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Anne Helen Petersen: Can't Even w/ special guests

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Anne Helen Petersen talks about her new book, Can't Even, with Elamin Abdelmahmoud, Bim Adewunmi, Scaachi Koul & Caroline Moss!

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An incendiary examination of burnout in millennials—the cultural shifts that got us here, the pressures that sustain it, and the need for drastic change

Do you feel like your life is an endless to-do list? Do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram because you’re too exhausted to pick up a book? Are you mired in debt, or feel like you work all the time, or feel pressure to take whatever gives you joy and turn it into a monetizable hustle? Welcome to burnout culture.

While burnout may seem like the default setting for the modern era, in Can’t Even, BuzzFeed culture writer and former academic Anne Helen Petersen argues that burnout is a definitional condition for the millennial generation, born out of distrust in the institutions that have failed us, the unrealistic expectations of the modern workplace, and a sharp uptick in anxiety and hopelessness exacerbated by the constant pressure to “perform” our lives online. The genesis for the book is Petersen’s viral BuzzFeed article on the topic, which has amassed over seven million reads since its publication in January 2019.

Can’t Even goes beyond the original article, as Petersen examines how millennials have arrived at this point of burnout (think: unchecked capitalism and changing labor laws) and examines the phenomenon through a variety of lenses—including how burnout affects the way we work, parent, and socialize—describing its resonance in alarming familiarity. Utilizing a combination of sociohistorical framework, original interviews, and detailed analysis, Can’t Even offers a galvanizing, intimate, and ultimately redemptive look at the lives of this much-maligned generation, and will be required reading for both millennials and the parents and employers trying to understand them.

A former senior culture writer for BuzzFeed, Anne Helen Petersen now writes her newsletter, Culture Study, as a full-time venture on Substack. Petersen received her PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, where she focused on the history of celebrity gossip. Her previous books, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud and Scandals of Classic Hollywood, were featured in NPR, Elle, and the Atlantic. She lives in Missoula, Montana.

Elamin Abdelmahmoud is a culture writer for BuzzFeed News and the host of Pop Chat, a weekly pop culture podcast from CBC. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, the Guardian, and Globe and Mail. His debut collection of essays, Son of Elsewhere, will arrive in the fall of 2021. He's on Twitter at @elamin88.

Bim Adewunmi is a journalist and radio producer working at This American Life. She is co-host, with Nichole Perkins, of Thirst Aid Kit, a podcast that explores pop culture and the performance of female desire. Her writing has been featured in 'Best American Magazine Writing' 2018 and her feature about romance novel publishing won the 2019 Veritas Award from the Romance Writers of America, and is being adapted for television. Her debut play, Hoard, was published in 2019 and premiered at the Arcola Theatre that spring.

Scaachi Koul is a culture writer at BuzzFeed News, the host of the weekly podcast, Not Great With Scaachi Koul, and the author of One Day We'll All Be Dead And None Of This Will Matter.

Caroline Moss is the co-author of HEY LADIES! with Michelle Markowitz and the author of the Work It, Girl series — kids books about women in business. She has spent the last decade writing, editing, and producing for Business Insider, CNBC, The Today Show and BuzzFeed, and currently hosts popular product rec podcast "Gee Thanks, Just Bought It!" produced by Forever35's Doree Shafrir and Kate Spencer. After ten years in New York City, Caroline now lives in Los Angeles.

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