I love this article about, variously, work-life balance, the future of work, quiet quitting, and the ridiculousness of Silicon Valley culture. To be honest, I feel very fortunate to not have to put up with any of this bullshit in my day-to-day work.
[T]he future of white-collar work has morphed from an advertiser-friendly thought exercise to an existential question with a daily subset of moral riddles: Is that an illicit midday nap, or is it just work-life balance? Is it really the end of work friends, or is it just that a defensive herd mentality is no longer crucial to getting through the day? Is it worse to work on vacation, or to have a little vacation at work? Is the delivery bot lost in the woods, or is he finally free?
I’d love to be flip and just say that, at this point in planetary decline, anyone who’s a little too interested in emails and Google Docs basically counts as a try-hard, but there’s a specific category of salaryfolk and company leadership provoking a justifiable kind of scorn. The professional try-hard I’m talking about is someone who, in the year 2022, still earnestly and performatively buys into the white-collar hustle and prides themselves on it. You know this person. They’re a cross between a teacher’s pet and a supply-room narc; if they’re not already a manager, they certainly aim to be one day. While everyone else got with the program that trying hard at work—against a political and national backdrop that feels like daily, endless crisis—is ridiculous, or worse, meaningless, these guys (it’s not exclusively a male thing, of course, but I’m not not being gendered on purpose) haven’t quite gotten with the program.
What’s clear—and what’s behind the reason that professional try-hards are flailing so fantastically—is that the very concept of corporate competence itself has become a joke. The ideals that white-collar striving is built upon have started to crumble: Imagine believing in true “innovation” in a world where Meta, formerly the most exciting company on earth, is reduced to hitting copy and paste. Imagine still buying into the corporate ladder in any sector where performance evaluations might be rife with racial disparities, or where the executives have essentially admitted on the stand that their entire industry is just a game of roulette. Imagine having faith at all in any idea of “corporate good” when the guy celebrated for years as the “one moral CEO in America” is now the subject of a rape investigation (that CEO has denied the allegations). Just last month, Adam Neumann, the disgraced WeWork founder whose implosion was so well-documented that it got turned into prestige television, reportedly received a $350 million second chance for pretty much the same idea he rode to ruin last time.
Imagine, in other words, believing anyone in charge knows what they’re doing. But okay, sure, sic the productivity-management software on everyone else to make sure we’re not online shopping a touch too much.