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TikTok Trend Encouraging People to Hustle Even Beyond 9 to 5 Jobs Slammed as Unrealistic; Here's Why

A recent trend that's sticking around on TikTok—it's called "5-to-9 before 9-to-5." which is all about sharing cool morning routines that people find (not so) impressive.
Image Source: Photo by Cliff  Booth | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Cliff Booth | Pexels

TikTok videos aren't just for entertainment and stress relief after a long day at work, and a lot of content on the platform media is now focusing on helping millennials and Gen Zs achieve a work-life balance. One such TikTok trend encourages users to show off their morning routine. It's called "5-to-9 before 9-to-5," and is all about doing a bunch of stuff such as making your bed, hitting the gym, taking a shower, getting dressed, cooking breakfast, journaling, meditating, and reading a book, before starting your regular day at work. And guess what? It's not just a morning thing. Some people also do videos of their evening routines from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Image Source: Photo by Ron Lach | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Ron Lach | Pexels

Most of these videos are made by influencers who live in fancy places, have cool gyms, and use expensive skincare products. There's a hashtag, #5to9, and it has almost 50 million views. But this trend has also sparked a bunch of funny imitations, and some folks are calling it unrealistic, claiming that it promotes an ideal that's hard for regular people to achieve.

In a TikTok, Mandy Lee, a fashion writer, talks about how the 5-to-9 trend reminds her of the "girlboss" era from the 2010s. She says that back then, being super busy was seen as glamorous. Watching the 5-to-9 trend now, she feels like people still see taking it easy and just chilling without being super productive as a weakness.

Image Source: Photo by Andrew Neel | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Andrew Neel | Pexels

Another video, this time from artist Tyla Maiden, pokes fun at how unrealistic it is for most people to follow this trend. She jokes about how she's not getting up early and definitely not putting on real pants.

Tyla made the video to give a "reality check" to anyone feeling bad for not doing a bunch of stuff before 9 am, and it went viral with over 260,000 views. Maiden doesn't like how trends like these make people feel pressured to be super productive even outside of their regular jobs.

Rahaf Harfoush, a digital anthropologist, points out that the 5-to-9 videos are all about optimizing our time and ourselves. She says we're so used to tracking our leisure time, including the minutes we spend on Spotify or screen time we get on our phone, that we start measuring our own worth by these standards.

Image Source: Image Source: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels
Image Source: Image Source: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio | Pexels

Harfoush thinks these videos show a very regimented and strict approach to life as if we're on an assembly line making our routines. She questions the messaging behind it, which is the idea that every hour must be valuable based on societal standards. She warns that we might be losing messy, unstructured time and spontaneity, or simply the right to exist without always being productive.

While these videos are super popular, especially after the pandemic brought attention to the risk of burnout, Harfoush says it's tough to let go of the belief that we always need to be doing something. Even if we know it's a bit silly, our subconscious minds have been trained to recognize and value certain behaviors.