The New Wave of Hustle Culture Is Still Pretty Toxic


July 26, 2023
Read Time: 3 minutes

Hustle culture has consumed us more than we realize



Gone are the days when we glorified working inhumane hours in the name of “keeping yourself busy.” From hearing your friends boast about pulling all-nighters for their jobs and extracurriculars to suddenly getting shamed for a lack of work-life balance, the tables have definitely turned. But as we wave goodbye to the old face of hustle culture, we’re seeing it evolve into a completely new genre of toxicity—and it’s not looking good.



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RELATED: Millennial Work Culture & The Truth of Our Generation 


Maximalistic tendencies on display

Despite the saying “less is more,” we’ve been conditioned to think that more is always more. This “more is more” mindset is precisely what fueled the old hustle culture—the idea that if we worked more and took on more responsibilities, we would essentially become more valuable to the company and, inadvertently, to ourselves. But as we begin to set boundaries to establish self-care routines and strictly shut off work notifications after our 9 to 5, maybe we’ve finally learned how to let go of the “more is more” mentality, right? Wrong. In fact, this very mindset continues to lead the new wave of hustle culture, just packaged differently.


We all know someone who pursues a number of passion projects and hobbies all at the same time. And if you don’t know someone, that person is probably you. Now, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing to pursue our passions, but it becomes a concern when an entire generation begins taking “work-life balance” to extremes. Instead of spending overtime on work, the new hustle culture spreads us thinly, maxing out both ends of the spectrum. Ensuring we’re doing everything possible to achieve peak work-life balance has become the new hyper fixation of this young generation, and taking a peek into everyone’s jampacked Google Calendars is enough to confirm this.



The race to adulthood begins 

What was once a plague for adults now haunts even the youth. The idea of doing nothing between class breaks or during the summer has become an archaic concept. Even college freshmen are already beginning the hunt for internships—yes, internship juggling has become the norm! Whether this behavior is fueled by the barrenness of the pandemic or the slow burn die-out of org culture among several colleges, one thing is clear—everyone’s racing towards adulthood. 


For a generation where posting about a new position on LinkedIn has become the equivalent of a Facebook poke, it’s as if we all can’t catch a break.


For a generation where posting about a new position on LinkedIn has become the equivalent of a Facebook poke, it’s as if we all can’t catch a break. So as new hires get younger and younger, adulthood greets its newcomers much earlier than expected. 


RELATED: Gen Zs in the Workplace: What Do They Really Want?


Will the toxicity ever end?

Even if self-care is all the rage, it’s pretty clear that the idea of downtime and rest still aren’t the center of our priorities. Disguising our maximalist tendencies in the form of revenge passion-hunting and sprinting towards opportunities have become the fresh face of the new hustle that we comfortably label as this generation’s definition of “work-life balance.” But in reality, we’re back to square one—profusely working on our jobs, putting ourselves at a rather pressing pace as everyone seems to be pressuring themselves to thrive faster.



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Maybe it’s about time to reassess what work-life balance means in this new age. Are we really getting the rest we need, or are we feeding into the vicious cycle of toxicity that the new wave of hustle culture has dawned upon us all? I guess we’ll have to wait for (and hope that) hustle culture’s next software update will give us a version 3.0 that's less toxic than this.



Words Vanessa Tiong

Art Macky Arquilla

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