Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Cult of The Hustle

When did performative workaholism become a lifestyle?

Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?, Erin Griffith, The New York Times, January 26, 2019

The always-on, always-on-call, always producing, always sharing, always hustling, maximizing ROI life.

The whole thing feels like an energy suck in one direction.

It’s not just young people. I’m seeing it in my cohort too.

Hustle, grind, climb the ladder, stay on top, keep informed, serve all.

The ones who can’t (or won’t) keep up are beginning to opt out.

Those of us who have hit the middle of our lives, I’m coming to believe, got lucky.

We remember a time when we had to find pay phones, couldn’t take our work home with us, couldn’t be on-call all the time, had to go to libraries, bookstores, encyclopedias, and newspapers to find information. The technologies weren’t there.

We also went to college when it was much less expensive. We are not burdened with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans.

Many of us are already at the point where we have proven ourselves. Most of us have already found our place in the world (even if some of us aren’t entirely happy about it).

I don’t think I’m a complete Luddite. The access and visibility to more options is awesome.

However, for those of us in middle age who find ourselves overwhelmed by the technologies and expectations of our current culture, we have a lived model of what happens when we don’t have the electronic leash hounding us 24/7.

Deeply consider why you are doing what you are doing.

How is what you are doing working for YOU?

It’s one thing if you are driven by an idea and voluntarily hustling to make that idea real. Working in the flow state when time passes without you knowing it.

It’s another to have an entire culture expecting you to move ever-faster and working to channel YOUR flow state into THEIR agenda.

I feel for those who come behind us. We, at least, know a different lived experience.

I’m heartened by a progressively louder conversation around human energy and how the way we are working isn’t sustainable.

Change is going to require personal responsibility around managing your energy.

Re-learning the cycle of growth and rest.

It’s not a technological problem and will not be a technological solution.

We need to figure this out for ourselves in an unsupportive container that keeps preaching the hustle and grind and “ever-increasing energy” and growth at all costs.

For myself, it’s time for me to opt out of “performative workaholism.”

Life is too short.


Thanks to Julie Dirksen and the Nerdy Shop Talk Facebook Group (Closed) for these resources.

Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work, The New York Times (2019)

Palaces in Time: Designing Against Productivity, Sebastian Deterding, MIT Media Lab (2015, 1 hr 15 min video)

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