Is communication overload making millennials burn out too fast?
13th March 2019
"Being a graduate student, track cyclist, and professional road cyclist can instead feel like I need to time-travel to get everything done. And things still slip through the cracks." - Kelly Catlin in a Blog Post
Kelly Catlin, a world champion cyclist, a silver medalist at Rio Olympics, committed suicide on 11 March 2019, all at an early age of 23. It's so surprising that a young and successful athlete who achieved so much fame, at such an early age died by taking her own life. Going by her recent blog post, the severe pressure of not being able to balance her life could be one reason for her taking such an extreme step.
Kelly's tragic passing away is a refelection on the immense stress the millennials and generation Z, who also make up a large part of the PR business, is feeling to hustle - 24*7 * 365 days. Kelly yearned for time travel in her blog as she wanted more than 24 hrs in a day to balance her life.
This brings us to a key questions. Are the millennials feeling the heat of being hustlers? Are they beginning to burn out? Is the overload of content playing a key role here?
The New York Times, in a recent article, said that the hustle culture “is obsessed with striving.” It's the complete abandonment of finding healthy work-life integration, and instead, defining oneself’s worth, and perhaps one’s entire life, by what is accomplished in the workplace. This, in turn, leads to overwork. And then what’s next? Burnout.
Jeremy Littau, Ph.D., an associate professor of journalism and communication at Lehigh University, comments in an article on the hustle culture in 'Thrive Global' that digital media has changed expectations of how and when we communicate, leading to a renewed acceptance of hustle culture.
He says, "Digital media creates an overall sense of attachment to communication and the idea that you need to be on your devices all the time."
India is the second largest smartphone market in the world, just after China, and 1 out of 10 of the world's smartphones are sold in India. With the lowering of data prices, millennials are further compelled to be perpetually on their devices. The situation gets even worse as being on all social media platforms and mastering their art is seen as a new status symbol. This obession with social media is similar to like running a race, in which participation is mandatory.
In her viral BuzzFeed news essay, cultural critic Anne Helen Petersen realizes she can’t accomplish mundane tasks — managing her emails, registering her dog for a new license, donating books to the library — because she’s burned out. “Why am I burned out?” she writes. “Because I’ve internalized the idea that I should be working all the time. Why have I internalized that idea? Because everything and everyone in my life has reinforced it — explicitly and implicitly — since I was young.”
Social media has created an enviornment where millennials are under constant connectivity, comparison, and ultimately competition. They are constantly on the move. Planning travel, trying to exercise early morning, completing daily errands without failing to post photos on social media, reading news, watching the latest series on Netflix. Hustling has become a way of life for millennials.
Can Millennials escape the hustling syndrome?
The problem with holistic, all-consuming burnout is that there’s no solution to it says Anne Helen Peterson of BuzzFeed. She adds, "You can’t optimize it to make it end faster. You can’t see it coming like a cold. The best way to treat it is to first acknowledge it for what it is.
Jacob Morgan, the best selling author of 'The Employee Experience Advantage', says it’s equally important for all of us to open up about when we are burned out or in need of help. And to set clear boundaries for our time.
So the trick lies in following the art of balancing. What is important is to recharge yourself daily through non-social and smartphone led means.
Apple X last year launched a new feature "Time Limit", that informs users about the time spent on smartphone each day and automatically locks the phone. If the world's most innovative phone manufacturer has read the signals, it's high time the world smartest generation starts implementing the balancing act.
Amit Nanchahal is a social media Influncer and a professional communicator with over 15 years of experience.