The ceaselessly productive worker, with little time for rest, let alone any need or desire for it, stands today as a heroic icon, particularly in the high-strung white-collar milieus of Silicon Valley and Wall Street. The desired persona is one that transcends needs for sleep, care, relationships, and any other obligation that might distract from work and profit.
In this world, legendary figures are the ones who remain in the office for one hundred hours straight, working through their children’s musical recitals and 104-degree fevers. The idea is that workers become superhuman through the refusal of self-care.
This phenomenon isn’t merely depressing; it’s outright dangerous. In 2013, a twenty-one-year-old intern at Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s London office died suddenly. He had been working until 6 AM for three consecutive days. In the summer of 2014, a long-haul truck driver overturned his vehicle on the New Jersey Turnpike,severely injuring comedian Tracey Morgan and killing a companion of Morgan’s. The truck driver had not slept in more than twenty-four hours.