It is my honest desire that millennials will study Can’t Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation, Anne Helen Petersen’s new e book about the expert zeitgeist—that is, if they’re not too burned out to do so.
In 9 well-researched chapters, Can’t Even feistily fleshes out Petersen’s viral 2019 BuzzFeed article about millennial burnout. Interviews with a numerous array of millennials and deep analyses of labor history, class and sociology illustrate simply how awful existence has gotten for lots participants of this age group. What changed into called “workaholism” in the Eighties is called “hustle” in the 2020s—and in case you can’t hack it, that’s on you. The end result for too many Americans is insurmountable student debt, an erosion of task security, the upward push of the gig economy, the fetishization of freelance work, an absence of enjoyment time and a trend toward “competitive martyrdom” in parenting.
Woven for the duration of Can’t Even is a pointy critique of boomer parents and employers. White, middle-magnificence boomers mainly inculcated excessive expectancies for the future in their youngsters while tearing down the protection net underneath them. Petersen drives home the factor that our modern problems are not personal but societal—and yet, while a millennial can not afford medical health insurance or a down charge on a house, it’s judged as laziness. No wonder so many people enjoy existence as steady busyness and feel guilt for relaxing. “Burnout . . . Is more than simply an dependancy to work,” she writes. “It’s an alienation from the self, and from desire. If you subtract your potential to work, who're you?”
However, readers don’t want to be in my view burnt out for Can’t Even to resonate. If social media or the gig economy contact your lifestyles in any way, there’s something to bite on here. Fortunately, Petersen doesn’t provide any “hacks” or “tips” to pare back our busy lives. Instead, she advocates for societal self-reflection and an evaluation of our values to spur change: Do we really need to live this way?