Hustlers Are Ruining Everything for Everyone Else
No profession’s safe.
Entrepreneurship, writing, singing, influencing, goddamn cult leading — they all suffer from a particular subspecies of chronic overachiever known as the hustler.
Where there’s a follower count, there’ll be hustlers. Where there’s a bestseller list, a ranking list, a record list; there’ll be hustlers.
Smelling armpits sounds like a fastidious job, but build a podium and they will come.
Hustlers are the reason why we can’t have nice things
Hustlers pursue success in a pretentious way. They don’t care about reaching absolutely everyone in the world like some sort of COVID variant or Nord VPN sponsor. They care about doing a bit better than everyone else.
They don’t want more subscribers, but more subscribers than you. Not high engagement, but higher engagement than you. Better conversion rates, better views, better reads, better. Better than you.
Now, that’s pretentious.
There’s nothing wrong with being competitive. I’m very competitive myself, and yet I and my deep-rooted sense of inadequacy have gone through childhood just fine.
But when outhustling others become the sole reason why you turn up to work every day, three major problems arise.
Hustlers mock good work for a profit
This makes me think of mockbusters.
You know, those low budget, straight-to-torrent movie releases solely designed to cow ride on the success and publicity of major motion pictures?
You might’ve heard a few of their rip-off titles, such as Transmorphers (read that again), Snakes on a Train (I’m hoping for the sequel Strangers on a Plane), or Android Cop (for those who couldn’t afford to go watch iOS Cop I presume).
That’s a hustler reaching for the lowest-hanging fruit of content creation in all its splendour.
Except this happens everywhere. Every form of content has its mockbuster because hustlers don’t give a shit about the meaning, purpose, or quality of the work — so long as they find a way to hack a profit from it.
Hustlers ruin the game for players
Players are hustlers’ counterparts.
Players hop on the content creation race to explore, experiment, have fun. Players humbly but steadily try to find a style and a place for themselves.
And that’s the reason why they’re outmatched by the hustlers every time.
Because, while players sweat an effort that will likely go unrewarded, hustlers keep pumping out the formulaic shitposting that doomscrollers can’t snap out of.
It’s not good work — it’s endurable at best — but because hustlers are more cost-effective than players, algorithms and platforms are optimized for their sickening work ethics.
And in doing so, they make sure every platform has a whipped cream layer of half-witted mediocrity on top, making it harder for good work to surface.
Hustlers sell an empty lifestyle
In the end, we all know not all of us can make it.
In this race for successful creative careers, there will be a lot of losers. And I figure that, for every 10 snaggle-toothed incels that got humiliated by Simon Cowell, at least one of them wants to see the world burn in retaliation.
That doesn’t mean you should buy the lifestyle of the hustlers who do make it to the top.
Because, again, reaching the top is not about doing the best, but doing better than everyone else. As standards rise, the top climbs higher. There's no ceiling to a hustler’s ambition.
Vanity metrics are written with numbers, which should be the first sign that there is no end to them. Chasing them will create the kind of irreparable inner void only felt by those who expected Lost’s season finale to tie up all the knots.
But in a macabre twist of irony, we all want that hollow modus vivendi. Because, like it or not, hustlers are the ones winning.
Don’t blame the game, blame the hustler
Say what you want about algorithms. About platforms and tech lords’ secret agendas. Tell me how they favour quantity over quality, style over substance — speed, ease, and abundance.
You’d be right on all accounts.
But it’s not up to the game to decide to earn trust over funds, to start making a change but not the cash kind, to enrich lives but not in dollars, to bring balance but not in bank accounts.
It’s up to the player.
And it’s a shame that, in this marvellous digital place where anyone with the wifi’s password can ship something meaningful, we have to stop looking at our work the way we’d want because some chronic grinders decided to ruin it for everyone else.