Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Social media puts Botswana’s hustle culture on steroids

If you are looking for a parade of the most dramatic chest beating, you cannot do better than social media. This is a platform where humility goes top die as facebookers try to outdo each other in puffing themselves up. “ On Facebook and Instagram, we see people boasting about their successes. We notice all the approval and praise this generates and we start to yearn for the same”, says

Dr Poloko Ntshwarang, senior Social Work lecturer at the University of Botswana. She believes this is what is driving Botswana’s burgeoning hustle culture. “Social media is certainly helping to drive this attitude towards work. After all, social media can make us feel that we are never doing enough or good enough. On Facebook and Instagram, we see people boasting about their successes. We notice all the approval and praise this generates and we start to yearn for the same. On social media platforms, we are constantly flooded with news about career achievements and fruitful business ventures. We don’t tend to get updated about failing businesses, job rejection, underemployment, or unemployment; nor do we hear about the psychological impact involved in the success stories. Social media encourages us to curate a ‘perfect’ (culturally-influenced) image of ourselves. This puts a lot of pressure on young people to live up to unrealistic standards. Striving to become an entrepreneur and follow your passions is admirable. However, hustle culture is taking a serious toll on the physical and mental health of many entrepreneurs. “

The hustle culture she is describing is an unforgiving phenomenon with unrealistic expectations, often supported and reinforced through social media.

Social media can be isolating to many who are constantly flooded with other’s best moments . This is a major issue with hustle culture. It demands you persist, regardless of whether you have already hit your point of exhaustion. Seeing a heavily filtered version of someone else’s career has given many people unrealistic expectations of what they should be achieving. There’s a feeling of having to accomplish so much so quickly. The belief that work should be at the centre of your identity and purpose in life – on social media has also led to a constant striving to do more, to work harder. Hustle culture means you can’t just work and enjoy working; you have to push an 18-hour day and post about it on Instagram. The pressure to perform, the expectation set on oneself has caused burnout for many. There is more and more pressure to post about your work on social media, which can be draining. Those in creative industries often treat their social media accounts as virtual CVs and feel that everything they post – including what they do in their leisure time – has to be relevant to their career.

Dr Sophie Moagi, clinical psychologist in Gaborone says, “While some are “people-pleasers”, many others derive satisfaction through their work. They are continuously reinforced by the satisfaction that their jobs give, so they are drawn to that and less towards their personal lives. Factors like competitive nature, and self-pressure as over-achieving has unfortunately become trending and fashionable. It becomes hard to take a break because accomplishing small tasks can become addictive. Blurring the lines between professional and personal lives can cause burnouts, not just at work, but also in other aspects of life like not being able to eat, or not being able to feel happy even when good things are happening. Prioritising work over families can cause relationship problems, which eventually pushes an individual to focus more on work, in a cycle.”

The current state of entrepreneurship is bigger than career. It is ambition, grit and hustle. It is a live performance that lights up your creativity, a sweat session that sends your endorphins coursing. From this point of view, not only does one never stop hustling — one never exits a kind of work rapture, in which the main purpose of exercising or attending a concert is to get inspiration that leads back to the desk. For ‘hustlers’, over-working and maximum productivity throughout the day are the only paths to success. This had seen a generation of young adults willing to sacrifice weekends, sleep, and meal times to start their own ‘side hustles’ and take up gigs, as opposed to traditional 9 to 5 jobs.

Motivational videos, public speakers, influencers, and even celebrities perpetuate the idea that to achieve your goals, you have to work incredibly hard, dedicating as much of your time, energy, and resources into working as you possibly could.

Entrepreneurship is glamorized on social media. To the outsider, they appear to make quick money from their endeavours, but social media paints an overly rosy portrait of the true entrepreneurial experience, which is often pretty unrewarding. Almost half of entrepreneurs struggle with mental health and the true number is likely much higher. Social media places undue pressure on people to become self-made by pursuing their passion. Hustle culture justifies burnout. It creates an atmosphere in which work-life balance loses all meaning. Work becomes life. Many millennials feel starved of meaning, lacking purpose, and desperate for some sense of identity that can ground them.

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