Just as most were ready to slip into a well-deserved weekend one Saturday morning earlier this month, someone on Twitter decided to drop an “unpopular opinion” that blew up to become a raging debate surrounding something most of us consider sacred: the weekend.
In a now-viral tweet posted on June 12, California-based venture capitalist and start-up builder Jordan Kong said that the best thing young people can do for their careers is to work on weekends.
In a Twitter thread, Kong said that “only quitters quit” and seemed to justify the hustle she chose in the past.
She recalled getting pre-diabetes while working over 90 hours a week in her early 20s, and how she suffered “stress-induced IBS” while working on her first start-up.
But in a following tweet, Kong said that she “wouldn’t trade any of it because the work has brought me tremendous joy and happiness.”
She said that working weekends was how she was able to “earn opportunities that were typically reserved for white guys who went to Harvard and Stanford and not an introverted, short, nerdy Asian female.”
In personal essays, some immigrants have previously spoken about how they are expected to work twice as hard to get the same benefits as locals. Many have long embraced a “the hustle never stops attitude” similar to Kong’s.
It’s what Elon Musk swore by when he said that “no one ever changed the world on 40 hours a week” in 2018. It’s what billionaire entrepreneur Ryan Selkis encouraged when he said in a now-deleted tweet from 2020 that “if you don’t work nights and weekends in your 20s, you’re not going to have a successful career.”
But in 2021, many are also now over this mentality.
Though Kong’s advice had its share of supporters, it was largely met with criticism. The post has been retweeted over 18,000 times, with many advising against celebrating work as the ultimate virtue. People called Kong out for encouraging an attitude that is leading to mass burnouts, identity crises, and loss of motivation.
Like most things on the internet, the issue has since snowballed into a meme. Now, people are sharing “unpopular opinions” about “the best thing a young person can do” with humorous twists.
For many, the Twitter conversation was an important reminder to stop romanticising the notion that overworking is crucial for professional success.
According to a Harvard Business Review report, the system is built in a way where, more often than not, it’s the higher ups in a company who will reap the rewards of an employee’s efforts.
Work from home practices brought by the pandemic have blurred the lines between office hours and down time, creating an “always on” situation that became debilitating and draining for many.
The pandemic also exposed the inefficiencies of toxic hustle culture and steered important conversations around prioritising physical and mental health.
Even the World Health Organization acknowledged that long working hours were leading to increasing deaths from heart diseases and strokes, based on research conducted in 2016.
Some Twitter reactors have acknowledged that it’s a privilege to not have to juggle multiple jobs and slog long hours due to financial inequality. Others have pointed out that as an immigrant kid, Kong’s statements are fairly well-meaning and encourage young Asians to ace the system by playing into it.
But if the Twitter reactions are any indication, many young people are just done with people telling them what to do with their time.