The Nightmare of the Chinese 996 Work Week: A Terrifying Prospect for America…but not really cuz we lazy

Steph Wynne
3 min readMar 17, 2023
My image created by DALL-E

Imagine a world where the line between work and life is blurred to the point of being almost nonexistent, where an average person spends 72 hours at work each week, and where mental health issues and physical exhaustion become the norm. This may sound like a dystopian nightmare, but it is, in fact, the reality for many workers in China under the controversial “996” work schedule.

As America looks to stay competitive in the global economy, there are growing concerns that this brutal work culture might cross the Pacific and take root in the United States. Let’s delve into the chilling implications of the 996 work week and the consequences it could have on American society.

The 996 Work Week: A Brief Overview

The 996 work week in China refers to a schedule where employees work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week. This amounts to 72 hours of work per week, a staggering 44% increase over the standard 40-hour work week in the United States. The 996 system has been adopted by numerous Chinese companies, particularly in the technology sector, to stay competitive in the global market.

Frightening Consequences for American Workers

If the 996 work week were to become the norm in the United States, the effects on American workers would be terrifying. Here are some of the most alarming consequences:

  1. Mental Health Crisis: With an increase in working hours and a decrease in leisure time, mental health issues would likely skyrocket. Stress, anxiety, and depression could become commonplace, leading to a significant decline in the overall quality of life.
  2. Physical Health Deterioration: Long work hours are directly linked to numerous health issues, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, and diabetes. With the 996 work week, American workers would face an increased risk of developing these conditions, leading to a potential public health crisis.
  3. Family and Relationships: The work-life balance would be severely disrupted, resulting in strained relationships and a decline in family life. The impact on children could be particularly devastating, as parents would have less time to nurture and support their growth and development.
  4. Burnout and Productivity: The initial boost in productivity due to longer work hours could be short-lived, as burnout and exhaustion would take a toll on workers. In the long run, the 996 work week could prove to be counterproductive, with employees experiencing a decline in both mental and physical well-being.
  5. Widening Income Inequality: As companies seek to maximize profits by extracting more labor from their employees, income inequality may worsen. The 996 work week could lead to an even greater divide between the rich and the poor in American society.

The Haunting Future

If America were to embrace the 996 work week, the country could face a future fraught with mental and physical health crises, broken families, and widening income inequality. The prospect of this dystopian reality should serve as a wake-up call for American society to prioritize work-life balance, fair labor practices, and the well-being of its citizens over the never-ending pursuit of profits and economic growth.

As Americans, it’s crucial that we stand up against the encroachment of the 996 work week and protect the values that have made our nation strong. The nightmare of the 996 work week may be a reality in China, but it doesn’t have to be our future.

Thing is what job would an an American do for 996 if the top ten jobs in America are:

  • Retail salespersons
  • Cashiers
  • Food preparation and serving workers
  • Office clerks, general
  • Registered nurses
  • Customer service representatives
  • Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand
  • Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping cleaners
  • Stock clerks and order fillers
  • Waiters and waitresses

Just sayin’

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