“Nothing I ever did was good enough. They just wanted to string me along with empty promises that I could get somewhere. I honestly felt like they just wanted me to never get promotions or pay me what I’m worth.”
This is one of the comments in the subreddit r/antiwork. Described as “a temple of anti-capitalism,” r/antiwork may seem like a place where employees come to moan about their jobs. However, the subreddit that counts over 960,000 people is bringing an important topic to light — there is more to life besides living from paycheck to paycheck.
The power of disappointment
The thing with COVID is that it traumatized us for two years, so we hoped something good would come out of it. It had to, right? If you look at the past, the renaissance came after every war, revolution, or pandemic.
This hope of renaissance also included work. As we worked from home with poor internet, house chores, and kids hanging around our small (kitchen) desks, we had high hopes that things would get better when we went back to “normal”:
Our bosses will appreciate us more because they realized how close everything was to falling apart. We’ll have more time to spend with our families. Work-life balance will flourish. Remote flexibility will be the new normal.
None of this happened.
As vaccines did their magic, most employees returned to their offices. Not only did everything stay the same, but in some ways, it became worse.
The power of exhaustion
As a result of working stressed at home and then going back to stress in the office, an unprecedented level of burnout led many people to think again about what they can do actually to make a change.
In April 2022, millions of Americans quit their jobs because they had enough. Consequently, the Great Resignation led to a labor shortage crisis but also to approximately one million people sharing their horrible experiences with capitalism in r/antiwork.
Besides the conversations between bosses and employees that display the amount of unfairness that happens to workers in all industries, the subreddit also encourages open discussions about salaries, unfair wage gaps, and the need for work-life balance. In some ways, it teaches workers how to protect their physical and mental health in a society that keeps exploiting labor by saying: “This too will end.”
The power of the internet
The next logical question is whether this subreddit or, for that matter, the internet, has the power to change things. Will discussions about taxing the rich and organizing trade unions actually spark the much-awaited revolution in how we work and think?
Can a discussion about everything that’s wrong with capitalism begin a more inspiring discussion about the other ways to earn money and build a better life in the post-COVID era? Because if we say no to the hustle a la Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos, a few important questions still remain: what do we want instead and how do we plan to get there?