“Quiet Quitting”? *stares in Generation X*

A little while back, my friend asked me if I’d heard about this thing called “Quiet Quitting” on TikTok. I admittedly don’t get caught up in the TikTok scroll and rarely click “Like” on many videos, so the platform has a hard time serving up content to me.

We chatted a little bit about it because I incredulously said, “So they’re just literally clocking in, doing their jobs, and clocking out. But that is somehow now a trend?”

Yes, apparently going to work, doing exactly what your job asks of you and nothing more beyond that is suddenly a revolutionary epiphany for the youth.

You know… capitalism did a number on folks: they think have to do the absolute most at their jobs, they’ve had their work-life balance stolen from them and capitalism gave them back nothing, nada.

Many of us were raised with a “strong work ethic,” sure. I go into work, do the best job I can do, and leave at the end of the day. Whether it was working at a grocery store, a fast food restaurant, a call center or now in IT. At the least, you show up on time, do what you were hired to do, and then you get to go home. It’s our part of the exchange we make for being paid by the company.

I have zero evidence to support this, but it feels like the dot-com and start up era in tech started to produce companies that coasted on the promise of more, than the actual payment of same. Which makes sense when you’re 5 or 6 people trying to work as hard as you can to get an idea off the ground, you’re putting everything you have into it.

But once a company is an established entity, its employees shouldn’t be working for what may happen. They shouldn’t feel like they need to work longer days, take work home, be on call (when they don’t have an on-call job). There should never be a “come in, close the door, have a seat” meeting with management about how it feels like you don’t want to succeed because you aren’t putting in extra unpaid work.

The only one who benefits from that mindset is the company. They won’t put, “if you do more work, you’ll get more” in writing, instead it’s slight reassurances here and there that your hard work is very appreciated and then they give you $50 gift card as an “On the Spot Reward”.

I let it suck me in too, but the first time I got a score of “meets expectations” on a performance review when I know I had been busting my ass, totally caught up in the hustle mentality, only to be told “meets”? That felt like a slap in the face, especially to my “gifted child / Virgo / perfectionist” self. (I wonder if all the way back to grade school when they tell us so much about our “potential” starts to feed into this mindset.)

Composite image with office and productivity clip art surrounding the words Performance Evaluation with an arrow indicator pointing upwards to the right.

I said to myself, “Very well, I will do nothing more than meet expectations as noted in my job description from here on.” AKA the bare minimum, because that’s what I’m paid for. I have a good job, but I’m more or less a grunt. I’m not a manager, I don’t have a listed position of leadership. My company should give me a salary increase if they can afford it, but beyond that, they shouldn’t expect blood, sweat or tears from me.

It feels like we made a small stop at Work-Life Balance Junction, but then sped right along past that to Give It Your All City.

The main awful thing about this is that people went to TikTok of all places to turn the concept into a trend for their content instead of doing what you’d normally do and just talking with their friends in more protected spaces about it. It’s something you grumble about over happy hour or coffee. You don’t post it online for the one Boomer in HR to get sent by their niece on Facebook and they suddenly add it to a PowerPoint and spawn a million think pieces.

A huge shout out, however, to the companies and industries that are actually investigating this as a job and employee satisfaction issue instead of throwing their hands up in the air wondering why people just don’t want to work.

As a last thought, if I may grouse in “neglected Generation X” for a moment: You kids today act like you invented this shit. The dissatisfied, disaffected, disenfranchised, overlooked, overworked, and underpaid time-card punching members of Generation X bite our thumbs at thee. 😒

Expanded on from this short Twitter thread.

👀 As seen on:

And, uh… I was interviewed by Wall Street Journal about it. (No, seriously, what?!)

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1 Response

  1. Jennifer K says:

    $50 gift card? You’re lucky. I got a $10 gift card and a cheap phone charger with the company logo that doesn’t work.

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