The Antiworking Class Philosophy


Since the pandemic struck, the “antiwork” movement has gained traction. More and more people are fed up with corporate America and the idea of a traditional 9—5 job, something which is easily seen in the drastic increase in subscribers for the “antiwork” subreddit. Leading this new wave of change is none other than Generation Z. As they wrap up their education and enter the workforce, Gen Z is making clear to the world that they do not agree with current mainstream labor practices. 

​​The thread unveils stories, anecdotes and screenshots of discussions between unscrupulous bosses and their overworked employees that show a pattern of poor treatment and toxic or threatening conduct. Employees have shared stories of losing maternity leave or working overtime without adequate compensation; others share that their paychecks are severely shortchanged. 

I have had my own experiences with poor working conditions, making these subreddit examples especially eye-opening and disturbing at times. As a minor, I was often forced to work much longer than my scheduled shift without any breaks for food or water, and requesting time off was simply never an option. My personal work history has led me to understand and agree with the merit behind the “antiwork” movement and the need for this movement to be taken seriously.

Beyond raising awareness around these unacceptable work conditions, the “antiwork” subreddit also offers a new way to deal with these challenges. By grouping all of these like-minded people together online, change is able to brew. Just this past week, a thread on the subreddit was created in order to boycott Black Friday, arguably the most important retail holiday of the year. Without adequate staffing, companies could face a serious hit.

Events like this boycott create much needed change. There are far too many people who suffer from their jobs. With this newfound community, employees have the opportunity to show their bosses and the companies they work for that they will not tolerate subpar work environments any longer. The right number and careful execution of peaceful demonstrations, blackouts and boycotts will only strengthen the antiwork movement. If members of this subreddit and fellow sympathizers of the cause band together, it is certainly possible to abolish current unethical working practices.

However, where I tend to disagree with the majority of the “antiwork” reddit subscribers is when they insinuate that life should be entirely without work. As much as I agree that the practices of many workplace leaders are an abuse of power, simply quitting your job is not a solution to the larger problem. 

If the current labor shortage continues and people are not interested in filling positions, empty jobs will be filled by others who are more motivated by the promise of a paycheck. Using this movement as a way to explore the possibility of more fair business practices and better rights for workers is essential.

The antiwork debate is a sign that our priorities within the work-life balance of our culture have been in the wrong place for a long time. As a society, we portray hard work and business success as the pinnacle of achievement, praising those who are dedicated to their careers and the accumulation of material goods and money over those who are dedicated to their families, passions or hobbies. Conversely, we have demonized people for pursuing their passions and putting their self-interest before a seemingly more respectable job. 

It is worth mentioning that those who do advocate for themselves and are able to see the injustices in their workplaces, like these subreddit subscribers, largely do so from a privileged perspective. Many other people in the world are taken advantage of in the same or worse ways every day at their job and remain incapable of standing up for themselves. However, I do not believe that this makes the current “antiwork” movement any less credible. 

If this movement matures in the right way, it presents the working class with the chance to choose jobs that value them as individuals while also paving the way for those who are in less fortunate situations to have that same chance for ethical, rewarding work. 

Carolyn Branigan, FCRH ’24, is a film and television and English major from Tinton Falls, N.J.