For “Quiet Quitting”

The social media platform TikTok has recently popularized a new term: quiet quitting. But what exactly does quiet quitting mean?

A large part of the negative press surrounding “quiet quitting” is due to its misleading name and unclear definition. And, of course, any concept emerging from TikTok or social media in general, such as quiet quitting, is understandably bound to be met with uncertainty. But with Gallup reporting that quiet quitters make up at least 50% of the U.S workforce, this trend is worth further investigation.

The term quiet quitting exploded in prominence after an 24-year-old engineer named Zaid Khan posted a tiktok and explained the term in its narration.

“You’re still performing your duties, but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life. The reality is it’s not—and your worth as a person is not defined by your labor.”

With this definition, it’s clear that quiet quitting doesn’t involve actually quitting, or even not fulfilling job requirements. Rather, it’s about maintaining a work-life balance, a concept that TikTok definitely did not invent.

Although it’s not a new concept, quiet quitting gained traction now as a form of pushback against hustle culture and a reaction to the pandemic. Deeply ingrained in American society, hustle culture tells people that they can always push past their limits, do more, be better, and work harder; this cultural mindset can quickly create an unhealthy work environment full of burnt out workers.

This sense of an all-consuming job only worsened during the pandemic, when employees were expected to be on perpetual standby for a Zoom meeting or an email. After all, wasn’t working from home instead of in the office already enough relaxation? The surge in quiet quitters replies with a resounding no.

AP Psychology and AP Macroeconomics teacher at Jesuit, Malia Bernards, shared her perspective on the growing awareness of working conditions and mental health in the workplace.

“We’re voting down certain businesses or corporations or small businesses that really weren’t cutting it,” Bernards said. “And I think in the end, we’re all going to be better off for it. You know, maybe we need to have a few restaurants close that didn’t treat their servers well.”

While employers certainly have an incredibly major responsibility to acknowledge the wellbeing of their workers, which phenomena such as the Great Resignation and quiet quitting are drawing attention to, workers also have a collective responsibility.

“It’s like ‘Hey, if the work isn’t good, can we actually unionize and do that together?’ I think that collective orientation is super important,” Bernards offers.

Workplace issues, such as wages and working conditions, do require collective attention and are just as necessary as a work-life balance. That fact can also coexist with the idea that people creating distance between a personal life and a job is extremely valuable, and that healthy objective is at the core of what quiet quitting aims to achieve.