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The Burnout Generation

Narrated by: Anne Helen Petersen
Length: 1 hr and 47 mins
4 out of 5 stars (8,897 ratings)

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Our favorite moments from The Burnout Generation

"…and the weight of not working is crippling."
Kate stresses over student loan debt.
Haley is constantly consumed by her job search.
Examine small habits that help with burnout.

  • The Burnout Generation
  • "…and the weight of not working is crippling."
  • The Burnout Generation
  • Kate stresses over student loan debt.
  • The Burnout Generation
  • Haley is constantly consumed by her job search.
  • The Burnout Generation
  • Examine small habits that help with burnout.
Anne Helen Petersen

About the Creator and Performer

Anne Helen Petersen is a senior culture writer at BuzzFeed News, where she writes about the intersection of celebrity, gender, and a whole lot more. She received her PhD in media studies from the University of Texas, and her most recent book, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman, was named one of the NPR's Best Books of 2017. Her next book—Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation.—is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Audible Studios in 2020. She lives in Missoula, Montana.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Falls short

I was expecting to hear an anecdotal account of relatable peers. I found it ironic because one of the opening statements mentions how the older generation perceives millennials as being lazy and entitled, yet the entire discussion then goes on to sound nothing short of lazy and entitled. That's of course when you can actually make any sense of what the interviewees are trying to explain at all in between their unintelligible flow of nonsensical dialogue. I give the author credit because she did draw a reasonable conclusion to wrap everything up, but I just overall couldn't help the feeling that this discussion was the opposite of helpful. It feels like a spiraling echo chamber of the issue that almost serves to tell you to feel somewhat justified in the drowning "burnout" that is apparently all too common in young adults. The constant underlying political and identity politics tone also didn't help at all. I wanted to like this and I am discouraged to have such a critical opinion when I feel the author was well intentioned and did thorough work.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Needs less emoting, more courageous questioning

A well-produced exploration that misses the mark. There's a lot of emoting and angsting and "sort of" and "right?" here but not much more. And thus, while I found the conversations interesting, the end result feels like a bunch of people safely lamenting instead of courageously questioning. Don't get me wrong. Burnout is a real thing, and I think it's important to look at it and deal with it. But that's the problem here. Petersen seems devoted to lamenting the problem, to talking about it ... but ... not much more. This angle — combined with a lack of definition as to what burnout is — inflate burnout to Goliath proportions as if to say, "This must require a book. And more think pieces. And a TED talk. And a Netflix documentary."

So, to me, the concept comes off as hyped. Burnout is positioned as a huge problem but with no clear definition. It seems Petersen wants you to believe it's lurking behind every corner. Lots of generality and critique, almost zero actual introspection and digging ... though Petersen seems to like the *idea* of introspection and digging. The result, it seems, is that burnout can be almost anything from normal job dissatisfaction and workplace politicking to oppression by systemic racism or sexism.

All of this comes off as a conversation taking place inside a comfortable room with soft couches and coffee — a safe space to journal and lament the difficult world handed to Millenials by the Boomers. My suggestion is this: yes, talk about burnout. Lament it. But first, define it. Then, once defined, venture out of that comfortable room, down into the basement and give the support beams about 10 to 20 strong kicks. See if they hold.

That is, instead of only safely emoting, also courageously question your assumptions. The big ones. Test the foundations.

What if the modern religion of Individualism is toxic and unfulfilling?

What if our consumerism consumes us?

What if education and knowledge are extraordinarily dangerous without humility?

What if meaning can't be found through the scientific method?

What if knowledge puffs up, makes you proud, makes you want to impress yourself and others, and that pride actually paves over your deepest needs and suffocates your heart?

What if burnout is your heart convulsing under all these layers of assumption, error, and expectation?

What if you were created for a purpose and you don't get to decide what that purpose is?

197 of 209 people found this review helpful

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An advertisement.

I wanted to listen to a book about people and their struggles with burnout, explain what burnout is, and perhaps offer some solutions. Instead, I got stories about burnout with personal politics laden throughout and constant paraphrasing and interruptions from the author when I would rather have heard the speaker say it for themselves. The author did manage to indirectly explain what burnout is (so long as the definition means "working so much that everything becomes work"), but offered no advice other than "learn more about burnout", which is something that a potential reader could have been told first thing (or done on their own time) so that they would not have to bother with this.
The Author kept referring to some article she wrote about burnout on some site that will remain unnamed, yet couldn't be bothered to have placed it in this body of work in any capacity, forcing anyone interested to give their site free clicks.

This was free with my audible membership. This was the only book this month that looked even remotely interesting, and I feel like I just wasted my time.

165 of 179 people found this review helpful

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Ugh, painful! Couldn't finish...

As a Gen X'er, I was intrigued by this book, and decided to download it so I could better understand my millennial colleagues and acquaintances. I went into it with an open mind, understanding that it can't be easy to be part of a generation that has been the butt of social media jokes and stigmatized far and above any other. Not to mention, growing up in an era where social media and technology encompassed every aspect of their personal and professional lives. I was hoping for enlightenment, but what I got was annoyance. First of all, this is not an audiobook. It's a podcast disguised as an audiobook. So rather than a nice, scripted listen, I had to endure hearing the word "like" from millennial interviewees about a billion times more than what was comfortable for my ears. Secondly, the stories were perplexing at best, and utterly ridiculous at worst. I sat through three "case studies," and I could not understand a single reason why there would be such severe burnout in this generation besides the fact that these young adults are plagued with student debt. Other than that, what I interpreted was a lot of "life is hard," and "I have to work a lot at my job, and I don't think I like it" and "I might have made a mistake in my career path or college choice." ???? Hello? How is that even remotely unique to Millennials? I had to stop listening halfway through the story of the New York girl who went to college and majored in theater, only to move to New York City and find out she couldn't make it in theater. Give me a break. These were the best examples of burnout that the author could come up with??? I was expecting stories and examples that were gritty and real and understandable from a different generation's point of view. But all I heard was whining, whining, and more whining. It's almost like a parody of every millennial joke you ever heard. I stopped listening about forty-five minutes into it. Maybe it gets better, but I'm over it. I'm really sorry that this didn't offer a better, deeper, more realistic view into the real burnout that probably does actually exist with Millennials. Anyway, just glad I didn't waste a credit on this.

42 of 45 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

So, basically a podcast episode.

As the title says, it doesn't go very deep, and doesn't even define any of the signs and symptoms of burnout. Didn't even deliver something as basic as that.

56 of 61 people found this review helpful

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Inflammatory when it should be informative

I was hoping to find reliable information about burnout, not a bunch of anecdotes about people who say they have it without saying anything convincing about how or why they have it. Clear advice about symptoms, how to diagnose it, how to talk to a doctor about it, how to correct unhealthy patterns to avoid it, how to treat it and recover when you do have it, how to help others who have it... I kept hoping they would get to it but eventually gave up. Instead it was a bunch of horror stories to feed off people's hypochondriac tendencies. A good example is how the author "discovered a new type of burnout", with no supporting scientific research or authorities on the subject to weigh in on it. No thanks, not even going to finish this one.

24 of 26 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

good information, but no solution to the problem

good information and examples, but there is not much of a solution proposed. there are larger societal issues at play here that are barely touched on.

54 of 60 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Nothing that adds up to something

A collection of stories, interviews really that all describe a shared experience (being burnt out). A lot of description and talking about a problem, but very little by way of practical advice or solving it. Not worth it if you're looking for more than common sense, but of course there is value in hearing something that resonates with your own experience. But this is nothing more than that.

68 of 77 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Not just millennials...

I enjoyed this quick listen about burnout. Though I feel designating that feeling to a generation is not accurate. I am Generation X, and more align with the term Xennial. I was born in 1977.

I recognize many of the feelings of the interviewees as the same as many of my friends.

This book serves as a reminder, you are not alone in feeling this. Perhaps more a result of our time than our age.

94 of 107 people found this review helpful

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A poorly executed podcast

I was expecting an audiobook with this purchase, but instead received a collection of podcast interviews. The content of these interviews is uninteresting and loses focus of the topic. The delivery seems semi-professional.

11 of 12 people found this review helpful