A fascinating little addendum to our recent post on 20-Somethings appeared in The NY Times this past weekend in the article “The No-Limits Job” which reports on the non-stop professional lives of many young adults in the creative/entertainment industries. For our purposes, while it’s sad how something ostensibly good, like following your dreams/taking a risk job-wise, is being so transparently leveraged for profits, the underlying “law” here has to do with how deeply the performancism has been imbibed by employers and employees alike. There is no separation between work life and social life because there is no separation between who we are and what we do/accomplish. Truth be told, it’s actually a more accurate corollary to Sermon-on-the-Mount Law, in that these employers are demand more than just your time or productivity, they are after your heart as well. Now back to work:

dypn25_picture-119Ironically, millennials, to whom the burden of monitoring late-night social media or e-mail frequently falls, may be underestimating the value of such work. Their habits of consuming culture free of charge on the Internet, he suggested, have “carried over into the world of work, so they’re more willing to accept barter or in-kind payment,” like free lunches. And their primary payment is building “cultural capital,” as opposed to “capital capital.”

In these “rock star” professions, too, notably in the business-casual Silicon Valley, many companies “have tried to break down the homogenizing nightmare of the 1950s,” Mr. Perlin said, replacing cubicles with foosball tables and other dorm-room accouterments to entice employees to stay late bonding with colleagues.

“But we’ve got something more sinister now,” he said. “People are working much more and are convinced to invest themselves body and soul. It tries to make you lose your sense of your workplace versus home: who are your co-workers and who are your friends?”


Children of helicopter parents who have been overscheduled since nursery school might find it especially hard to set professional limits. As part of the generation “that’s been taught to engage in labors of love,” Mr. Perlin said, “it’s led us into these fields, and secondly, it’s encouraged us to knock down that boundary between life and work in the traditional artist mode.”

“You can’t get a job by saying, ‘I just want a job,’ ” he said. “Your heart has to be supposedly in it, and you have to demonstrate that by staying as late as you’re supposed to stay or responding to e-mails at 11 p.m.”