What Are Your Thoughts on ‘Hustle Culture’?

What Are Your Thoughts on ‘Hustle Culture’?

Here at The Learning Network, when we ask students about life as a student, we often hear about the fatigue and stress caused by school. Students tell us about the pressure they feel to perform academically while keeping up with extracurricular activities, volunteer commitments and other obligations while also cultivating meaningful experiences, fostering friendships and managing to get enough sleep in the process.

Does any of that resonate with you? Do you think the need to “hustle harder” is real, or is it being perpetuated by those who see hard work as a lifestyle choice?

In “Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?” Erin Griffith investigates hustle culture in the workplace, particularly among young people. She writes:

Never once at the start of my workweek — not in my morning coffee shop line; not in my crowded subway commute; not as I begin my bottomless inbox slog — have I paused, looked to the heavens and whispered: #ThankGodIt’sMonday.

Apparently, that makes me a traitor to my generation. I learned this during a series of recent visits to WeWork locations in New York, where the throw pillows implore busy tenants to “Do what you love.” Neon signs demand they “Hustle harder,” and murals spread the gospel of T.G.I.M. Even the cucumbers in WeWork’s water coolers have an agenda. “Don’t stop when you’re tired,” someone recently carved into the floating vegetables’ flesh. “Stop when you are done.” Kool-Aid drinking metaphors are rarely this literal.

Welcome to hustle culture. It is obsessed with striving, relentlessly positive, devoid of humor, and — once you notice it — impossible to escape. “Rise and Grind” is both the theme of a Nike ad campaign and the title of a book by a “Shark Tank” shark. New media upstarts like the Hustle, which produces a popular business newsletter and conference series, and One37pm, a content company created by the patron saint of hustling, Gary Vaynerchuk, glorify ambition not as a means to an end, but as a lifestyle.

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

— What, if anything, do you find appealing about “hustle culture,” as described in the article? Does anything surprise you? If so, what?

— Can you draw any parallels between your experiences in school and the workplaces you read about in the article?

— What do you think about messages like “do what you love” and “don’t stop when you are tired; stop when you are done”? What are some possible advantages and disadvantages to taking such messages to heart?

— The article posits some theories about why “performative workaholism” became a “lifestyle.” Do you think any of them are valid? Explain.

— Do you think that when you start your career, you’ll be enthusiastic about working long hours? Why or why not?

— Do you find the article to be critical of people who believe “the work itself is all”? What, if anything, is inherently wrong with finding a high degree of meaning in one’s job?

— What advice do you have for people in workplaces where there are disparate views on what constitutes “hard work?”

Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.