A friend and I recently had a debate over whether Millennials, on the whole, would prefer to be left to their own devices and eke out an existence, or shine bright for all to see like the one-in-a-million little diamonds they think they are. Our generation is, for lack of a better word, “fucky” when it comes to any kind of ethos; we cherish individuality in theory, and hammer home conformity in practice. We’ve got a collective fetish for activism, but only to the degree that our lust for validation is slaked. We claim an unrealistic level of personal, spiritual and political awareness yet continue to walk off the end of train platforms in pursuit of the perfect selfie. In the spirit of our eternal march towards shades of beige, enter WeWork: communal working spaces in over 38 cities, where you can be an individual just like everybody else.
WeWork is the workplace equivalent of the cool aunt who taught you how to make your first gravity bong: aloof, informal, and trying way too hard to make rebellion look effortless. WeWork is a safe space for those who hack up a man bun-sized hairball at the thought of “corporate culture,” don the same pair of unwashed sweatpants day after day until they inevitably blow out the crotch, and who’d rather have a complimentary bag of Jordan almonds from Loot Crate than health insurance. Put bluntly, WeWork is methadone for post-grads who would leverage autonomy for free craft beer and regularly scheduled chillaxation breaks. But if you think WeWork sounds like ground zero for smug trust fund kids and peepants who couldn’t lock down a job at Facebook, hang on to your fucking butts because things are about to take a hard left turn into Jonestown.
With two locations in New York City and Washington, D.C., WeLive is communal living at its finest, as well as WeWork’s attempt to show our generation what it was like to be a Kentucky coal miner during the 19th century. It’s all gravy on the surface: the apartments come fully furnished and expertly arranged down to the last fridge magnet. Air hockey tables and vintage arcade machines dot the laundry room. Hundreds of roommates who are more like family than a bunch of hipster accidents of circumstance surround you every waking moment of every single day. How sentimental. But at $4,000 a month, what are you really getting? Calling yourselves “family” is an inherently meaningless gesture; The Juggalos refer to themselves as “The Family,” and they’re a bunch of inbred diabetics who throw feces at each other as a symbol of solidarity. A more accurate description of the WeLive culture would be “collective,” or “commune.” Or, if you prefer, “cult.”
One need only take a look at Vice News Tonight’s staggering profile of Nicolas Lulli, a 25-year-old social media stooge and WeWork/WeLife devotee, to realize just how far down the asshole of George Orwell’s nightmare we’ve traveled.
Lulli chalks WeLife’s appeal up to the removal of stressful everyday decisions. Look, if you get overwhelmed trying to pick out a fucking breakfast cereal, somebody needs to do you the courtesy of suffocating you with a dry cleaning bag. The art you choose and where you hang it is the last gasp of individual expression you’ve got! Working at a social media startup for hedge fund managers can’t be your only fucking identity, Nicolas Lulli! Shit, I spiraled into a depression just typing that sentence. You’re allowed to believe that material possessions are inconsequential; nobody’s forcing you to have them. The bigger problem is that you spend twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week nursing at the chapped teat of a corporate overlord in plucky startup’s clothing instead of living your life—a life that is allegedly free from attachment. Nicolas Lulli and people like him are content to throb with the hive, taking pride in a collective identity shared by 7th Wave Neo-Post-Neo-Feminists and white guys with dreadlocks. See, in a situation like that, a personality becomes a liability. WeHeaven forbid you skip out on the WeLife family supper to snort coke with underwear models on a Tuesday night and actually experience all this spinning ball of dirt has to offer.
To my fellow Millennials, a word of advice: embrace inconvenience. Reiki massages and unlimited bubble tea sound like the dream, but $350 a month to rent a fucking desk and upward of $4000 to dwell in a WeHive with the rest of the drones isn’t worth the loss of individuality. Savor the extra twenty minutes tacked on to your morning commute because two bums were having a vomit fight on the train. Bask in the irritation of navigating a shopping cart through a supermarket full of screaming latchkey children. Relish the infuriating liberty of trying to assemble the Liatorp entertainment center—a.k.a “The Divorcemaker”—from Ikea. The things that anger or inconvenience us are the things that fuel our spirit. WeWork is a volcanic Hot Pocket coated in Captain Crunch that shreds and burns away every last taste bud on your soul’s tongue while giving you absolutely nothing of substance to live on. Before you wriggle out of your lease and start sucking down on the WeWork/WeLive Kool Aid, consider the benefits of separating work from your personal life and keep it just that: personal.