Monday, September 12, 2022

Embracing the Soft Life

The next time someone proclaims the greatness of the American work ethic, remind him of this. American workers are not just quietly quitting. They are not just seeking work life balance. They have become indolent, self-centered narcissistic slugs.

In the past, when people had moral values, they would have called out this new generation for its sloth. Today, we are not allowed to use such words, so Fortune Magazine, of all places, declares these worthless and useless young people as leaders of a movement toward-- American decline. Or, the soft life. Keep in mind, you cannot be a hard ass competitor when you are languishing in your soft life.

Fortune does not quite put it this way. Here is how they put it:

Life has changed a lot in the last two years, and many people are embracing a so-called “soft life”—a rejection of the struggle, stress, and anxiety that comes with working a traditional 9-to-5 career and spinning away your days on life’s hamster wheel. Instead, living the soft life is about throwing yourself into joy, and prioritizing the richness of experiences.

In the early days of the pandemic, LaBeach was at a crossroads and decided it was time to make a dramatic change. After being laid off from his marketing job in New York City in spring 2020, he went to Mexico. He had been earning between $100,000 and $150,000 a year but was stressed, disenchanted, and tired living for something other than himself.

A self-centered, self-absorbed, self-involved loser. If we are to call things by their names. How do you deal with failure? Well, Dar LaBeach followed his bliss, not to mention his name, and declared that he was too good for the job. He went to the beach.

If you are self-important, chock full of unearned self-esteem, you cover your failure by saying that there are more important things in life than work. In particular, softness, enchantment, joy and whatever. The word that is missing in the Fortune story is-- decadence. The other missing concept-- the inability to deal with failure.

In short, sloth. A mixture of laziness and incompetence. Note that young LaBeach was offering himself up as a supreme narcissist, concerned only for his own decadent pleasures, unable to gain any satisfaction from a job well done.

In our decadent world most people do not get it that they can feel satisfied when they succeed at their job. In LaBeach’s case, one assumes that he did not feel any satisfaction for doing a good job because he did not do a good job. If he got fired, perhaps the reason was-- ineptitude and incompetence.

He’s like many Americans who used the pandemic as an opportunity to disrupt their lives. The collective trauma of this worldwide tragedy allowed some to pump the breaks, turn into the skid and realize that perhaps there was something more important in their lives than the stressing over whether they were living for their job hard enough.

Quiet quitting—the internet’s favorite workforce term of the moment—its distant cousin, lying flat, and soft life, have all popped up as symptoms of a shift away from the traditional expectations of what it looks like to be successful in America. Living a soft life doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a job, it just means your job is not your whole world.

For LaBeach, embracing the soft life has meant becoming a staunch anticapitalist, he says. When he moved to Mexico City, he got involved in mutual aid. He says in connecting with his community there he’s come to understand “a lot of Black people are moving to Mexico City without realizing we’re gentrifiers.”

So, lacking loyalty to the country, lacking loyalty to the company, people like LaBeach reject capitalism, and that means, repudiating what Max Weber called the Protestant [work] ethic. Thus, they find it more congenial to work in a nation where capitalism has not yet taken hold, and where their indolent sloth is a way of life. That is, in Mexico!

As for competing in the world economy or even in the clash of civilizations, the people who prefer the soft life do not care. It’s all about them. It's all about their own petty joys. It’s not about anyone but them. The pandemic taught them the virtues of narcissism.

Naturally, there’s a racial angle. It might be that diversity hiring does not always work out well. It might be that blacks are alienated from the nation. It might be that the constant attacks on the nation, its flag, its history, from people like Black Lives Matter protesters, has broken the connection some black people feel for their nation and for their companies.

So, perhaps the story behind this story, and behind this rush for the corporate exits, has to do with a generation of young people who feel no loyalty to their nation, who lack patriotism, who despise a culture that does not promote them for doing substandard work. 

They want to do the minimum to get by. In truth, not a few countries in the West, beginning perhaps with Mexico, have made quiet quitting and softness a way of life. And then they wonder why their citizens are so hellbent on invading America. 

Sloth is a deadly sin. No matter how good it feels. There will be a reckoning some day, and it is not going to be pretty. America does not have a very bright future if its vaunted work ethic is replaced by a new sloth ethic that values narcissistic pleasures to the satisfaction that comes from a job well done and the satisfaction they experience when they are part of a successful collective enterprise.


Anonymous said...

“pump the breaks”.
Boy, Fortune has really gone downhill!

B. said...

The author is a grifter, too.

Skontaktuj siÄ™ z autorem said...

Soft people and strong people.. Maybe something about Ukraine?

Anonymous said...

Some of them. Most are out there working so their taxes will pay of other people's student loans.

David Foster said...

Mexico? The people I see who are immigrants from Latin America are mostly hard-working and some of them have started restaurants or other small businesses. Maybe those who emigrate aren't a good sample of people in a country, but is there really a good reason to believe that the average resident of Mexico and of countries south are any lazier than average Americans?

Stuart Schneiderman said...

What is the per capita GDP in Mexico, or in Guatemala?

Wraith said...

There is another perspective on the situation, and there are some pretty good points made.

In response to the quiet quitting concept, many people are saying it is simply an updated term for slackers who mail it in. I’m not so sure about that.

I have seen the “quiet quitting” trend among several highly motivated people in my professional circles, especially those who work for major corporations. These are people who have unflinchingly worked late and on weekends throughout their careers, proudly buying their company’s products, and evangelizing on behalf of their employer. At least they used to.

From one of these employees who is “throttling back,” and who is suddenly content to remain behind in her tasks rather than work overtime to catch up, came this line, “I am remaining just as loyal to this company as our executives are.”

Wootah said...

A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty will come to you like a thief in the night.

David Foster said...


"What is the per capita GDP in Mexico, or in Guatemala?"

Bad government can negate the contributions even of hard-working and talented individuals. What were the per capita GDPs of Russia, Italy, and various East European countries during the wave of immigration to the US in the early 1900s? A lot of people were able to use their talents and work ethics here who would have been locked into position in those other countries.

IamDevo said...

Some observations. First, it does seem accurate to believe that persons who migrate may actually be the more diligent, creative and industrious of any given set of humans. The success of immigrants from Europe to America (and concomitant improvement of American society) beginning with the colonial period through the earlier decades of the twentieth century supports this theory. The theory was, however given the bum's rush once the communists in our federal government decided to increase both the influx from third world countries and simultaneously increase the welfare benefits available, thus encouraging migration of people who come, not to work but to sponge off the system. Second, the implementation of "affirmative action" (i.e., government-sanctioned invidious discrimination) discourages better-qualified white males from competing for positions, since they are acutely aware that their merits will not prevail against the color of his competitor's skin or her sexuality (or now, sexual perversion). Thus, another disincentive to strive for excellence impedes our social progress. Just like under formal communism, where it is who one knows not what one knows, we see the outworking of application of "social justice." Such a system is designed to ultimately fail. We are living in such a time, so we are probably, to borrow a phrase from John Derbyshire, "doomed."

Stuart Schneiderman said...

A while back Joel Kotkin wrote a book called Tribes. In it he examined the transnational tribes, like Anglo-Saxons, Chinese, Indians and Jews, and their relative economic successes in different countries. He discovered that people who do well in one place do well in other places. People who do poorly in one place do poorly in other places. David Foster is being much too optimistic if he thinks that the immigrants from Guatemala are going to compete effectively against immigrants from Shanghai or Mumbai. Besides, for those who care about such things, what are the average IQs in those places?

IamDevo said...

Stuart, I think it is implicit in my first observation that higher IQ was one of the identifiers of the successful European immigration cohort. But I didn't want to be pigeonholed as one of those nasty "biodiversity" types. Or a "racist." I'm sure you understand.