A viral video by TikToker @emily.the.recruiter about working to live versus living to work sparked a debate about work ethics, capitalism and priorities.
@emily.the.recruiter #stitch with @luluhasfun I’m SO busy with this video. Our passion does not have to be capitalism!! #careertok #careertips #9to5life ♬ Original sound – Emily Durham
Creator Emily Durham, who works as a recruiter in Toronto and shares a mix of career advice, life updates and sketches about her dating life on her account, stitched a video of another TikToker, Lucy (@luluhasfun).
In her original video, Lucy talks about her struggle to find a career to pursue when she couldn’t think of a single job she would actually enjoy. “How am I supposed to find something that I actually want to do for the rest of my life if I don’t like a job,” she says.
@luluhasfun Give me job suggestions because work is actually terrible😊 #joblife #worklife #algorithm ♬ Original sound – Lucy🌸
Lucy’s sentiment, which resonated with many people.
“I just want to be paid for existing,” commented one viewer.
The conventional response to such feelings is to shame the speaker for his perceived lack of work ethic and commitment to capitalist goals until he either pretends he has reformed and found a dream job, or at least remains silent. While Durham genuinely loves her job as a recruiter herself, she had a different approach — one that’s growing in popularity with Millennials and Gen Z;
“You choose a job that you can handle, that pays the bills, and you don’t make that the focus of your life,” she says in the video.
Adds Durham, “Your full-time job is doing things that make you happy, and this job is only there to help you pay for it.”
In a comment below the video, she encouraged viewers to “create joy in other places” rather than their workplace.
Like Lucy’s original video, Emily’s manifesto resonated with many people.
“I’m so glad someone said that. Work isn’t your passion, it’s a paycheck. They use that paycheck for travel and hobbies,” commented one viewer.
“Yes! I love my job – it pays the bills and has a pension and benefits. It’s not a passion but it lets me do the things I love and I’m fine with that,” wrote another.
Others, however, raised an important point. When work takes up all your time—after all, 40 hours a week plus transit is a lot—how can you avoid making it the focus of your life? Especially when at the end of the day there isn’t enough money left over to really enjoy yourself because it’s only being used for basic necessities.
“But the job is 40 hour weeks and doesn’t leave you time to do the things you really love lol!” wrote one user.
“So much easier said than done with 40 hour work weeks and 2 days off per week, my dreams push those boundaries,” said another.
This led to all the usual bootstrap-style debates, with many urging these viewers to “get a better job.” Some have chosen to ignore the material reality for many people, as well as the fact that many of these low-wage jobs are essential to a functioning society.
“How about you stop being lazy and learn a skill that pays more? It’s 2022! If you have a computer and internet, you can make money,” argued one viewer.
“Find a job with a better salary. Easier said than done, but a lot of people make terrible decisions in this area,” said another viewer.
Durham decided to make a follow-up video advising her followers on how to reclaim their off-clock life, even when work keeps time minimal.
@emily.the.recruiter reply to @aliceshooter let’s talk #capitalism #4dayworkweek #careerok #9to5life ♬ Original sound – Emily Durham
She began with a disclaimer that she won’t address how “capitalism made us fail” with the 40-hour workweek and acknowledging her own privilege of having a job she loves with a fair amount downtime .
Durham encouraged viewers to maintain a boundary between work and your life outside of it. She explains that she refused to even think about work when she had jobs she had hated in the past. Stressing the importance of this mental shift, she notes that she would maximize her free time by going straight from work to something she enjoys. While it’s not a solution that’s consumed by work and commuting all the time, she says it has allowed her to get a lot more out of life outside of her job, which most commentators agreed was a start.
The Daily Dot contacted both @luluhasfun and @emily.the.recruiter for the story via TikTok comment.
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*Initial publication: May 23, 2022 1:42 pm CDT
Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org
https://www.dailydot.com/irl/work-life-capitalism-debate/ TikToker says work should only be bearable, sparking debate