Millennial Burnout


Middle class is usually defined in economic terms as between 66% and 200% of median income.

In the US that translates to about $45k to $130 per household. Add medical and education costs and that’s pretty rough for the US middle class. Socialized medicine and education, at middle class income levels, do make a big, big difference.


“People who gather together talking about work often get into dick measuring contests over how hard they work”

“Maybe we don’t have to work 40 hours in a week”

“Well, you are obviously deficient if you think 40 hours is too much work in a week”



If I suggested less hours a week with pay adjusted accordingly my boss would probably give me a blank stare and wonder if I was joking. If I had a worse boss they’d probably start looking for my replacement. Culturally this conversation is a non-starter in most companies.


There’s another piece to this that we haven’t discussed, which I feel is absolutely part of the whole problem of burnout and feeling crushed under the weight of trying to build a middle-class life, especially for a family, in your 30s:

All of the other responsibilities and things you have to learn and understand in order to not get screwed by one of the many, many perfectly legal ways that everyone is out to take your money.

Want to buy a house? Have fun learning about mortgages and home repair and how to deal with contractors and property taxes and escrow accounts and school districts and zoning laws and HOAs and and and.

Want to someday retire? Better get your budgeting on lock and figure out the differences between an IRA, a Roth IRA, a 401(k), traditional savings, CDs, money market accounts, index funds, interest types, repayment schedules, and the prime rate.

Want to have a functioning human body? Welcome to the land of HDHPs, HMOs, deductibles, out-of-network providers, maximum allowed benefits, and preferred treatments. There will be a quiz. If you fail it, you go bankrupt. No, we’re not going to tell you when it will be or what it will cover.

Want to be a responsible parent? Fuck you.

There are plenty more domains that have similar time/attention/education/stress requirements. These all play massively into general burnout and stress/anxiety levels. We expect everyone to be a financial planner, a real estate broker, an educator, and a handyman. Oh, and a politician if you want to actually understand the myriad ways you’re being fucked on the daily by the government and even understand the strategies to unfuck some of it, much less participate in democracy.

This is all because the system is set up by rich people and useful idiots in the name of “freedom” and “getting the gummint outta mah Medicare.” Rich people can hire a financial planner. They can buy a new house with no problems, and pay professionals to deal with anything that goes wrong. They live in districts with properly funded schools, where their kids can walk to school, stop at the park and run around on the way home, and not get arrested or shot by the police. They run no risk of medical bankruptcy, because their healthcare while still expensive is affordable on a high income and Obama closed a lot of the loopholes that let even well-off people get fucked by the insurers.

And these are just the middle-class traps that we (middle-class people) have a chance of escaping or at least mitigating. If you’re poor, you’re just straight fucked barring truly exceptional luck combined with exceptional attitude/effort/ability. And of course everything is that much shittier if you’re any kind of minority, which just stacks bullshit on top of bullshit.



Eh, ok? I mean, this isn’t the case for me or my employees, but whatever I guess? At this point you’re arguing against something other than a 40 hour work week.

Generally, the extra hours I put in aren’t coming in on Sunday night, to be sure. They’re far more often gonna be coming in during the week to finish stuff up.

Absolutely, I said so explicitly.

Oh sure, for hourly workers.
But for salaried professionals, we’re paid to do a job.

Maybe I’m unique, but my work actually is important to me.


I don’t know anything of you professionally, but when you say “my employees” is that to mean you own your own business or are you in management and are referring to your team? If it’s the former, there’s the likely answer as to why you might be different than others.


I’m not making this point very clear, so epic fail on my part. “Weekends off” mean Saturday day and Saturday night is free. Sunday day is free but Sunday night is not because Sunday night is a work night, meaning going to bed at a reasonable hour to get up early/on time for work on Monday. Ergo the only free day of the week is Saturday.

I envy anyone who has a job that they love, and to be sure there are people who achieve that, but I suspect more people are like me where my job is just a job.

Also see @Adam_B excellent post.


Your phrasing was a little strange but I knew what you meant. :) Saturday is the only day where you can wake up, not go to work, and not have to be preparing for work that evening.


I was assumed that @Timex owned a small business, and so view his ideas through the prism of wringing as much work out of his employees at a minimum cost, while he benefits from the proceed and does “work”.


Thank you! :D


And of course, some of us goes to church Sunday morning, so it’s all fucked up.


That is fucked up, homes ;)


I don’t own the business, but I manage the software development.
But at the same time, I didn’t always. And the engineers on the team, as I mentioned, tend to stick around. We’ve only had a handful of folks leave over the last 17 years. I think the average time with the company for the engineers, baring a bunch of new hires we made in the past few months, is something like 8 or 9 years? So folks aren’t burning out. I think it’s because we’re generally cool to each other, and we try to keep things relaxed. Certainly it’s much lower stress than other corporate environments I’ve encountered, even though we’re definitely doing much harder work.

I remember that at some point, we had some marketing asshole who was really pushing the oldschool Oracle/Corporate mentality of everyone should put in longer hours just because. I pointed out that you can’t wring blood from a stone. At some point, you aren’t getting anything more from hours, because your brain is too tired to do research and engineering tasks.

But 40 hours isn’t at that point.

Sure, but you also said that you never work more than 40 hours.

I think that on some level, I’m just rejecting the idea that anyone who works 40 hours, or doesn’t complain about it, is some kind of sucker who is being tricked into doing what they’re doing. We’re adults. We negotiate our employment with our employers.


This really isn’t true for a large chunk of working Americans. It’s not a negotiation, it’s “take whatever you can get”. This is especially true when our ability to receive healthcare is tied to our employer.

Your recent posts on this subject has made me feel like you’re isolated from the experiences of the typical American employee. You remind me a lot of a really good (libertarian) friend of mine, before he went off the deep end anyway.

That’s not meant as a dig in the least, but I think you’re going to get a lot of people rolling their eyes. I’m in the software field myself, but I had a very long and rocky road to get here. Things are maybe a little closer to what you’ve been describing the past few years, but it sounds like a fairy tale compared to my last 25 years in the labor pool.


It is a fairy tale, and it’s a totally unnecessary one. I spent most of my career working with a lot of Europeans, and their approach to expectations for salaried folks is completely different. They do not work after hours, they do not work on weekends. They do not read their email all weekend or respond to it. As a general rule, employers do not call them or email them after hours or on weekends; or, if they do the latter, they have no expectation of a response until the work week has begun.

I guess there are no real capitalists in Germany, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Finland, Slovenia, the UK, Spain, the Slovak Republic, Italy, Ireland, Hungary, or the Czech Republic, all of whom work fewer hours than Americans do. To say nothing of Canada, Australia, Japan, or New Zealand.


Every part of this post is spot-on. Especially the last point. Very well said.


There are good jobs bad jobs, good bosses bad bosses, good co-workers bad co-workers, always have been always will be, its nothing new. Only you are in control of what you do with your life. If you don’t like your lot in life only you can change it or accept it and embrace what you have. Life’s too short to bitch your way through it.


This is certainly true, but strangely, people are still better off in other OECD countries. It’s almost like there is some other factor, some undefinable, spectral thing which somehow better regulates the depredations of Capital. If only we understood what it was…


That just ignores the entire discussion though - whether or not things are getting better or worse for work/life/money balance. For a whole lot of people things are getting worse over time. This means you can just ignore the problem… right up until you can’t.


I just want to clear something up.
My personal circumstances are fine, my job - also in software - isn’t stressful or even all that hard. But all my posts are meant to convey that as a society/culture, Americans over value work and/or under value free time.

I question the need for the forty hour work week, especially as workers haven’t realized the gains either in income or more free time as “productivity” has risen. One way to address this is to reduce the work week, freeing up time for personal endeavors, one’s family, etc.