The coronavirus pandemic has prompted millions of people to reassess their working conditions and are no longer willing to tolerate inappropriate behavior from their bosses or the companies they work for. In the United States – where this phenomenon is particularly pronounced, for various reasons – many of these people have come together to express their frustration or to share the announcement of their separation in the “counter work”, one of the channels of the social network Reddit that has especially become in recent months a meeting point and source of inspiration for all those who are not happy with the status of their work and want a radical change in the system.
For several months now, Antiwork has been one of the most successful Reddit channels, attracting millions of people and becoming a small online phenomenon. It has been around since 2010 and before the pandemic it had about 100 thousand members: today it has one million and 250 thousand, many of whom have started using it in recent months. Its success also fits within the context in which several million Americans have left their jobs for various reasons and has become so relevant that newspapers and analysts have started talking about “movement against work“.
Antiwork is a channel on Reddit (also known as a subreddit) where exploited and overworked employees share comments on their work status or screenshots of problematic conversations they have had with their superiors. Some people report being subjected to stressful or low-paid shifts, while others complain of humiliation, bullying, or pressure to work for free, among other things.
Messages exchanged on Antiwork have proliferated both on Twitter and on other major social networks, especially those in which people who say they are stressed by working conditions considered unacceptable share the moment they send everything and everyone to hell, often years later . of malaise. It cannot be ruled out that at least some of these posts are fake: like sum up Effective way slate, there is no way to be sure of their authenticity, “but their authenticity is less important than the sense of catharsis they provide.”
Screenshot of the conversation where an Antiwork channel user decides to quit his job when his manager threatens to fire him, after refusing to go to work on his day off
Doreen Ford, one of the early moderators of the Antiwork Channel, told A slate That “unfortunately” situations in which companies or managers threaten or mistreat their employees happen “frequently”. Ford, 30, ran the channel for 7 years and, in turn, has done a series of jobs in her life that she described as “humiliating,” but said she was amazed at how quickly the channel had grown during the pandemic. Those who attend the forum do not want to complain or simply fight to improve their working conditions, but rather change the system so that they can work less or not at all.
NS Mail which refers to the goals of the group, which defines itself as populated by anarchists and “all kinds of leftists”, “Reforming a broken system still leads to a broken system”: because this counter-work suggests collecting ideas on how to completely abolish capitalism and work as we know it today in our societies.
Despite this tendency, he welcomes many people who do not share her general idea of Ford. One of the most rewarding things is that thanks to the support of other users on the channel, people find the courage to ask for a raise, say no to their bosses or simply quit their jobs, without necessarily continuing to suffer retaliation. , he added.
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US Department of Labor data says last September 4.4 million of Americans have quit their jobs: more than 150,000 from the previous month and 1 million and 130 thousand from September 2020. The reasons can be the most diverse, from the stress of spending the last year and a half at work where one is particularly exposed to potential infections, to the desire to try Doing a job that you prefer or that allows you to change your lifestyle. The The New York Times note That in some cases, government subsidies to cope with the economic crisis may have helped those who decided to change and not work for a while, but this alone is not enough to motivate a person to do so.
Sociologist David Fraine, meet him The New York TimesHe explained that traumatic events generally cause people to reconsider their lives and goals, and in this sense, an event like the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on a large scale. As Kathy Weeks, professor of gender studies at Duke University, points out, the “type of forced separation from work” that has come as a result of the pandemic has given many the opportunity to see their work situation more critically and to see many flaws in the way many work environments operate.
Basically, according to experts, many people believe that not getting a job is better than getting a bad job, and that this new attitude can lead to a major cultural change. In weeks’ words, refusing to return to work, especially in particularly hostile environments, represented “a kind of desire for freedom.”
This concerns different classes of workers, but it is also influenced by the attitude of the so-called people Generation Z, roughly those born between 1997 and 2012, who often approach the world of work with a more relaxed attitude and less oriented towards competitiveness and productivity at any cost, a model for previous generations. This phenomenon was also analyzed by commercial bank Goldman Sachs, which he linked at least in part to the popularity of the Antiwork Channel: According to Goldman Sachs, the tendency to refuse work masks the risk that many people will decide not to work at all for longer periods than usual, with potential repercussions for the country’s economy.
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