Kill the Hustle-Bro in Your Head


Yesterday, I was scrolling Threads (yes, it’s still around), and I found this quote that I think captures everything wrong with our work culture in the U.S. (shared by journalist Taylor Lorenz). Your classic creator-economy-hustle-culture-bro type writes it:

“I’m sure this will piss off certain people, but: You don’t ‘need’ a weekend. The concept is barely 100 years old. It’s a modern invention. What you really need is work you don’t need a weekend from. You’d be amazed how much faster you get to your goals when you don’t go backwards 104 days per year. Contrary to what the mediocre masses will tell you — weekends can also be for work.”

It’s undeniable that the so-called “creator economy” uniquely suffers from this hustle culture mentality. I won’t name names, but many creators brag about working 14-16 hour days and not taking vacations. It’s a weird badge of honor to prove their dedication to “making it” in a competitive field. Even when they do “make it,” for some reason, many wealthy creators choose not to rest — whether it be a result of poor planning or an addiction to the internet/work (Remember when millionaire MrBeast said he was “dying mentally” because he had been filming every single day and hadn’t taken a break for eight months?) 

Of course, there’s the issue of general wellbeing and burnout. Many creators who used to work 12+ hour days have spoken out against hustle culture, saying, “I’m not gonna die on the internet for you!” Health is frequently neglected in this industry. You wanna know what one creator told me was one of the biggest unspoken issues facing creators today? Amphetamines. 


But even if you don’t care about health and are just thinking about things from a “fuck it we ball” standpoint, for a long time now, it’s been observed that the relationship between hours worked and productivity is not endlessly linear — for every extra hour you work, your productivity goes down. Errors, injuries, and low job satisfaction have all been observed to worsen when working longer hours. 

In the U.S., it took decades of labor organizing to win things like the five-day work week and eight-hour work days. According to National Geographic, in 1922, Henry Ford was the first to institute a large-scale 40-hour workweek experiment, closing his factories on Saturdays and Sundays. Not only were workers a lot happier under this arrangement, but Ford noticed his factories had the same level of productivity despite people working fewer hours. 

Americans are undoubtedly still overworked and underpaid (don’t even get me started on all the unpaid labor parents and women, in particular, have to do). But by and large, our culture has changed for the better, and most people in the U.S. report that they work under 9-hour days. Hell, many companies in the U.S. are even embracing a four-day workweek, observing that workers get just as much done with the right strategies. 

The tiny little hustle-bro that we see on our screens, living deep in the back of our brains, starts to kick in when creators become their own bosses. Most creators, of course, aren’t MrBeast. They don’t have financial freedom. Their incomes are unpredictable. It’s undeniable that a missed post could stand between being able to pay your bills and not being able to. But still, there are a lot of output myths that exist for creators — pedaled by marketers and hustle culture influencers trying to sell you courses on how to “hack the algorithm.” And these ideas can really get out of control

Namely, there’s this persistent bug in our ears that says if you don’t keep up the constant content hamster wheel and post multiple (high-quality) pieces of content a day, your algorithmic reach is going to tank. It’s definitely true that posting consistently boosts your content on most platforms, but it isn’t like you’re going to lose all your viewership from missing a day or two. And self-imposing 1920s working conditions isn’t the solution. You can repurpose old content. Ask your community for support. This is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Yet, because of these pressures, we find ourselves commodifying our work, trying to squeeze out every last drop of profit from our bodies (much of which goes to social media platforms and advertisers anyway, not creators). That commodification alienates us from the art of creation, the joy of sharing our art with others, and the meaning of artistic community. 

There’s this phrase “kill the cop in your head” that keeps sticking with me this week. This phrase has its roots in a long history of political organizing and activism, particularly related to police brutality. But I’ve heard it used in many organizing contexts, including on topics of labor. 

Everyone in this world has little bosses screaming at us inside our heads, dictating our every move and filling us with anxiety. My point is, if we can say shut up to this random hustle bro with a bad take on Threads, we might have a better shot at saying shut up to the tiny version of him we’ve internalized inside our brains.

I know a lot of people can’t afford to take time off this year (if you need some tips, check out our guide here on how to plan for a break, or here for how to repurpose old content). But at least for a moment, I hope you can put that little hustle bro in your brain in a box and toss him into a cozy Christmas fire.


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We’re all a little tired of hearing about expelled congressman George Santos’ recent stint as an influencer, but…c’mon. This is gold. He was truly born to be petty on the internet. 

(Bonus: This “Scamfluencers” podcast episode on Santos is great, too)

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