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 TGIM. 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.
欢迎来到奋斗文化。它迷恋努力、无尽的积极和幽默的缺失，一旦你注意到它，就不可能逃脱。“Rise and Grind”（起床，奋斗）是耐克(Nike)广告的主题，也是一位《创智赢家》(Shark Tank)创业者的著作标题。新媒体新贵——譬如制作畅销商业新闻电邮、承办系列会议的Hustle，和由奋斗文化守护神加里·沃伊內楚克(Gary Vaynerchuk)创办的内容公司One37pm——并不把野心当作达成目的的手段，而是把它当作一种生活方式。
“The current state of entrepreneurship is bigger than career,” the One37pm “About Us” page states. “It’s ambition, grit and hustle. It’s a live performance that lights up your creativity ... a sweat session that sends your endorphins coursing ... a visionary who expands your way of thinking.” From this point of view, not only does one never stop hustling — one never exits a kind of work rapture, in which the chief purpose of exercising or attending a concert is to get inspiration that leads back to the desk.
Ryan Harwood, the chief executive of One37pm’s parent company, told me that the site’s content is aimed at a younger generation of people who are seeking permission to follow their dreams. “They want to know how to own their moment, at any given moment,” he said.
“Owning one’s moment” is a clever way to rebrand “surviving the rat race.” In the new work culture, enduring or even merely liking one’s job is not enough. Workers should love what they do and then promote that love on social media, thus fusing their identities to that of their employers. Why else would LinkedIn build its own version of Snapchat Stories?
This is toil glamour, and it is going mainstream. Most visibly, WeWork, which investors recently valued at $47 billion, is on its way to becoming the Starbucks of office culture. It has exported its brand of performative workaholism to 27 countries, with 400,000 tenants, including workers from 30 percent of the Global Fortune 500.
In January, WeWork’s founder, Adam Neumann, announced that his startup was rebranding itself as The We Co., to reflect an expansion into residential real estate and education. Describing the shift, Fast Company wrote, “Rather than just renting desks, the company aims to encompass all aspects of people’s lives, in both physical and digital worlds.” The ideal client, one imagines, is someone so enamored of the WeWork office aesthetic — whip-cracking cucumbers and all — that she sleeps in a WeLive apartment, works out at a Rise by We gym and sends her children to a WeGrow school.
今年1月，WeWork的创始人亚当·诺伊曼(Adam Neumann)宣布，他的初创公司将更名为We Co.，以反映其在住房不动产和教育领域的扩张。Fast Company在描述这一转变时写道：“公司的目标不仅是出租办公桌，还包括人们在现实世界和数字世界生活的方方面面。”你可以想象，理想的客户是这样一个人：她迷恋WeWork办公室的美学——刻着激励语的黄瓜之类——睡在WeLive的公寓里，在Rise by We健身房锻炼，把孩子送到WeGrow学校读书。
From this vantage, “Office Space,” the Gen-X slacker paean that came out 20 years ago next month, feels like science fiction from a distant realm. It’s almost impossible to imagine a startup worker bee of today confessing, as protagonist Peter Gibbons does: “It’s not that I’m lazy. It’s that I just don’t care.” Workplace indifference just doesn’t have a socially acceptable hashtag.
从这个角度看，20年前的下个月推出的X世代懒汉赞歌《办公空间》(Office Space)感觉就像是来自遥远国度的科幻小说。几乎不可想象如今的创业公司员工会像主人公彼得·吉本斯(Peter Gibbons)那样坦白：“我不是懒。只是不在乎。”工作场合的冷漠没有一个社会可接受的社媒标签。
It’s not difficult to view hustle culture as a swindle. After all, persuading a generation of workers to beaver away is convenient for those at the top.
“The vast majority of people beating the drums of hustle-mania are not the people doing the actual work,” said David Heinemeier Hansson, the co-founder of Basecamp, a software company. “They’re the managers, financiers and owners.” We spoke in October, as he was promoting his new book, “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work,” about creating healthy company cultures.
“绝大多数鼓吹‘工作狂’的，并不是真正工作的人，”软件公司Basecamp的联合创始人戴维·海涅迈尔·汉森(David Heinemeier Hansson)表示。“他们是经理、金融家和公司所有者。”去年10月，他在宣传自己的新书《不必为工作疯狂》(It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work)时，我们谈到了创建健康的赛车全天人工计划稳定版。
Heinemeier Hansson said that despite data showing long hours improve neither productivity nor creativity, myths about overwork persist because they justify the extreme wealth created for a small group of elite techies. “It’s grim and exploitative,” he said.
Elon Musk, who stands to reap stock compensation upward of $50 billion if his company, Tesla, meets certain performance levels, is a prime example of extolling work by the many that will primarily benefit him. He tweeted in November that there are easier places to work than Tesla, “but nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week.” The correct number of hours “varies per person,” he continued, but is “about 80 sustained, peaking about 100 at times. Pain level increases exponentially above 80.”
Musk, who has more than 24 million Twitter followers, further noted that if you love what you do, “it (mostly) doesn’t feel like work.” Even he had to soften the lie of TGIM with a parenthetical.
For congregants of the Cathedral of Perpetual Hustle, spending time on anything that’s nonwork related has become a reason to feel guilty. Jonathan Crawford, a San Francisco-based entrepreneur, told me that he sacrificed his relationships and gained more than 40 pounds while working on Storenvy, his e-commerce startup. If he socialized, it was at a networking event. If he read, it was a business book. He rarely did anything that didn’t have a “direct ROI,” or return on investment, for his company.
对于“永不止步大教堂”(Cathedral of Perpetual Hustle)的会众而言，在任何非工作相关的事情上花时间都是会感到愧疚的。旧金山创业者约翰逊·克劳福德(Jonathan Crawford)跟我说，在努力创办自己的电商初创企业Storenvy的过程中，他牺牲了自己的感情生活，增重了40多磅。就算有社交也是为了积累人脉。要是看书就是商业书籍。他几乎没做过任何对他的公司没有“直接ROI”——即投资回报——的事情。
Crawford changed his lifestyle after he realized it made him miserable. Now, as an entrepreneur-in-residence at 500 Startups, an investment firm, he tells fellow founders to seek out nonwork-related activities like reading fiction, watching movies or playing games. Somehow this comes off as radical advice. “It’s oddly eye-opening to them because they didn’t realize they saw themselves as a resource to be expended,” Crawford said.
The logical endpoint of excessively avid work is burnout. That is the subject of a recent viral essay by BuzzFeed cultural critic Anne Helen Petersen that thoughtfully addresses one of the incongruities of hustle-mania in the young. Namely: If millennials are supposedly lazy and entitled, how can they also be obsessed with killing it at their jobs?
理论上，过度狂热工作的结果便是倦怠。这正是Buzzfeed文化评论人安妮·海伦·彼得森(Anne Helen Petersen)近期一篇热门文章的主题，文章深刻反思了年轻人热衷奋斗文化的不适宜性。换言之：如果千禧一代真的如人所说是懒惰且养尊处优的一群人，那为什么会对在工作中有出众表现这么上心？
Millennials, Petersen argues, are just desperately striving to meet their own high expectations. An entire generation of students was raised to expect that good grades and extracurricular overachievement would reward them with fulfilling jobs that feed their passions. Instead, they wound up with precarious, meaningless work and a mountain of student loan debt. And so posing as a rise-and-grinder, lusty for Monday mornings, starts to make sense as a defense mechanism.
Most jobs, even most good jobs, are full of pointless drudgery. Most corporations let us down in some way. And yet years after the HBO satire “Silicon Valley” made the vacuous mission statement “making the world a better place” a recurring punch line, many companies still cheerlead the virtues of work with high-minded messaging. For example, Spotify, a company that lets you listen to music, says that its mission is “to unlock the potential of human creativity.” Dropbox, which lets you upload files and stuff, says its purpose is “to unleash the world’s creative energy by designing a more enlightened way of working.”
David Spencer, a professor of economics at Leeds University Business School, says that such posturing by companies, economists and politicians dates at least to the rise of mercantilism in 16th-century Europe. “There has been an ongoing struggle by employers to venerate work in ways that distract from its unappealing features,” he said. But such propaganda can backfire. In 17th-century England, work was lauded as a cure for vice, Spencer said, but the unrewarding truth just drove workers to drink more.
利兹大学商学院(Leeds University Business School)经济学教授戴维·斯宾塞(David Spencer)表示，企业、经济学家和政界人士的这种姿态，至少可以追溯到16世纪欧洲重商主义的兴起。“为了尊奉工作，雇主一直在努力让人不去注意工作令人不快的部分，”他说。但这种宣传有可能适得其反。斯宾塞说，在17世纪的英国，工作被誉为治疗恶习的良方，但让人失望的真相只会令工人们喝更多酒。
Internet companies may have miscalculated in encouraging employees to equate their work with their intrinsic value as human beings. After a long era of basking in positive esteem, the tech industry is experiencing a backlash both broad and fierce, on subjects from monopolistic behavior to spreading disinformation and inciting racial violence. And workers are discovering how much power they wield. In November, some 20,000 Googlers participated in a walkout protesting the company’s handling of sexual abusers. Other company employees shut down an artificial intelligence contract with the Pentagon that could have helped military drones become more lethal.
Heinemeier Hansson cited the employee protests as evidence that millennial workers would eventually revolt against the culture of overwork. “People aren’t going to stand for this,” he said, using an expletive, “or buy the propaganda that eternal bliss lies at monitoring your own bathroom breaks.” He was referring to an interview that Marissa Mayer, the former chief executive of Yahoo, gave in 2016, in which she said that working 130 hours a week was possible “if you’re strategic about when you sleep, when you shower and how often you go to the bathroom.”
Ultimately, workers must decide if they admire or reject this level of devotion. Mayer’s comments were widely panned on social media when the interview ran, but since then, Quora users have eagerly shared their own strategies for mimicking her schedule. Likewise, Musk’s “pain level” tweets drew plenty of critical takes, but they also garnered just as many accolades and requests for jobs.
The grim reality of 2019 is that begging a billionaire for employment via Twitter is not considered embarrassing but a perfectly plausible way to get ahead. On some level, you have to respect the hustlers who see a dismal system and understand that success in it requires total, shameless buy-in. If we’re doomed to toil away until we die, we may as well pretend to like it. Even on Mondays.