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Can't Even: How Millennials Became the…
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Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation (edició 2020)

de Anne Helen Petersen (Autor)

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Títol:Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation
Autors:Anne Helen Petersen (Autor)
Informació:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2020), 304 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Etiquetes:covid-quarantine-2020, nonfiction-2020

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Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation de Anne Helen Petersen

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Anne Helen Petersen (an "old millennial" by her own definition) elucidates the problems millennials face and how our individual solutions to them (work harder, work all the time, make it work) lead to burnout, because it is a societal issue - but IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY.

The current form of free-market capitalism, in which consultants work with companies to figure out how to make the most money the fastest, and in which the stock market is completely divorced from the economy's effect on most workers, has led to a desperate struggle for most millennials, who emerged into the job market just before, during, or just after the Great Recession. People are now responsible for shouldering the (ever more expensive) education and training, and college degrees are no longer a guarantee of a good job and a middle-class life. Government-mandated workplace protections and unions have both been largely stripped of their power, so workers, instead of being in solidarity with each other, compete in a culture of presentism, where it's assumed that whoever works the most works the best. Carrying crushing student debt and financial anxiety, many are delaying or opting not to have children (the U.S., of course, does not provide paid parental leave, and daycare is expensive).

All of this when evidence shows that people are more efficient and effective workers when they work less and rest more. (A few companies, like Trader Joe's and Costco, offer their employees regular schedules and good benefits, but most don't.)

Petersen doesn't offer solutions, except to say that they must be systemic and holistic - in other words, not something individuals can conquer on their own through meditation apps or bullet journaling. We need real change - protection for laborers (including "essential" workers, who are treated as disposable, and unpaid caregivers), The idea that workers - not CEOs and shareholders - should benefit from their own labor should not be so unthinkable.

See also: Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud (same author), Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez, additional book list below


This isn't a personal problem. It's a societal one. (xxvi)

...boomers are, in many ways, responsible for [millennials]... (2)

[in the 1970s]...after decades of prosperity, things in America seemed to be getting markedly worse. (5)

National Labor Relations Act 1935; Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938

Middle class kids become mini-adults earlier and earlier - but as the rise of "adulting" rhetoric makes clear, they're not necessarily prepared for its realities. (33)

When one's value depends on the capacity to work, people who are disabled or elderly, people who cannot labor full-time or who provide care in ways that aren't paid at all or valued as highly - all become "less than" in the larger societal equation....To be valuable in American society is to be able to work. (51)

When students are working, what they're working on is their own ability to work....This is an incredibly utilitarian view of education, implying that the ultimate goal of the system is to mold us into efficient workers, as opposed to preparing us to think, or to be good citizens. (52)

The desirability of "lovable" jobs is part of what makes them so unsustainable: So many people are competing for so few positions that compensation standards can be continuously lowered with little effect. (70)

virtue/capital: wealth = hard work, hard work = wealth (90)

"contingent" labor - the precariat (96)

Does a company run better when its employees are happy and provide a livable income for their families? When its profit margins are larger? (100)

Ultimately, temp work was so thoroughly feminized, and effectively trivialized, that little thought was paid to whether or not it was exploitative. (102)

These work situations [instability, irregular scheduling, lack of benefits] don't just exacerbate burnout, but feel designed to create it. (113)

(~1946-1969) Unions and government regulation forced companies to treat the humans who worked for them as...humans. (113)

This is how precarity becomes the status quo: We convince workers that poor conditions are normal; that rebelling against them is a symbol of generational entitlement; that free-market capitalism is what makes America great... (115)

" individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system." (Jia Tolentino, 128)

The goal of surveillance might be productivity, or quality control - but the psychological effects on workers is substantial. (130)

That's what happens when you don't have options: You have no negotiating power, or power of any sort, at least when it comes to the workplace. (136)

[Over 8.8 million jobs eliminated during the Great Recession...the jobs that returned weren't the same kind as before, but "contingent" or "alternative" or "gig"] (137)

[Freelancing] means complete independence, which in the current capitalist marketplace is another way of saying it means complete insecurity. (139)

The gig economy isn't replacing the traditional economy. It's propping it up in a way that convinces people it's not broken. (144) media robs us of the moments that could counterbalance our distances us from actual turns us into needless erodes what used to be known as leisure time. (164)

Our leisure rarely feels restorative... (182)

In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that his grandchildren would work only fifteen hours a week [due to increased mechanization and automation and resulting productivity]. With abundant time and leisure across the classes, society would flourish. Democratic participation would go would social cohesion, familial bonds, philanthropic and volunteer work. (183)

...the easiest way to signal that you were working harder and were more essential to the company than [other employees] was to work longer....
Even as actual productivity continued to rise, year after year, companies continued to reduce paid time off. (185)

In the modern workplace, it seems that everyone [on a salary] so anxious about proving their value that we neglect a veritable cornucopia of evidence that better work is almost always achieved through less work. (188)

...American society is still arranged as if every family has a caretaker who stays home, even as fewer and fewer families are arranged that way. (209)

...we continue to treat this social issue as a personal issue. More specifically, a mother's issue. (220)

Affordable, universally available childcare...would be revelatory...So why hasn't it happened? ...Men still don't value domestic labor as labor, and men predominate our legislative bodies and the vast majority of our corporations. (240)

The causes are systemic. Which is why the solutions have to be holistic. (241)

Other books/sources mentioned:

Annie Lowrey / The Atlantic:

Emma / The Mental Load / "You Should've Asked":

Jia Tolentino / The New Yorker

Temp by Louis Hyman
The Good Jobs Strategy by Zeynep Ton
The Job by Ellen Ruppel Shell
Free Time by Benjamin Hunnicutt
The Overworked American by Juliet B. Schor
Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam
The Second Shift by Arlie Hochschild
How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg
Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte
All the Rage by Darcy Lockman
Scarcity by Sendhil Mullainathan
The Playdate
Kids These Days by Malcolm Harris ( )
  JennyArch | Jan 18, 2021 |
An attempt at a sweeping scan at the many systems that have stymied the attempt at a balanced life for almost all of the millennial generation. There was plenty that I identified with, including the pressure to work constantly and the bizarrely overpriced but increasingly necessary university degrees, and plenty that is not in my experience, i.e. parenting and being a gig worker. But it was clear that finishing this book and moving it to publication was rushed, and I think it suffered a bit as a result. I would have liked some more in the conclusion that sums up how we "un-fuck" the systems because it is increasingly urgent as younger folks become adults and need to inherit something more promising. ( )
  jonerthon | Jan 3, 2021 |
Although I expected a whining polemic about how tough millennials have it, I was wrong. This serious book presents lays out an intense indictment of our social and political systems and the impact on all of us, while focusing on what has gone so wrong for the young people, who only wanted to achieve what their parents had. The author states that burnout at work and at home are endemic now due to dependence on devices and on unfairly demanding employers. There's intense condemnation of gig work, employer-dependent health insurance, insane college debt, the cost of home ownership, and on the lack of paid parental leave. Refreshingly, an acknowledgement of the even more severe problems for people of color is emphasized.

Quotes: "If you don't think that each of us matter, and not just because of our capacity to work, if you think that's too radical an idea, I don't know how to make you care about other people."

"In essence, the worker committed years of their life to making the company profitable; the company then commits some extra years of its profits to the employee. Before the Great Depression, the American Way was abject insecurity, which is why it can feel so mind-boggling that anyone would willingly return to that American way again."

"I have high career aspirations and my heart still beats to the rhythm of productivity, but I am also so very tired."

"If a child is reared as capital, with the implicit goal of creating a "valuable" asset that will make enough money to obtain or sustain the parents' middle class status, it would make sense that they have internalized that a high salary is the only thing that matters about a job."

"The promise that the free market would fix everything was a persuasive one in the '80s and the '90s, but left to its own devices, capitalism is not benevolent. Most history shows the complete divorce of the best interests of the corporation from the best interests of most employees."

"We've conditioned ourselves to ignore every signal from the body saying "this is too much" and we call that conditioning "grit" or "hustle".

"American society is still arranged as if every family has a caretaker who stays home. Men still don't value domestic labor as labor, and men predominate our legislative bodies and the vast majority of our corporations. They don't treat contemporary parenting - the cost, the burnout - as a problem, no less a crisis, because they cannot, or refuse to, empathize with it. " ( )
  froxgirl | Dec 12, 2020 |
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