A life of leisure now socially acceptable

A cultural shift is occurring in our society that accounts for a change in our perception of leisure. A life of leisure is no longer criticized by the general public; it is commended. To find an alternative method of living your life, a method in which you need not work or have a job, is admirable to us. 

Not all of us can afford to do this; however, we can still try. Whether we watch Netflix instead of doing homework or travel the world until our savings are gone, our attempts won’t go unnoticed. The trend is catching on. 

In a way, we have inherited a socially acceptable form of Wilson's Syndrome, a condition in which able-bodied individuals sit for days or weeks without completing any task. While nobody's endorsing that kind of loafing, our society increasingly admires doing "nothing."

Many different factors are responsible for this shift, including a change in demographics. A large aspect of this change in demographics is the aging of the Baby Boomer generation. By 2030, approximately one in five U.S. citizens will be more than 65 years old

As the youth witnesses this change, they will find it difficult to imagine the life of hard work these individuals led; they will view them as a burden to their finances and opportunities. With an older generation retiring and leisurely living, younger generations lose the role models of hard work and ingenuity that characterize older generations.

Although these individuals lack to the motivation to work, they still have goals. Some people have discovered alternative pathways such as travel that will give their life purpose.

According to Tripoto, an online global travel community, Aileen Adalid, a 19-year-old wanting to explore the world, started her corporate career in investment banking with hopes of saving enough money to travel. She soon realized that this was not the life she wanted to lead.

There are several others with similar stories. This is something that our parents and our grandparents would never dream of; they were expected to settle down, have a family, and provide for that family by working. Without a majority following this lifestyle of hard work, our country will suffer under the loss in productivity. 

Compared to other countries, the citizens of the U.S. are lazy. In Japan, professionals are working themselves to death, succumbing to heart attack, strokes and suicide. A new term, karoshi, has been coined to represent this “death by overworking.”

It transcends issues in the U.S. alone; the economy will suffer as the work force loses participants. The work force will continue to grow but at a slower rate. According to BLS Labor Force Projections, from 2000 to 2010, the labor force grew by 1.1 percent while, from 2010 to 2020, it is projected to grow by less that 1 percent.

Ambition is needed to keep the world spinning, but as the hard workers die off, and the attitude towards work changes, leisure becomes the favorable lifestyle.


Reach the columnist at ghirneis@asu.edu or follow @ghirneise1 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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