This isn’t an easy article to cite, mainly because I want to quote both it and some commentary by Andrew Curry. The original article is paywalled, so I’m going to rely on Curry’s quotations.
I’m particularly interested in this because I’m one of the oldest Millennials (I was born nine days before the end of 1980). There’s something about my generation whereby we’re just not going to take that Boomer shit any more.
It turns out the latest moral panic about work —at least, abut our contemporary idea of work—is being fuelled by ‘The Great Resignation’ in the US, which I wrote about here recently. (‘The four Rs of post-pandemic America.’)
One of the elements of this is that it is Millennials who are disproportionately more likely to quit. One might say, ‘what are these young people thinking of?’, were it not for the fact that the oldest Millennials are 41 this year; half a lifetime in, in other words.
The writer Erin Lowry, who has written multiple books on Millennials, and is a Millennial herself, is having none of it. In a (partly gated) short column in Bloomberg, she suggests instead that the games’s up for the version of work that has been normalised in the last two decades.
Curry quotes Lowry as saying:
After 18 months of pandemic uncertainty altering how we work, it makes sense we’d return to the questions of why we work, and how our jobs affect our quality of life. Is there perhaps another way to earn an income that better aligns with our overall goals? Couldn’t we create a future of no longer using a career as the primary or sole basis of our identity and self-satisfaction? Shouldn’t this be a moment to consider how to work to live instead of live to work?
We can theorize that this burnout comes from the increasingly blurred boundaries between being on and off the clock. From being conditioned to believe that appearing “always available” is the hallmark of a promotable employee. From jobs that once required a high school diploma suddenly demanding a bachelor’s degree, forcing young people to get mired in never-before-seen levels of student loan debt.