Why has performative workaholism become such a huge sensation these days?
There is a growing necessity to outperform our peers and engage in an overwhelming workload under the banner of a renowned corporation. And despite the struggle and stress caused by many desk-jobs, the mere satisfaction of boasting this performance on social media has become something questionable. How did we get here? Where will this hustle culture take us? Let’s look into the world of workaholism that has been undertheorized in our culture.
Many of today’s young adults are less and less likely to practice religious beliefs or follow any form of eclectic being, attend church meetings or read gospels. Nonetheless that does not stop many from finding their own form of worship, which comes in different forms and ideas. I’m talking, of course, about something many would like to call “the cult of workaholism.” Workaholism has consumed the young and ambitious workforce, fuelling a growing cult of optimised performance and compulsory productivity, under the disguise of loving work. Obsessed with striving, staying ambitious, devoid of humour – it’s seems exploitative. With hashtags displayed such as #hustle, #worklifestyle #thankGoditsMondayencourages the obsession with out daily jobs under the disguise of seeking our dreams.And this form of cult or veneration towards work is growing steadily like it has its own form of thoughts and norms. No wonder. The hustle is actively promoted through viral slogans, commercials, even glorified by our favourite movie stars and of course to push ourselves to the max. It is all a reminder of a Soviet Era propaganda that sings hymns for the working class to join arms and serve a certain organisation for their own benefit. Of course the only exception of this is our free market views that anti-capitalist views and glorifies personal wealth. But the hustle for work and greater performance is becoming steadily more demanding where social media beats the drums of this new hustle.
The routine is familiar to many. You wake up early, get your favourite cup of java to reboot the brain into working mode, garb your skin with the fashion that resembles your company’s work ethic and head straight into the confines of an office littered with desks, glaring at several computer screens for hours. In this culture, left for many young people, endurance and affection for work is deemed insufficient. Interns, graduates, young professionals, student workers are expected to love what they do, and then promote that love on social media, thus fusing their identities to that of their employers. The toil glamour is promoted to the generations. Without it, the message remains that working hard is just not mainstream enough. It has to become a norm to pull out 80-hours of work a week otherwise you will fall behind your competitors and never achieve your dreams.
After all, convincing a generation of workers to beaver away is convenient for those at the top of the career chain. The efforts to attract the most talented and loyal employees are meant to continue building the biggest corporate empires out there, while at the same time maintaining a compulsory expression of optimism. Thus the cult of workaholism is something that is openly promoted as a positive message. And many young people fall for this trap, simply because they are desperate to meet their own high expectations in life created by the alluring images of wealth and prosperity given by the very people they work for.
Workaholism can of course be seen as a quality to be appreciated if companies focus on creating a healthy environment. But the hustle that revolves around several company cultures does not agree with the “work smart, not hard” idea and enforces the “productivity” scheme first. Evidently, hard work and persistence at our jobs bears its fruit. Work actually makes us healthier and can give us a sense of meaning in this world where we can socialise, network and of course support ourselves financially. But do longer hours guarantee a better life, especially when it comes at the expense of a burnout? This culture is perhaps the means of fitting in, or fear of being viewed as a slacker or perhaps the need to prove ourselves in the eyes of our colleagues or superiors. Whatever the case, longer hours can kill. It does not necessarily lead to a happier or more fulfilling life in the long run and the only logical endpoint would be depression, loneliness or anxiety. So the story can end in two ways: either there will be a threshold to hours of work within our culture or an outright revolt against the social pressures of workaholism. Nobody wants to grow old thinking: “I wish I could’ve worked more.”