In 2022, the first Oxford word of the year to be chosen by public vote was ‘goblin mode’, a slang term catapulted to social media stardom by feral gen Zers with potentially too much time on their hands. Though we’re only a month into 2023, it wouldn’t be unsurprising to anyone if ‘mass layoff’ clinched this year’s title.
As the economy flatlines, people are finding new ways to utilise online platforms in order to spread awareness about this growing movement of widespread redundancies—particularly within the tech industry. Currently, the phrase ‘life after layoff’ has been viewed 332.7 million times on TikTok and it’s becoming more and more apparent that former employees’ sacked stories are on their way to becoming the biggest trend of 2023.
Although we would never want to minimise the genuine upset and impact these mass layoffs have had on so many individuals, it’s important to note that the recent upheaval within the tech industry has created space for incredibly authentic and healthy testimonies from young professionals coping and ultimately accepting the fact that their career trajectory has changed.
So far, Twitter, Tesla, Spotify, Amazon and Microsoft have all issued major layoffs, and mind you, we’re only four weeks into the year.
However, among all these companies, one of the biggest culling culprits has been tech mogul Google. Refocusing its attention on the potential of AI (artificial intelligence) and floundering after the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google’s parent company Alphabet announced that it would be laying off 12,000 employees on 20 January 2023.
Layoff testimonies have been circulating online for a short time now. Be it airing grievances, dishing on company gossip or seeking validation from others, gen Zers have always taken to social media when it comes to reconstructing, reliving and retelling every facet of their lives.
However, the recent upsurge of Google redundancies in particular exploded with interest online. I mean, it makes sense. Google employees have been known to relentlessly flaunt their luxurious working lives online. From gourmet lunches to an onsite masseuse, company insiders truly sold a spectacular image of what it was like to work at the prestigious multinational technological organisation.
But what comes up often must come down, and after the recent boom of layoffs, former Google employees also found themselves creating videos explaining their thoughts on the matter and, more importantly, documenting how their daily lives had changed.
Nik Pollina, an online creator and former Google employee of five years, is one such individual to participate in this growing trend. In a video titled Day one of life after getting laid off, Pollina explained how even though “on paper” her life appeared to have gone downhill, in reality, she was really content with the situation and considered it a sign that she should pursue other career avenues that she’d already been contemplating.
Social media creator Nicole Tsai, also a former Google employee, actually filmed the day where she discovered she was being laid off and shared it with her 35,000 followers on TikTok. From the video, it seems apparent that very few senior management were aware of the extent of the layoffs, a chaotic firing experience that Tsai described as “Russian roulette.”
In classic gen Z style, Tsai wrapped her daily layoff vlog by eating her feelings at Disneyland:
As previously mentioned, Google is by no means the first tech giant to initiate such mass layoffs. According to data analysts Crunchbase, more than 46,000 workers in US-based tech companies have been laid off in mass job cuts so far in 2023. And it doesn’t seem like the sacking spike is about to drop any time soon.
While it’s important to recognise how incredibly painful this process has been for some, it’s also encouraged and allowed for greater transparency and understanding in regard to unemployment, job insecurity and career upheaval—something older generations often shy away from.
Some boomers may consider gen Zers irresponsible and irrational when it comes to sharing their lives online, and to some degree, they might have a point. Although, personally I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of the ‘Dating Wrapped’ videos.
In these uncertain times, social media can be an incredibly healing place for communities of individuals to help one another and collectively ponder the future.
Videos detailing the best tips and tricks for handling your first few days of unemployment have already begun to circulate online. Mental health deterioration is highly associated with job insecurity and with gen Zers’ levels of anxiety and depression at an all time high, it’s crucial people feel as though there are digestible resources for them online.
In terms of what’s in store for the rest of this year, it’s a worrying prospect. The cost of living crisis is showing no signs of slowing down and it’s been predicted by Fortune that big tech companies could lay off another 20 per cent of employees. So, with so much turmoil in the air, it’s highly likely that unemployment influencers might just become the top creators of 2023.