Why Americans Are Obsessed With Working All The Time

As American society progressed and gave way to hierarchies that included roles like managers, the cultural adoption of "workism" grew, which has essentially resulted in many Americans being obsessed with work and working.

By Ryan Clancy | Published

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Historically people worked out of necessity, whether that was food or a place to have over their heads. The thought of working for power, status or an existential meaning would be crazy to them. So why, in this modern age, are Americans obsessed with working?

First, it’s important to understand that over the last two hundred years, goods and information have been moving faster and faster pace, so modern living had to be built around such a fast pace. One of the main things that incited change when it came to work, was the implementation of the “manager.” This person’s sole responsibility was to manage people and ensure all the work was completed. The new role was a far cry from our ancestors, building a cabinet for a farmer and being paid in food. 

The introduction of many new businesses that turned into large companies meant that people could now work up the ladder and be promoted to different, higher-paying jobs. This was when job satisfaction started to play a role in the working day. When there is a chance for improvement, success, and admiration, humans cannot help themselves but be drawn in by such factors. 

Along with professional progress, over the 20th century, there has been a decline in social integration and organized religion which left a massive gap in people’s lives. This gap has been filled mostly by work and a career, unfortunately. In today’s society, a job cannot just be a means to an end, a way to make money; it has to be a calling, a career, a lifestyle choice. 

So is anything wrong with how work is perceived in our modern society? The answer to that question is subjective. While there is nothing wrong with loving your job, it actually makes it a lot easier to go to work every day. But having it take over your life and being the sole purpose of your existence sounds a little like a cult of productivity and achievement that many people are stuck in a cycle of. Some people have found a new religion that glorifies working yourself to the bone and achieving great professional success. Some people call this “workism.” This is the belief that you can find everything that our ancestors found in social groups, religion, and family, in work and your career, which is a little crazy. 

Like everything, whatever you do in life should be done in moderation. Even things deemed healthy for you would become unhealthy if they were implemented into your life the way work has been implemented into so many modern Americans’ daily lives. It gives people less time for things that ignite their soul and help their mental growth, like family, friends, and personal hobbies. It is one of the main reasons why marriages and relationships fail, as these essential relationships are put second to progressing at their jobs. 

With the implementation of artificial intelligence into the workforce, the way in which many Americans look at work is certain to change, and would that really be a bad thing?