In Brief

How ‘hustle porn’ puts tech workers’ health at risk

Glorification of long work house has become a dangerous trait, Reddit co-founder warns

The glorification of long working hours, known in America as “hustle porn”, has become a dangerous trait among tech employees that is putting people’s mental and physical health at risk, the co-founder of Reddit has warned.

Speaking at the annual Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon, Alexis Ohanian blamed tech start-ups and companies in Silicon Valley for the fetishisation of long working hours.

“Hustle porn is one of the most toxic, dangerous things in the tech industry right now. And I know so much of it comes from the States. It is this idea that unless you are suffering, unless you are grinding, unless you are working every hour of every day and posting about it on Instagram, you're not working hard enough,” he told the gathering of tech entrepreneurs and startup founders.

Writing on Medium earlier this year in a post titled Zero Lives Remaining, Ohanian said: “As entrepreneurs, we are all so busy 'crushing it' that physical, let alone mental health, is an afterthought for most founders.”

But in word of warning he urged people to “take care of yourself because you're not getting uploaded to the cloud anytime soon. And when things do get hard, which they will, you especially need to prioritise your well-being.”

“But can you really die from overwork?” asks the BBC: “Or is it just a case of old age and undiagnosed medical conditions?”

Ohanian's stark warning comes amid a growing awareness about the health impacts of a 24/7 work ethos. Earlier this year, data released by CV-Library found that almost half of Irish workers feel that elements of their work have made them feel anxious or depressed.

A separate study published in an American Association for Cancer Research journal found that long-term night shift work among women increased the risk of cancer by 19%. Meanwhile, Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer believes the workplace is the fifth-leading cause of death in the US – ahead of Alzheimer’s and kidney disease.

SiliconRepublic says “there has even been pushback in recent years against top tech companies offering perks such as free dinners in the evening, with many accusing such temptations as a ruse to keep employees working longer hours”.

Many in the West are looking nervously towards Asia, where the number of employees literally working themselves to death has skyrocketed in recent years.

Several countries including China and Japan, which officially recognised death by overwork as a social issue in 1987 following a strong of high-flying executive deaths, have specific words to describe the phenomenon and a recent white paper of found that as many as one in five employees were at risk.

Last month South Korea became the latest county to introduce new legislation aimed at curbing excessive working hours and helping employees strike a better work-life balance.

However, a similar law introduced by Tokyo several years ago has been largely ineffective, with work-related deaths continuing to exceed 1,000 a year. 

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