The age of loud quitting and why everyone’s filming themselves getting fired or resigning on TikTok

By Jack Ramage

Published Mar 8, 2024 at 09:32 AM

Reading time: 7 minutes

“I was overwhelmed with anxiety and emotions, driven by pure frustration.” On a quiet afternoon at an unsuspecting Walmart in Washington, D.C., Kenny, also known as KennyDMV on TikTok, did something that many exhausted and underpaid employees have only dreamt of: he quit his job.

However, this was no typical hand-in-your-notice resignation, it was more of a defiant act, the kind of quitting story you hear on the grapevine. Think swearing at your boss, kicking store equipment, strutting out of the premises in a bold and unapologetic manner—all captured on video, and later posted on TikTok for the world to see.

“I’m about to quit my job on camera, they got me messed up,” Kenny declares in the clip, which has since garnered over 57,000 views on the app. Still clad in his bright blue Walmart uniform, he proceeds to shout at his supervisor, before kicking a trolley full of groceries down the aisle and strutting out of the automatic doors, never to be seen again.

@kennyman_dmv

I Quit My Job at Walmart on Camera #ragequit #funnyvideos #trending #monentsbeforedisaster

♬ original sound - Videokillatv

Some months later, I caught up with Kenny over WhatsApp. His anger has subdued and the now entrepreneurial influencer slash video editor seems to be in better spirits. The connection is spotty and the conversation sometimes stills, with Kenny putting me on hold briefly to focus on IRL responsibilities—a day in the life of a content creator is a busy one, I guess.

“People warned me that I shouldn’t burn the bridge, just in case I have to walk across it again in the future,” Kenny tells me. “I got more negative feedback than positive,” he recalls, giving out a diminished laugh under his breath. But for Kenny, life as a Walmart employee is far behind him. Venting his frustration about being overworked and underpaid by a corporate giant, he adds: “As long as you work for someone else, you’ll work for the rest of your life.”

What is the loud quitting trend?

And Kenny’s sentiments are not unique. Across social media, we’re witnessing a generational shift in our perception of work, with the stigma around discussing pay, work culture, and employee rights fading away. This shift has led to a new wave of TikTok trends where Gen Z individuals are using social media platforms to openly, transparently, and often unapologetically, discuss the low lows that come with corporate life.

The trend of quiet quitting was one such phenomenon, emerging back in 2022, partly in response to the aftermath of the pandemic and the shift towards remote working. It stirred up controversy and caught boomer CEOs off-guard as they attempted to engage their disinterested employees.

However, a more recent trend has emerged in the realm of #QuitTok, a term that both lovingly sums up the way so many young people are feeling right now and also somewhat serves as an antonym to quiet quitting. The term is loud quitting and, as the name suggests, it means recording yourself quitting in a bold and confrontational manner—often calling your employer out on their actions—and then sharing the videos of your experience on TikTok. And, you guessed it, Kenny’s video embodies this trend perfectly.

Why are Gen Z sharing their loud quitting stories on social media?

The #QuitTok and #LoudQuitting trends have racked up millions of views. But why? There are a myriad of reasons why someone would choose to publish their quitting stories to the world. From rising stresses caused by stagnating wages and the cost of living crisis to the aftermath of the pandemic and easier access to starting your own business. But, what this trend has made clear is that this generation is more focused than ever before on normalising the ups and downs of corporate life, both authentically and candidly.

For instance, Savannah Beneventi boldly posted a video on TikTok listing the numerous employers she had quit from—a topic that, just a few decades ago, would have been shrouded in a negative stigma that would’ve been difficult to shake off. However, she is now one of many individuals calling out their former employers and normalising this behaviour. Unprofessional? Perhaps. But the underlying message is clear: don’t stay in a job that makes you unhappy. And it’s hard to argue against that.

@highspeedfan

#greenscreen #jobsearch #jobtips #worklife #joblife #badday #customerservice #customerservicebelike #annoyingjobs #quittingmyjob #rant #story #storytime #funny #relatable #comedy #viral #trending #fypシ

♬ original sound - Savannah Beneventi

“My worst experience was at Dollar General,” Beneventi tells me. “I’ve never worked in such a rundown place—they expect you to work in unsanitary conditions and couldn’t care less,” she continued. As a manager at the company, Beneventi alleges that work conditions were so appalling that there were rat droppings on the products being sold in the store. “Customers were unaware of this—I just didn’t feel comfortable putting those items on the shelves,” she added. After reporting this to her superiors, she was told to “suck it up or leave. So [I] left.”

Gen Z also holds a more transparent and radical perspective on mental health and its relationship with their workspace, explains Beneventi: “In the places I’ve worked, being open about our mental health wasn’t encouraged, which is unfortunate. I believe people shouldn’t remain in environments that negatively impact their mental well-being. That’s why many people are quitting their jobs and sharing their experiences on TikTok. It’s helping to normalise the idea that individuals shouldn’t have to endure conditions they don’t want to be in.”

This sentiment is also shared by Ben, better known as Corporate Sween online, a TikTok creator with over 117,000 followers. His content centres on dissecting the intricacies of corporate life and work culture, often catering to a Gen Z audience. According to Ben: “Mental health is a significant aspect. Young people are placing more emphasis on the quality of their work. I believe the mental health aspect is becoming increasingly important and carries more weight than just a paycheck.”

@corporate.sween

🚩 🚩🚩 #fyp #foryou #corporate #corporatelife #work #workhumor

♬ original sound - corporate sween

“There’s a stigma about Gen Z, portraying them as lazy, needy, and prone to complaining,” Ben continues. “This perspective is often associated with Boomers and maybe even people as young as older millennials. However, I believe this characterization is incorrect. I appreciate what Gen Z is doing [by creating content about work and normalising the subject], including the loud quitting trend.”

A generational shift towards work culture and a gravitation towards authenticity

Generational shifts in work perspectives are evident in new research by GoHenry, a financial education app, which highlights stark differences between Gen Z, Gen Alpha, and other generations when it comes to the traditional 9 to 5 job. The study gathered data from nearly 480,000 UK-based customers and over 2,000 individuals aged 6 to 17 years old, revealing that young people prefer fully flexible roles and bosses with a strong social conscience. Additionally, 42 per cent expressed a preference for jobs that positively impact society, even if they don’t offer high pay.

“We know that young people have high expectations when it comes to what they want from work, so it’s not surprising that Gen Z are quitting their jobs to find roles they can truly thrive in,” Louis Hill, CEO and co-founder of GoHenry, told SCREENSHOT. “It’s inspiring to see younger generations so confident about what they want and don’t want from their future careers. Growing up amid Covid and the cost of living crisis, it’s unsurprising that so many young people have developed such strong views and employers must listen or risk losing out on top talent,” Hill continued.

Another expert I spoke to was Dr. Caterina Presi, Associate Professor of Marketing Practice at the University of Leeds. According to Presi: “It’s very important to be authentic [when creating online content] Gen Z can see through things; they need to feel understood in the content they consume or produce. Gen Z is not a homogeneous group; they are diverse and need to feel represented.”

But it’s not all doom, gloom and flipping off your boss

Don’t fear, it’s not all tiny violins and doom-scrolling—loud quitting has a positive meaning too. Many netizens are sharing the beneficial aspects of taking the leap and quitting their jobs to pursue their dreams and passions. Take Fabrizio Moroni, for example, who posted a viral TikTok showcasing the exhilarating experience of leaving his job to pursue his passions full-time.

@fabriamour

when I first accepted this job I thought I would be able to make a 9-5 and my content creation both fit in my schedule. I was wrong. I overestimated my ability to be present everywhere at once and to show up equally to all things I commit to. Unfortunately, it didn’t take that long to realize that if you commit to many things, you’re not actually committed to any. So I had to make a choice. Creating for you (and me) is the greatest honor and the only thing that actually fulfills me. Every single day I receive hundreds of DMs and comments saying that, in a way or another, my content has been helpful, either to make someone laugh or to navigate life as an expat. Every single day some of you stop me in the streets of Paris and thank me for what I do. When it’s actually me thanking you for the immense love and support you show me. It will never be forgotten. This was not an easy choice, but as you can see, it was the one that made me happy. Excited to see what’s next for us ❤️‍🩹 Yours Fabri

♬ youre so cute - averyyyy

“Pursuing one’s dreams can be scary and risky, but it can also be liberating and empowering,” Moroni explained. “I think it’s important for people to see that there are endless opportunities out there and that the traditional 9 to 5 doesn’t have to be the only option. Knowing that my content has brought a smile to someone’s face or been helpful to them makes me the happiest person in the world,” the influencer continued.

Similarly, Chanelle Nicolas is another Gen Zer who posted a heartwarming and candid recording of her quitting her stable 9 to 5 and received uplifting responses in return. “A huge part of hitting ‘post’ was for me to be able to document my own progress and growth. I wanted to show them that it is possible to quit your job, find another, or take on a completely new journey,” Nicolas shared.

@thesocialtwenty

Her mood went from 😀 to 😦 real quick but they've been nothing but kind and supportive during my time there #iquitmyjob #quittingmyjob #socialmediamanager #selfemployedlife

♬ original sound - The Social Twenty | SMM

TikTok is a valuable platform to hold employers to account too

On a broader scale, social media serves as a powerful tool for holding employers accountable—with TikTok being particularly potent due to its ability for content to go mega-viral. For instance, Brittany Pietsch went viral after sharing a video of her being fired from her job as an account executive just three months after being hired. The video included the conversation between Pietsch and the HR representatives, who informed her that she was being let go due to not meeting Cloudflare’s performance expectations.

@screenshothq

Brittany Pietsch (@brittanypeachhh) has gone viral after sharing a video of her being laid off from Cloudflare without reason. The 9-minute tiktok shows a calm and collected Brittany on in a virtual meeting with Cloudflare HR representatives, where she confronts them about the reasons behind her termination for which they have no specific answers. The CEO of Cloudflare responded in a tweet. #cloudflare #fired #layoffs #brittanypietsch #hr #corperatetiktok #ceo #humanresources

♬ Lost Lifes - Steve Ralph

The clip garnered over 4 million views and sparked a conversation about corporate culture and layoffs in the tech industry. The CEO of Cloudflare, Matthew Prince, responded to the video, acknowledging that it was painful to watch but reiterating that Pietsch was fired for her performance. The CEO also expressed regret over the process, noting that it wasn’t “kind” or “humane,” and committed to improving it going forward.

When is loud quitting a bad idea?

So, while loud quitting and discussing corporate life on the internet have their upsides, particularly in terms of normalising the trials and tribulations of the 9 to 5, it’s also wise to approach this trend with caution. “People should be wary about the digital footprint they leave behind,” says Dr. Presi. In other words, be aware that what you post on the internet is somewhat permanent, and the content you create today could come back to haunt you tomorrow.

On this note, we circle back to Kenny, who disclosed that he has some regrets about the video: “I regret making that guy uncomfortable when I yelled in his face. In hindsight, I should’ve handled it professionally, given my two weeks’ notice. I’m glad no one was hurt, and I didn’t get into any trouble.”

“I’m not keen on social media being a shouting match,” Dr. Presi continues, stressing that young people should exercise caution when choosing to publish their quitting videos on TikTok, and should instead push towards more constructive means of conversation. “Even a good cause can be lost in the noise,” the expert concluded.

Those without financial security or long-term plans should refrain from quitting their jobs—try to not let the allure of a viral video seduce you. However, there is something to be said about this trend and its reflection on how young people view their workplace and, more importantly, how their workplace views them.

As the cost of living crisis continues to bite, with stagnating wages and mass layoffs becoming more common, and with the threat of AI taking away jobs added into the mix, many young people feel they are left with little choice but to vent their frustrations on TikTok. Until we address the root causes behind this trend, we won’t be seeing the end of QuitTok anytime soon.

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