Hustle Culture Is the Ugly Beast Destroying Your Working Life

Why LinkedIn is becoming the worst of social media


Max Phillips

2 years ago | 4 min read

The other day, I saw a Linkedin post that went something like this:

‘If I could have $1,000,000 now or $50 every month, I’d choose the $50 every time.

Passive income.’

Of course, it quickly became a meme, as Twitter users acknowledged its utter ludicrousy. But, as is the case with Linkedin and hustle culture in general, it’s hard to know if the original post is a joke or not.

Capitalism, fuelled by Linkedin and social media, has this ridiculous culture that encourages you to take radical steps to consider yourself a success. If you don’t, you’re a failure.

The internet, in general, is filled with unhelpful success stories and ludicrous suggestions on how to make something of yourself. The Pitt News sums it up nicely:

“Did you know that Newton discovered the theory of gravity while in quarantine? Shakespeare himself wrote “King Lear” while stuck inside during a plague! So-and-so author, so-and-so artist, created their magnum opus while facing exactly what you are now!”

Cooped up indoors because of a pandemic? Why aren’t you using this time to launch a new business? Write a play! Why not? You’ve got the time.

I, for one, find that completely baffling.

Sometimes progress isn’t just work-related

As I’m so determined to ensure I don’t fail, monetary success has shaped my writing identity. As a result, it slowly took away the enjoyment I take from crafting a new article. I needed to rediscover why I fell in love with the process in the first place.

So, I spoke to some extremely helpful writers. One of them, 

Emily Wilcox, told me:

“We just have to remember that with or without visible results, the progress is enough.”

I realized writing — my ‘hustle’ — wasn’t everything. It didn’t determine my progress. So instead, I’ve spent most of June focusing on having fun with my friends, and it’s been the most enjoyable month in a long time.

Your job title won’t be on your gravestone. It isn’t everything.

Passive income isn’t the be-all-and-end-all

These days, it seems frowned upon if you don’t have a side hustle that creates passive income, as is apparent with the above meme.

My friend 

Eva Keiffenheim wrote a superb article highlighting the pitfalls of such a mindset. While making money as you sleep seems ideal, Eva outlines the potential pitfalls of such a mindset:

“Optimizing for passive income is like taking a consultancy job. You take it because of the promises that await you after you made it. But taking any job is not about what you’ll get as a result. It’s about who you become on the way.

Chasing after passive income is just another way for delaying the most important question: How do you want to spend your life?”

Yes, earning money is vitally important, but it isn’t everything. Hustle culture and the quest for passive income ignores the vitally important question Eva asks: How do you want to spend your life?

Do you want to spend your life squeezing money out of every single talent you have? Or do you want to enjoy your skills for what they are?

The dangers of monetizing your talents

I encountered this problem nine months after I started earning money for my leading talent — writing.

After a particularly successful month, the following period was a letdown. Earnings weren’t as high, and I became dejected. Every sentence I wrote didn’t feel good enough because my writing wasn’t earning enough.

My self-worth had become my net worth.

Social media sites such as Linkedin celebrate people who make lots of money every month, perhaps even more so when it’s a side hustle. But, as Eva again says:

“When you seek external confirmation, you lose sight of what really matters.”

When you have a talent, you likely enjoy it because you’re good. That should be enough.

Sometimes it pays to chase the feeling, not the money.

Social media creates monsters

It’s more than okay to brag about your achievements on social media. It makes us feel good when others praise us for the hard work we’ve done. I’ve done it myself.

But this has an unwanted effect.

In a writing Facebook group, someone asked, ‘Why don’t people respond and become unavailable after becoming famous?’

This was in response to one of my writer friend’s not replying to his message.

There are likely many reasons for this question. One of those is he has likely seen my friend posting her successes on social media now and then, so he believes he is entitled to a piece of the pie.

The world doesn’t work that way.

Just because others have hustled their way to success, that doesn’t mean you’re entitled to anything. They’re likely busy, hence why you might not get a reply. It’s bold to assume you would in the first place.

Hustle culture has ingrained this “if they can do it, why can’t I?” mentality on some people. However, everyone is different, so what might work for others might be a disaster for you.

Sometimes, ‘hustling’ just means existing

During the coronavirus lockdowns, pretty much all I had to focus on was my work. Of course, I was locked indoors, so it’s no real surprise I eventually had a great few months.

But, times change.

June was rough for me outside of writing, so I spent most of my energy attempting to get back to normal. I quickly realized something.

Life is one long hustle. You don’t need to shout it from the rooftops, and you don’t need to claim you’ll take $50 a month instead of $1,000,000 right now just because society views passive income as the principal vehicle of success.

So, even though you haven’t reached the heights of ‘inspirational’ Linkedin post number 708, it doesn’t mean you’re not a success.

Work isn’t everything. It never should be.


Created by

Max Phillips







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