Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Millennials are obsessed with side hustles because they’re all we’ve got

quote [ The side hustle offers something worth much more than money: A hedge against feeling stuck and dull and cheated by life. ]

Nice little op-ed styled bloggy article


On weekends, Colleen teaches fitness classes. Mary builds websites. Luke sells vintage video games. Tony designs and 3D-prints custom Star Wars miniatures. I write for the internet.

Among my friends, and 20- and 30-somethings as a whole, the side hustle–the gig you work in addition to your day job–is so ubiquitous that, in April, Glamour Magazine posed the rueful question: “You don’t freelance on the side… What kind of urban-dwelling Millennial are you?” Failing to participate in the trend might even lead one to a “Millennial identity crisis.”

Advertisers, including those you might not think of as in the vanguard, have glommed on, too. This Chevy ad suggests owning a Cruze is a way to “#FuelYourHustle.” It’s a two minute long rallying cry to being your own boss. Sure, there’s no explicit mention of using your shiny new car as an Uber. But if you’re under 35, you can probably hear that dog whistle.

I’m not objecting. It’s a relief to see facts leading marketing, rather than the other way around. We are Generation 1099. By our side hustles, ye shall know us. What surprises me is that no one, at least to my knowledge, has tried to explain why.

Maybe that’s because many people assume the side hustle is just financially oriented, simply another adaptive response to recession-era economics. Google “side hustle” and you will find thousands of stories, but they are all focused on the how. As in, Dear internet, how can I make another $200 a month to cover my Verizon bill?

Extra cash is far from the whole story. It’s true, the 2008 crisis forced plenty of people to look for additional sources of income, not least of all the recent graduates who, with little experience and limited networks, were confronting the job market for the first time. But the desire to earn more money on the side predates the crisis (as does the Urban Dictionary definition of “side hustle”). Millennials didn’t invent the second job, they just branded it.

Here’s an example. Those friends of mine whose jobs are the most squarely aimed at the public good–teachers, local-government workers, a college buddy who works for a beloved and worthy nonprofit–they all tell me their side hustles are about survival, about being able to afford to live. Or just to eat at a restaurant once in a while. None would claim these jobs paid well before the recession.

And that’s to say nothing of those who don’t have access to college education, those who can’t find day jobs at all, and those for whom, by choice or not, a 1099 is all there is.

The sheer range of side hustles suggests there’s more in play than money. There are the well known app-based gigs, like Uber and TaskRabbit. You’ve got the day job with a freelance extension–the full-time graphic designer who also has her own clients. Then there’s what you might ungenerously call the side hustle as self-promotion, which covers some yoga teachers and life coaches, though by no means all. Next along the line is the side hustle as self-delusion, i.e. spending years on some (doomed) artistic effort that will make the world care and understand, at last!

If that sounds harsh, well, I should know. Last year, writing for the internet earned me a grand total of $415 before taxes, or about the price of two hotel nights on the outskirts of Manhattan or San Francisco. To say I’m not in it for the money would be understatement. Not because I’m above such earthly considerations. There’s just very little money in it to be for.

In fact, given all the hours I’ve devoted to it, there’s no question in my mind that I’ve lost more than I’ve made, if only in terms of my Starbucks spend. But I’m not complaining.

The side hustle offers something worth much more than money: A hedge against feeling stuck and dull and cheated by life. This psychological benefit is the real reason for the Millennial obsession, I’d argue, and why you might want to consider finding your own side hustle, no matter how old you are.

Now, you might wonder, what would a bunch of twenty-five year olds know about feeling stuck and dull? Put another way, what happens when a generation raised with a “you can be whatever you want to be” ethos meets the worst job market in years? In which many of the traditional dream careers–from working in the arts to becoming a lawyer–go from being long shots to being totally untenable, or more or less cease to exist altogether?

For me, the biggest laugh in Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck was the notion that, in an ostensible 2014-2015, her character has a “great job” as a staff writer at a (print!) men’s magazine–a job so lucrative she can afford a “sick apartment” and also help to underwrite her father’s nursing-home costs. Romcoms, even when written by a progressive, typically on-point comic like Schumer, aren’t intended to be realistic portrayals. Still, the detail struck me as less fanciful than simply uncanny, more appropriate to a Buñuel film with explicit surrealist intentions.

Much closer to the mark was how, in Lena Dunham’s Girls, Marnie aspires to be an art curator until she is told, by a curator, that “curator as a job doesn’t really exist anymore.” I can relate. The person who encouraged me not to pursue a full-time journalism career was himself a career journalist. We even attended the same journalism school 35 years apart. I’m speaking of my Dad.

Okay, so them’s the breaks. Previous generations have also coped with such semi-tragedy; probably every human ever has been a sort of actor-waiter at some point. In any case, those of us who are employed generally understand ourselves to be lucky. Working as a benefits administrator, an ad-sales rep or even a Facebook engineer might not be the dream job. But your side hustle can keep you from feeling pigeonholed. It’s the distraction from your disappointment, a bridge between crass realities and your compelling inner life.

In the best-case scenario, your side hustle can be like a lottery ticket, offering the possibility–however remote–that you just might hit the jackpot and discover that holy grail of gigs. The one that perfectly blends money and love. The one that’s coming along any day now.
[SFW] [people] [+7 Sad]
[by lilmookieesquire@8:05pmGMT]


JWWargo said[1] @ 11:17pm GMT on 5th Apr [Score:3 Good]
This accurately describes the bulk of work I've chosen to do since 2009.

Along the lines of a "holy grail" job: I began working freelance as a general laborer for a film and television producer last summer, she found my ad offering services on Craigslist. A PA dropped out last minute on one of her shoots and she asked me to fill in. My work was satisfactory so she's had me work on other projects as they come in. Last month I was promoted to AP (more responsibility, reversed acronym!) for a documentary shot in California. I just got back on Monday and was cut the largest check I've ever earned for a single job. Managed to impress the director on the doc, so there is high likelihood of similar jobs in the future. May have stumbled upon my calling after years of shitty manual labor jobs.
robotroadkill said @ 3:05am GMT on 6th Apr [Score:2]
Since I don't know what those acronyms mean, I'm assuming that you got promoted from being a lowly Penile Assistant to a full fledged Ass Punisher. And for this you earn my hearty congratulations!
rylex said @ 8:12pm GMT on 5th Apr [Score:2 Informative]
plus, now in order to live in most major cities, you need a job and a hustle to pay rent and eat.

this was info shared with me by a prostitute. prostitution was her hustle. her day job was working as a receptionist somewhere
youchoose said @ 8:41pm GMT on 5th Apr
Maybe don't live inside the major city?
midden said @ 8:44pm GMT on 5th Apr
Yup. I've moved to the boonies. I've got 2.5 acres and a tiny mortgage. Fuck urban living.
captainstubing said @ 9:12pm GMT on 5th Apr
And that is really appealing. But I don't think most of my work is going to move out of town for me. So a tiny mortgage turns into a monster commute.

Also, snakes.
midden said @ 5:29am GMT on 6th Apr
Yup, I've got both the commute and the snakes. Totally worth it. And I kinda like snakes.
eidolon said @ 1:39am GMT on 6th Apr
It's a great gig if you can get it. Most office jobs don't allow telecommuting to that extent, and for service industry you either face a long commute with little or no public transit or you have to find something locally. Positions will obviously be limited because you live in a low population density area.

During a recent drive through the countryside I saw many great properties for sale whose worn signs suggested they had been on the market quite some time. It occurred to me that the commute to any job which would allow a person to afford these properties would be long assuming such a job is even available anywhere in that area.

While telecommuting and the internet is, in part, fixing this for a variety of job types, these same advances make it easy to outsource your job to a cheaper country. Unless we start regulating outsourcing and mandating telecommuting, I am not sure how else we would fix that.

Ideas? Observations?
LurkerAtTheGate said[1] @ 1:48am GMT on 6th Apr [Score:1 Informative]
the spectrum of 'major city' to 'rural boonies' has a lot of shades in between. I live in a very small city, 2k sqft house that costs less than a studio apt in any major city, plenty of jobs here, they pay less than major city jobs but cost of living is much lower. I mean, I could make double or triple if I moved to a major tech hub, but my house is a fractionof a shitty apartment there...oh and fastest internet in the country from municipal ISP.
eidolon said @ 1:58am GMT on 6th Apr
Do you mind if I ask for a general idea of where you live? Many suburban areas still have terrible internet due to the not-technically-by-law-a-monopoly agreements between providers. Ironically, where I live the urban area has worse internet than some distant satellite suburbs. But it all makes sense when you look at the incomes. The boonies suburbs with the awesome FiOS are in a very wealthy county while the densely populated area I live in isn't filled with rich white people.
LurkerAtTheGate said[3] @ 2:29am GMT on 6th Apr [Score:2 Interesting]
eh, by that info alone you could find it. Chattanooga TN. Municipal fiber 100Mb/s for $50, 1Gb/s for $70, 10 Gb/s for $300. The provider was sued repeatedly by Comcast, but when they won Comcast switched to lobbyists and got the muni thing banned everywhere else in the state.

The provider is technically our power anywhere served by them gets fiber too. Most of the county, and it bleeds into some of the neighboring ones. Downtown or rural outskirts, same service. Only apartment dwellers get boned sometimes -- some of the apartment complexes have deals w/ Comcast and won't wire their buildings for EPB fiber.
midden said @ 5:28am GMT on 6th Apr
Yes, I do have a 45 minute commute, but it's worth it for me. It's also not at all unusual for the DC area. I end up spending something like 45+ hours/week between work and commuting, but to live in the city I'd have to work at least that much to afford the cost of living.
rylex said[1] @ 1:25am GMT on 6th Apr
I don't. i live in a suburb of oakland. The rent increases/gentrification has spilled over to here now.

I last lived in SF 10 years ago. I was renting an apartment in the marina for just about 1800, maybe 600sqft. I moved to oakland later that year and rented an entire 8 bedroom victorian house of like 3000sqft for 2800, granted it was in the hood, but almost everywhere in Oakland is in the hood. 2 years later I moved to Berkeley and rented a 2 bedroom house of 950sqft for 1800, it was in a decent part of town but away from the college.

These days my SF spot rents for 3000, the oakland spot goes for 4800 (keep in mind people are murdered/assaulted regularly in the area), and my old berkeley spot goes for 2950.

Its utterly ridiculous.
LurkerAtTheGate said[1] @ 1:51am GMT on 6th Apr
My custom built 2000sqft house has a mortgage of under 800/mo. I'd have to be offered an absurd salary to move to CA.
foobar said @ 2:00am GMT on 6th Apr
The only way I can see that being possible is if the land has no value.
midden said @ 8:42pm GMT on 5th Apr
sanepride said @ 9:14pm GMT on 5th Apr
What? Millennials invented moonlighting/side jobs?
That's funny. I and most of my self-employed peers have been doing this for decades.
And while I can certainly empathize with anyone of any age who needs a 'side hustle' to make a little extra cash or fill idle time with productive activity (a little thing we also call a 'hobby' or 'pastime'), this notion of 'A hedge against feeling stuck and dull and cheated by life' seems just a bit whiny.
Just to be clear, I'm not suggesting an entire generation is whiny, just the author of this essay.
Wadysseus said @ 9:44pm GMT on 5th Apr
FTFA: But the desire to earn more money on the side predates the crisis (as does the Urban Dictionary definition of “side hustle”). Millennials didn’t invent the second job, they just branded it.
sanepride said @ 9:57pm GMT on 5th Apr
Fair enough, even if the idea of 'branding' something people have always done is kind of precious.
Wadysseus said @ 10:33pm GMT on 5th Apr
Sure, you're right, it's always been as pervasive as it is today. It certainly is something that defined previous generations' ability to put food in their mouths. /s
bbqkink said[2] @ 11:40pm GMT on 5th Apr
Yes It HAS ...My grandmother baked for the neighborhood for her spending money my dad grew up in the depression I have always bought and sold used "junk"....what the Millennials have done is what they always do....assume because it is new to them it is it has been called a "side hustle" since the 60's
eggboy said @ 7:42am GMT on 6th Apr [Score:1 Interesting]
Primo Levi called it "organising" in the forties. It seemed just the way of life in mess of the immediate post-war period. He describes having four hustles/scams running concurrently at one point in Auchwitz, if you didn't have at least one going almost all of the time you just didn't have the calories/shoes to survive.
foobar said @ 11:59pm GMT on 5th Apr
So your grandma didn't have to do it to get by.
bbqkink said @ 12:46am GMT on 6th Apr
She could have survived but if she wanted what she called pin money...bake.
steele said @ 10:17pm GMT on 5th Apr
It's a bit more than that, if anything the side hustle is hiding a serious issue. Almost all the US jobs created since 2005 are temporary.
sanepride said @ 10:26pm GMT on 5th Apr
Sure, though even this article points out that a certain percentage of these 'temporary' (or contract) jobs are by choice. A lot of folks - myself included- prefer to not be chained to a regular full-time job, having to answer to an idiot boss.
Granted some of this is due to full time jobs sucking more because of the decline of organized labor and our general lack of worker benefits and protections.
Anyway the coming robot apocalypse will likely even this out for everyone.
foobar said @ 12:10am GMT on 6th Apr
You can walk out of regular employment at a moments notice, should you choose.

Contract work not only makes it much cheaper and easier for them to dismiss you, but may penalize you if you choose to leave at an unforeseen moment.
sanepride said @ 12:18am GMT on 6th Apr
All depends on benefits, and if you've got a family to support.
But yeah, contract work has big benefits for employers. For workers, it all depends. But if you're not in a union or civil service, you can still get canned or downsized with little reason or notice. A lot of folks seek regular employment for the 'security', but really it ain't necessarily all that secure.
foobar said @ 1:58am GMT on 6th Apr
All depends on benefits, and if you've got a family to support.

I don't see how that differs from contract work.
sanepride said @ 2:24am GMT on 6th Apr
Contractors generally don't receive any employee benefits (health coverage, paid sick leave, vacation, etc).
foobar said @ 2:27am GMT on 6th Apr
No, they're expected to factor that into the contract price. That's why they're paid more.

I was referring to the bit about having a family to support.
sanepride said @ 2:48am GMT on 6th Apr
Employer-provided health coverage, that's the main reason folks with kids try to seek out regular full-time employment, plus at least the hope of job security. Obamacare has made a difference for self-employed people in this situation though.
foobar said @ 3:10am GMT on 6th Apr
Ah, yeah. Health insurance means something entirely different up here.
foobar said @ 11:58pm GMT on 5th Apr
The article explicitly said the opposite, grandpa.

The main difference is that you didn't have to hustle to get the basics. They were just handed to you.
sanepride said[1] @ 12:11am GMT on 6th Apr [Score:1 Classy Pr0n]
Funny how I have no recollection of this. What I seem to remember is graduating from college at the height of the Reagan recession, finally landing a job cooking burgers in a bar for five years, supplementing that with various 'side hustles'- delivery driving, phone sales, other food-service related stuff, etc. Oh yeah, I hustled. I still hustle.
Unlike some folks around here, I prefer not to fall back on generational stereotypes.
Otherwise, you and I may have more in common than you'd like to admit.
Oh yeah, except you have the benefit of living in a society with a semblance of social safety nets, so really you've got less to bellyache about.
foobar said @ 2:12am GMT on 6th Apr
The numbers don't really line up well there for you being a baby boomer. Even ignoring that, houses were still effectively free in the 80's, and even shit jobs paid living wages.

I mean, if you didn't make use of that, I have some sympathy, but it's pretty limited.

Especially given the fight that's very soon to break out over boomers wanting to take more out of the retirement system than they put in. That's gonna get nasty, but if my peers don't slap their entitled asses down, we're really fucked.
sanepride said @ 2:39am GMT on 6th Apr
The numbers line up fine, I'm a late boomer, born in '60, graduated college in '82.
(that's right, I'm not quite as aged as memed here). And living wages, then as now, really depend on where you live. Yeah real estate was cheaper but interest rates were double-digit. And even though you're not part of our Social Security system, rest assured I'm not getting out more than I put in, nor do I expect to retire at any reasonable age. Bright side is at least I like my work,
Not looking for sympathy, maybe more like empathy, like I have for the problems of the millenials because at least some of my generation have been there too.
foobar said[1] @ 3:47am GMT on 6th Apr
That's the thing, you don't.

Quick linguistic detour. Sympathy is to imagine the feelings of another, empathy is to actually mirror them; to understand and feel as the other does.

I accept that you think you're empathising, or even sympathising, but you're being grossly, offensively, ignorant.

In 1980 the median American wage was $12,513.46. The medium house sale price was $62,900, almost exactly 5 years salary (or two and a half for a married couple).

If you can't see that it doesn't even vaguely work that way at all, then no, you aren't sympathising and you certainly aren't empathising.

I'm sorry if you dropped the ball on the obscene wealth just given to your generation, but we were never even given the chance to catch it.

And now you want to retire on our dime.
sanepride said @ 4:22am GMT on 6th Apr
Eh, haters gonna hate.
And it's not gonna help you one bit.

And oh, btw, empathy is to imagine the feelings of another.
As in 'I understand, I've been there'.
Sympathy is to feel pity or sorrow. Like 'that's too bad, sorry to hear it'.

So go ahead and dismiss my empathy if want, but you'll get no sympathy for your pointless generation-blaming. I sense you lack the life experience to move past this kind of pettiness. Ah, youth- yet again wasted on the young.
foobar said @ 4:32am GMT on 6th Apr
Yeah, ignore the facts.
HoZay said @ 5:23am GMT on 6th Apr
You're practically Gen X. I think you totally missed out on the free houses. I had several of those, one had cigarette trees in the front yard.
sanepride said @ 5:44am GMT on 6th Apr
Yeah, dates very a bit. I've seen Gen X starting anywhere from '61 - '65.
But it was actually my parents who got the (almost) free house.
foobar said @ 6:00am GMT on 6th Apr
Five times yearly income is still pretty damn close to free.
sanepride said @ 3:25pm GMT on 6th Apr
Do we have to revisit this?
Yearly US median household income in 2015: $56,516
Current median home sale price is $228,400.
That's a little under four times yearly income, so by your definition, even pretty damn closer to free. Plus, interest rates are still low enough to make mortgages almost free.
Yeah, I know these home prices swing wildly depending on where you are, and believe it or not I do empathize with the difficulties of the current younger generations just getting by, never mind trying to afford a home or even rent someplace like the SF Bay area. So just as my numbers cited here don't tell the full story, I respectfully suggest the same with your broad, sweeping generalizations.
foobar said @ 3:50pm GMT on 6th Apr
Median personal income in the US is $30,240, and no one is getting a house for that price. The base HCI for not just my city, not just the region around it, but the larger area around that is $1.2 million.

$228,400 might get you a really shitty condo several hours from the city (and at least an hour from the farthest reaches of public transit).

So yeah, we have to revisit this.
Bleb said @ 1:28am GMT on 6th Apr
Asking out of complete ignorance: Are the job quality/security issues facing millennials in the US also a problem in Europe?
LurkerAtTheGate said @ 2:43am GMT on 6th Apr
Worse, much worse in some cases. Youth Unemployment in Greece & Spain at 40%+, 25%+ in a number of others.
captainstubing said @ 9:36pm GMT on 6th Apr
You need to be careful with youth un-rates from Eurostat as they tend to count it differently. Many who would be considered to be unattached to the labour force in most places are counted as unemployed.

Don't get me wrong, being young in some parts of southern Europe in particular is seriously shitty in terms of finding work, but much of the data being bandied about is not apples to apples. It is pretty nasty, however, and they are experiencing this unemployment at times when it tends to have durable effects on career progression. We will be a long time working out to the other side of this.
LurkerAtTheGate said @ 12:03am GMT on 7th Apr
I'm aware but it was the only stats I could find -- googling EU youth unemployment gets an awful lot of anecdote articles about Spanish and Greek kids moving north to find work but not much in the way of numbers.
captainstubing said @ 5:39am GMT on 7th Apr
Oh, your main point stands. It is ugly for the youth cohort in much of Southern Europe. Seriously ugly. I do recall around five years ago the Spanish reported 62% for youth unemployment (or at least it was for the 19-25 ish cohort.) That was when I went for a look and saw the methodological differences. I have not seen any examples where data are expressed in line with non-EU data, but you can bet your ball sack it is still really high in some places.

I would still much prefer being an unemployed youth in most of Western Europe to anywhere in the U.S. At my age just being a youth again would be ok.
eidolon said @ 1:34am GMT on 6th Apr
I work a salaried position, which is rare in my field, and I still have side hustles. If I didn't, saving up any money would be a pipe dream. I'm fortunate that's all it is, but it's still messed up that I have what our generation considers a decent job and I can't afford for anything bad to happen to me unless I work extra on the side. I'm not saving for retirement, just the copay on a medical emergency (I even have insurance! How lucky am I?)

To be that far ahead of so much of my cohort and this is what I can boast... it's pretty sad. This is part of why I give so much of my money away instead of going out much. I know too many people on the internet who just need groceries because they literally have nothing left to eat this week through no fault of their own.

I still don't think we can fix this on the federal level. The states can refuse the money. The only thing on the federal level that would have changed this is a Supreme Court that outlaws gerrymandering so we'd have a chance of changing our local government.

The election, no matter how it went, would not have instantly solved our SC problem. First, we'd need someone to bring a case and have it heard. Then we get into the matter of the Justices themselves. If our reps could prevent Obama from appointing a seat, I am not sure we could have forced them to allow any appointments from any subsequent liberal (and we'd need more than one since some of the Justices are old and would have strategically retired to make way for younger liberals in their seats).

Until both of those things happen, we'd need a substantial majority in my state and most predominantly red states before we could vote out the people who refused expansions for medicaid and who consistently vote on low property taxes (in turn defunding our schools).

Progressivism starts at a grass roots level. States' rights ensures this, unless we can push through a Constitutional Amendment. As a reminder, the legal drinking age is not, for instance, federal. It's set by each state and the federal government ties road funding to it in order to encourage/coerce the states to set the minimum at 21. A lot of things that are standardized across the U.S. and which we take for granted are determined by the states.
Tirade said @ 4:44am GMT on 6th Apr
Side hustle (definition) - the thing we do when we can't afford to actually invest in a startup business of our own, so we have to try and see if we can make some kind of self-sustaining half-assed hobby business in the faint, vain hope that perhaps one day we can save enough to reinvest into it and turn it into a real business so we can quit that energy-sucking job that doesn't actually pay rent, but we still can't afford to outright quit.

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