machines for just another day.
Or you can rise above.
Confessions of a Keyboard Monkey is a collection of 10 life lessons from a lifetime of document drafting. It is a memoir, a long-form essay, an antidote to corporate drudgery. Drawing from Zen and Daoism, meditation and martial arts, pop culture and neuropsychology, and anecdotes from over ten years hunched over at the keyboard, it brings together a vast range of topics to create a manifesto for mindfulness.
Confessions is not a book about success. It is a book of failure, tediousness, absurdity, and how to rise above it all.
It is about turning a keyboard monkey back into a man.
In a world that wants to grind you down and reduce you to a monkey hammering away at a keyboard, take back your humanity.
Buy Confessions of a Keyboard Monkey on Amazon here!
Or do you want more?
Confessions is a foundational text. It describes 10 principles to develop discipline, mindfulness, psychological well-being, positive habits, and more. But to make the most of them, you need to put them into practice, and to keep doing it until they become a part of you.
You could fumble around for a lifetime like I did. Or you could follow in my footsteps and use the same exercises I did to practice these principles.
The complete edition of Confessions of a Keyboard Monkey features a set of supplementary worksheets along with the main text. With 50 pages of additional content, you’ll learn:
- Self-analysis tools and strategies
- How to choose the way you feel about something
- Methods to yield into difficult situations and produce superior results
- How to attract the people you like and repel the ones you don’t
- Deep meditation exercises to rewire your brain
And much, much more.
With these worksheets, you’ll unlock your deepest potential, identify and transform pain points, and cultivate the critical qualities that empower you to become the best you can be.
Break the chains to the keyboard and buy the complete edition here!