by Terry Nguyen
“I don’t have goals. I don’t have ambition. I only want to be attractive.” This apathetic declaration is the start of a TikTok rant that went viral for its blatant message: to reject hard work and indulge in leisure. Thousands of young people have since remixed the sound on the app, providing commentary about their post-college plans, dream jobs, or ideal lifestyles as stay-at-home spouses.
Over the past two years, young millennials and members of Gen Z have created an abundance of memes and pithy commentary about their generational disillusionment toward work. The jokes, which correspond with the rise of anti-work ideology online, range from shallow and shameless (“Rich housewife is the goal”) to candid and pessimistic.
“I don’t want to be a girlboss. I don’t want to hustle,” declared another TikTok user. “I simply want to live my life slowly and lay down in a bed of moss with my lover and enjoy the rest of my existence reading books, creating art, and loving myself and the people in my life.”
….Nobody wants to work in jobs where they are underpaid, underappreciated, and overworked — especially not young people….
Today’s young people are not the first to experience economic hardship, but they are the first to broadcast their struggles in ways that, just a decade ago, might alienate potential employers or be deemed too radical….
Many zoomers entered the workforce during the pandemic-affected economy, amid years of stagnant wages and, more recently, rising inflation. “My dad got a job straight out of high school, saved up, and bought a house in his 20s,” said Anne Dakota, a 21-year-old receptionist from Asheville, North Carolina, who earns minimum wage. “I don’t even think that’s possible for me, at least with the current money I make.”
Naturally, this has major consequences for social attitudes about work — and the viability of performing labor in times of crisis. What sets zoomers apart, according to common narratives, is their determination to be fulfilled and defined by other aspects of life. They expect employers to recognize that and promote policies and benefits that encourage work-life balance…
“I think people are realizing that we just want better for ourselves,” said Jade Carson, 22, a content creator who shares career advice for Gen Z. “I want to be in a role where I can grow professionally and personally. I don’t want to be stressed, depressed, or always waiting to clock out.”