There are communities that nearly every human can join on most social media apps. There are queer communities, religious communities, MBTI communities, astrology communities, conservative and moderate and liberal communities, weed communities, film and television communities and so on.
Why not add one more to the list, such as Reddit’s antiwork community? The antiwork movement on Reddit has gained momentum in the past two years after the initial surge of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while r/antiwork has been active since 2013, the arrival of newcomers has sparked a cultural clash between the long-time idlers.
From a more personal, outside perspective, I didn’t quite see the logic behind a movement that advocates “unemployment for all, not just the rich!” It just didn’t seem plausible in any shape or form, until I learned that the antiwork subreddit has traditionally been a place for people from all over the world to blow off steam, vent about crappy bosses, ask and receive support for leaving their jobs or just share memes.
Ever so recently, with 4.5 million Americans leaving their jobs this past November, it seems the antiwork movement is becoming popular with many individuals. What people seem to initially believe about the r/antiwork group is that it mainly consists of far-left anarchists and Marxists who never want to work a day in their lives again. While this may be true to some extent, as newcomers seem to lean that way on the spectrum, many of the older members want something to be clarified.
The general purpose of the antiwork subreddit isn’t to dismantle the system that fundamentally makes up a prosperous economy but rather root out the needless and tiresome “responsibilities” of many jobs in the United States. Take it from the r/antiwork moderator Doreen Ford who says that she was working a mind-numbingly painful job in retail five years ago until she was encouraged to work in a field where she could be content and thrive.
Ford’s passion was dogs, so she decided to become a part-time dog walker in Boston, where she is in better spirits than half a decade ago. The point is to essentially reject the traditional nine-to-five job and exploitative employers. “Idlers,” as Ford would be described, are people who still work in society while putting forth the absolute minimum necessary to survive. The goal is not to live to work, but rather to sort-of work to live.
It makes complete sense as to why the working class of the United States would find this ridiculous: Many have responsibilities such as families, bills, debt, unexpected emergencies and everything else in life that costs a pretty penny. However, Doreen Ford and the many like her have a way of making their kind of lifestyle work. Still, it’s afforded to a limited population.
In theory, I think the concept of never working or barely working sounds great. But what happens when no one wants to become a surgeon or educator, jobs that are crucial for civilization to keep on the way that it does? Might I add that while some jobs are totally unnecessary, jobs such as transportation, manufacturing and farming need to be filled for life to keep rolling.
If all people just decided to work part-time or whenever they wanted, what then? It’s a very intriguing discussion to be had because theoretically speaking, everyone in society could just up and stop working. Still, I would imagine the economy and civil society would take a turn for the worse. Moreover, who will provide vital supplies? The government? Is being spoon-fed something people truly want, or does it just sound nice on a piece of paper?
Though the newfound popularity of r/antiwork coincides with the Great Resignation, the sentiments expressed by the subreddit may encourage companies and employers to treat their employees with more respect, pay and benefits if they want people to continue to work. Let’s be honest: There are a lot of jobs that do not require a 40-hour, five-days-a-week kind of schedule, as recent reports claim that many people can get the same amount of work finished in a four-day workweek.
If companies focus on humans’ needs to take a break from the daily chore called work, businesses would see improved morale and fewer complaints, especially if workers’ needs are met right from the get-go.
With that in mind, there will always be people who work more than others and those who work less than others; it all boils down to individual lifestyles, commitments and aspirations.
The r/antiwork slogan “Antiwork: Unemployment for all, not just the rich!” ultimately serves as a reminder that the desire to work as little as possible is a far-fetched dream when reality knocks at the door. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to live that lifestyle, but cheers to those who can.