Social Media and the Normalization of Hustle Culture

The term “hustle culture” often reminds our generation of the ironically motivational social media content from which it originates. A mass amount of cloned Instagram accounts regurgitate the same Elon Musk quotes about working 100 hour work weeks to start his businesses, all hoping to convince their audience that hard work will give them all the success and status they want in life (and even reverse their baldness, apparently).

Social media platforms also recommend and popularize hustle culture influencers such as Gary Vaynerchuk, an ad agency entrepreneur whose motivational content has garnered millions of followers on Instagram. Vaynerchuk is known for creating several posts per day at minimum, which coincidentally encourage entrepreneurial young people and aspiring content creators to create as much social media content as possible in order to increase their reach. However, this encouragement of “grinding” for the sake of repetition and “working when everyone else is asleep” has been criticized for its ability to toxify one’s work. It even led the creator of the following video to liken the hustle culture dogma of Vaynerchuk’s content to the influence of addiction-enabling friends that made it difficult to end his previous drug abuse.

Social media algorithms have normalized this hustle culture mentality amongst young people, which has visibly manifested itself in the career choices of our generation. While a post-graduate stint in investment banking has been the choice of many college students willing to sacrifice extremely long hours (often upwards of 80-100 hours per week) for the sake of high earnings, the online finance forum reveals the influence of hustle culture on young students. The forum began as a way for finance professionals and aspiring graduates to discuss and ask for advice, but has slowly shown how early students are starting to feel the pressure to throw themselves into such a career that they know little about. Hustle culture’s toxic and normalized interpretation of “working when everyone else is sleeping or partying” can be seen as high schoolers now post on the forum, anxious to start their careers before even enjoying the freedom of their youth. Dozens of such threads have begun to populate the forum, as seen below.

As the generation that has seen the normalization of hustle culture enters the workforce, young professionals are showing increasingly more signs of unhealthy associations with working hours and perceived success. Mental health has become an increasingly prevalent issue in this community, which is mostly populated by students and young graduates no more than 1-4 years out of school. The unhealthy reality of this work culture normalization has really only received wider attention during the pandemic, with the constant and on-call nature of work-from-home working hours surfacing in the mental health of overworked young professionals. In addition to the links below, the finance community has even seen this unhealthy work culture acceptance in college-aged interns, such as in both 2013 and 2018 examples of interns allegedly suffering seizures and fatal health issues due to long working hours (please see: and

(Please see the following WSO threads that pertain to this matter – trigger warning for sensitive mental health topics / events: and

As we have seen in the cases of social media, TV shows, and more, the digital age has come to glamorize and extract sensationalism from the toxicity of extreme behavior. Sacrificing the joys of life and even one’s health for the sake of career advancement or monetary gain has become acceptable as algorithms mask hustle culture, deliver it to our generation in the unassuming package that is social media, and embed it in our society as a virtue.

3 thoughts on “Social Media and the Normalization of Hustle Culture

  1. I really liked the article. I’m constantly bombarded by messages of hustle culture to the point that I often feel a little guilty when I have free time since it’s been ingrained in me that every hour of the day should be dedicated to getting ahead. It’s taking a while, but I’m slowly rewiring myself. I like that you addressed how youngsters are getting involved in it too. While social media has a big influence on the way teens think, I think it’s also important to acknowledge just how much our college system influences this toxic behavior too. I know that when I was looking at higher ranking universities I found myself in the depths of r/A2C and r/ReverseChanceMe, and it’s just so easy to get sucked into (the amount of time I spent on these sites is a little akin to addiction) a culture that tells you to work, work, work even if that means you have to sacrifice so much. I think it’s important that these problems are addressed so that kids can learn to enjoy themselves and prioritize what matters before they get the juice squeezed out of them in the real world.


    1. I like this comment and I think it’s interesting that you mention reddit threads pertaining to university admissions given that I was considering analyzing College Confidential alongside WSO. I think the same concept is present – each respective forum is populated by young users who feel pressured to push themselves toward a certain standard of achievement, but to an unhealthy extent that was impressed upon them. While this impression can often be from parents in the case of college admissions, I think that being consistently told by one’s parents to get into a good school is somewhat relevant to being consistently persuaded to work nonstop every time one opens up social media.


  2. I love this blog, and I agree with Mayoandrice that it is so easy to get sucked into hustle culture because almost everyone is doing it. When you see all the things on social media or you hear all of your peers doing this and that and this, it’s so easy to feel like you aren’t doing enough. I was having a conversation with a friend today and she mentioned how she wasn’t doing enough to change the world, and how she wasn’t rich yet. I had to remind her we are still so young and have so much life to live. It really put into perspective how many young adults feel like we aren’t doing enough, or that we’re behind because we don’t own multi-million dollar companies. It all leads back to social media and how much of a negative effect it can have on people’s social media. I wonder when this destructive cycle will end and people can enjoy the time where they’re at instead of always looking towards the next thing.


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