Warning: This post has a few swear words.
I saw this tweet on Saturday:
Obviously, I couldn’t not respond. What would Twitter be without people arguing with anonymous strangers whose minds they can’t change?
So I replied:
“I don’t need an excuse. Just don’t wanna. I make plenty and have a good saving rate. My mental health is finally in a good place, and I have no compunction about not straining it in the pursuit of money I don’t need.”
Sick of productivity porn
There are so many people on Twitter/in blogs crowing about their vast array of side hustles. Which… good for them, I suppose, even if their frenetic life pace makes me tired to even contemplate.
Seriously, I’d be perfectly happy for them — if a goodly chunk of them didn’t then proceed to sneer at/crap on people who aren’t diversifying their income or who choose not to hustle.
Of course multiple streams of income are probably a good idea. But not all of us have the time/energy for that.
As most of you know, I have chronic fatigue. Other folks have families they’d like to spend time with. Or they may just be tired from their main jobs.
I don’t want to start a podcast. I don’t want to write another book. And I definitely don’t want to go to thrift stores for items to flip or go to a bunch of restaurants as a delivery driver while Arizona is the national COVID hotspot.
Side hustling their side hustles
And naturally, the majority of these folks tweeting about their constant productivity have courses or books about how to emulate their success. Problem: An awful lot of these “experts” are awfully new.
For example, a Twitter user last year mentioned that someone who had been asking him basic investing questions in early 2020 had, by the fall, changed his bio to call himself an “investing guru” and of course had created a course so we could learn from him.
At this point, “Buy my Gumroad course/book” has become a running joke in PF Twitter because a ton of newer Twitter folks have that in their bio.
My favorite is a guy who’d been on Twitter for four months and had 4,000 followers, thus his bio said he was “on track” to reach 12,000 followers in a year — so we should buy his Gumroad course about gaining a Twitter following. Yes, 4,000 people in four months is impressive — though I doubt his engagement reflected that number — but wooooow.
Different goals, different activities
I understand that a lot of these folks are shooting for FIRE and will be able to stop working decades sooner than I will. But that life isn’t for/possible for everyone, and looking down on people’s alleged lack of productivity toward goals that may not even be of interest to them… Well, that’s a pretty crappy attitude.
So no, I don’t need an excuse to not want to start a new side hustle or to pretend to be an expert in something to be able to brag about the thousands I’m making on the side.*
It is absolutely my right to sit on my ass, playing on social media and/or watching TV, rather than fuss with sound quality for a podcast/looking presentable for YouTube, worrying about how often I say “um” and figuring out how the hell to gain followers in a saturated market. And while it’s technically your right to judge me for it, doing so means that you think your way is the only way and your goals are the only worthwhile ones — which kinda makes you an arrogant jerk.
*Funnily enough, they always talk about income, but never net profit, since by the “thousands of dollars” mark, they’ve usually hired help with writing or video editing or social media engagement or whatever.
No need to justify
Incidentally, I only saw that condescending tweet because someone retweeted it with the reply “It’s a pandemic and I have two toddlers and I’m tired all of the time.”
This is a very valid and understandable response. But again, I don’t think we need to explain ourselves at all. I replied:
“To this type of shit I say: I’m a childless, single person in a pandemic, so I absolutely have the time and maybe even the energy, but fuck you — I’m merrily using both to watch TV and be snarky on Twitter.”
And I will stand by this til my dying day.
Speaking of TV…
A couple of weeks ago, I saw yet another tweet crapping on people who watch a lot of TV. According to the tweet, the average American watches around five hours of TV a day. Gasp!
A lot of people replied in horror. They talked about how ridiculous it was. Of course, quite a few mentioned all the squandered potential for productivity.
So I ended up doing a rant thread. It’s what we folks wasting our time with TV and Twitter do.
First of all, something I forgot to mention in my tweet rant: Watching TV is a wonderfully frugal activity. So is reading, of course, if you buy used books or use the library. But there’s nothing wrong with TV either.
Second, not all of us can be constantly productive. My chronic fatigue sometimes limits my options. And there are people with far more debilitating issues (or cases of fatigue) than I have.
But more importantly, even if you’re healthy, you don’t need to be constantly super productive. There is, I said in the tweet thread, value in chilling the fuck out.
Y’all make me tired
Maybe it’s just the fatigue, but the idea of living your life in a constant slew of hustles just strikes me as exhausting.
These people are working so hard for that money — usually with an eye toward FIRE — that they end up constantly trying to be productive/wring every potential profit out of life. All so that they can, as the FIRE community likes to say, “buy their time back.” Which, okay, cool have fun with that but… I’m just gonna enjoy my time now.
Look, I absolutely see the value in wanting to be retired young enough that you (probably) don’t have any health issues that would keep you from enjoying that time.
But these peopleseem to assume that illness/disability won’t hit until they’re closer to or past retirement age. The fact is that one in four Americans gets a disability before that point.
A potentially very different future
So what if you work your ass off for years — giving up all sorts of small pleasures — to retire young , only to end up getting sick or disabled shortly afterward?
On the one hand, yes, you’re then lucky to not have to worry about the financial implications of your new inability to work. But on the other, you just wasted your healthy years living uncomfortably, never really going out and enjoying life.
Some disabilities mean it’s difficult to go out much, due to pain/fatigue/immobility or just basic accommodation issues. Or it may even be too dangerous to spend much time around people (especially in public) due to a compromised immune system. And that’s your life for the long haul.
Meanwhile, you spent most of the waking hours of your healthy years hustling your hiney off, and probably foregoing some fun nights out — all with an eye toward future travel, leisure time or quality time with friends/family that now may not be possible.
I’d much rather do the occasional bar-hopping with friends (where I overpay painfully for (delicious) bar specialty drinks) or spend too much on Ubering to/from dates or my friend Kevin’s always-fun house parties than live only for the future. As long as I can save enough for older Abby, I’d prefer to make sure I’m enjoying my present to the fullest extent.
Folks, there’s a reason the Fioneers Slow FI model has become so popular. You need to live at least somewhat in the present — a present that doesn’t consist of only extreme frugality moves (if they’re not necessary for financial survival) — because your future may look very different from what you’re imagining.
A little too familiar
I think part of what rubs me the wrong way about this constant-hustle culture is that it reminds me a smidge too much of teen me.
See, I was frantically busy throughout high school.
At 14, I had honors classes and did school plays. At 15, I added Drama Debate Forensics (the “forensics” meant speeches, not CSI stuff). At 16, I worked full-time during the summer, and during the school year I worked one weekday afternoon/evening plus both weekend days — on top of the two extracurriculars plus at least two A.P. classes and at least one honors class. Oh, and the occasional volunteer work for honor society, of course.
The summers that I was 17 and 18, I worked full-time at a movie theater and then part-time at Red Robin. At least three days a week, I’d work 12- to 13-hour days. Some weeks I never got a full day off.
If you had asked me, I’d have said that I was saving/bulking up my resume for college, that I enjoyed the drama stuff and just generally that I liked to keep busy.
But the reality was that I had to stay occupied. It was the only way to avoid thinking about my situation: what I now know was unmedicated bipolar II disorder and an emotionally abusive father, who had convinced me that I was the problem.
So yeah, basically I had to stay so buys that I didn’t have time for Deep Thoughts.
Being present in the present
To be clear, I’m not saying that everyone entrenched in the hustle culture is avoiding examining their life or that they’re trying to escape dealing with unhappiness. I’m sure plenty of them are well-adjusted and just have too much energy for me to ever want to talk to them. (Joking… mostly.)
But what many years of therapy and finally getting a much-needed divorce have taught me is that there is value to being present in your life rather than living for the future. Especially because, as I learned far too young, the future may not look the way you expected.
If you spend every waking moment working toward your goal, you may miss a good chunk of your youth. If you’re lucky, you’ll have the great time you planned for once you hit your goals. But what if, once you reach those goals, things don’t look the way you imagined?
You can only do so much
Also, everyone — even the hustlers — have limits, and once you hit capacity…
Well, I tried so hard for so long to work despite my fatigue that, when I finally stopped, there was a month where I slept 11 to 13 hours a night, would be up for two to three hours and then would take a two- to four-hour nap, yet I was still barely able to leave the house.
Trust me when I say you don’t want to hit that wall. It’s not worth earning any amount of extra money, unless that money is the only way you can survive financially in the present.
So yes, people, chilling the fuck out is highly valuable, and I recommend it heartily. Even if it means retiring a couple to few years later. Heck, even if it means a slightly slower debt repayment.
Constantly hustling is exhausting and draining — and generally it’s just not really a good or healthy way to live if you can help it. Especially when you consider that you may be wasting some of the best years of your life working toward a future that may not come to pass.
So stop trying to monetize your hobbies or jump on the latest money-making platforms. Just try to make sure you have time in your day that isn’t devoted to making money. Take a walk, read, look at funny Tweets/TikTok videos, video call friends or (heaven forfend) watch a bunch of TV.
Your future self — hell, even your present self — will thank you.
Anyone here constantly hustling? Anyone here exhausted by all the productivity porn?