It’s a tale as old as time: You can’t sleep on a Tuesday night, you’re rotting your brain on TikTok and a name appears in your mind. A girl you totally forgot about. A girl you went to high school with. A girl who is as forgettable as any contestant from this year’s The Apprentice. It’s 3AM – why not track down her Instagram? And, just as you suspected, her feed is full of Khloe Kardashian-esque inspirational quotes.
The difference between your schoolmate and Khloe K is one thing – she makes millions from flogging jeans and hair vitamins while the rest of us feel rich making anything more than ten quid an hour. I doubt anyone from the Kardashian-Jenner clan has carried a note lower than a fifty in years but still, Kylie is on YouTube telling us money isn’t everything, which is easy to say when you’re the world’s youngest self-made billionaire I guess.
But the Jenners of the world are far from the worst culprits in spreading faux-motivational drivel (while ignoring their own privilege.) I mean, Molly-Mae is right there. Instead, the most irritating part of hustle culture comes in the form of the boring gal you forgot about from sixth form who works full time, shags the gym and also runs a wax melt MLM company that sells scents nicked from Lush’s best selling smells.
This Zillennial Capitalist has the same 24 hours in a day as Beyonce, except she doesn’t have a cleaner, nanny, driver, beauty squad, stylist, security or stacks in her Halifax account. She has the same 24 hours in a day as Molly-Mae Hague, except she doesn’t have a Prada coat, boxer boyfriend, house in Cheshire or a job at PrettyLittleThing.
What she does have, however, is an explicitly endless stream of cliché Times New Roman on marble background Instagram posts to share. “Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever” is liked by everyone in her spin class. “Don’t work for money, work for freedom” has been shared by her boyfriend who would probably be an incel if they hadn’t been together since 2010.
This guy represents the red-pilled Zillennial Capitalist. He only earns 35k a year but inexplicably argues against taxing the mega rich. He regularly tweets that Elon Musk is the GOAT and recently retweeted Steven Bartlett’s tweet that calling out Molly-Mae is misogynistic. This is the only time he’s admitted that misogyny is real. Equality already exists, because women and men have the same 24 hours in a day, right babe?
These people make you long for the day calling someone a jobsworth was an insult. Now these young yuppies call working 24/7 – whether it’s working their nine-to-five or building their social media presence – “the grind”.
They’re the ones asking you to “jump on a quick Zoom” at 4:30pm on a Friday when you’ve already had one and a half wines. They’ve linked out to whichever side hustle they are prioritising in their email signature. “You could charge so much for that!” they enthuse when you show them a pic of the gloves your nan knitted for your niece. They think you’re a freak because you don’t want to spend your spare time flogging the outcome of your hobbies.
But what is the end goal of the Zillennial Capitalist, who, in their mid 20s, can fall in between millennial and Gen Z but would rather self-define as a “girlboss” or a “crypto bro” than anything else? To be the next Jeff Bezos, but without the 300k investment from your parents. To be Elle Darby before those tweets were unearthed, or even after, because monetising an apology video makes absolute bank, too. More realistically, the life dream for these young yuppies is the ultimate scam job: a landlord. Even better to be the scammy live-in landlord going viral on TikTok for getting their roommates (or partners) to pay their mortgage and subsidise their lifestyle. It’s not about being unethical – it’s about hustling smarter, not harder!
It takes a certain level of ignorance to think that capitalism works. It comes from a place of ignoring class, racial or gender privilege to genuinely believe that the more effort you put into a job, the more you can get out of it. If there’s anything about these yuppies that is true, it’s that they’re fucking gullible.
Of course, millionaires and billionaires are going to tell you all it takes to become them is working hard. They’re not exactly going to admit to exploiting people for profit, because otherwise they’d be straight under the guillotine. Their biggest and best con isn’t tweeting to drive up stock prices, selling overpriced lip gloss or getting employees to piss in bottles rather than take a toilet break. It’s convincing the most boring people on your Facebook feed that waking up at 5AM to go to the gym before work will make them rich, too.