A profile of Succession actor Jeremy Strong in the New Yorker last month caused a stir by presenting him in a largely unflattering light. Among other things, he came across as annoyingly driven and intense, and one line in particular stood out to writer and digital media strategist Elizabeth Spiers: “I’d never met anyone else at Yale with that careerist drive," recalled a former classmate. In an essay in the New York Times, Spiers writes that it's the term "careerist" that bugs her, a term that has been applied to her as well. Like Strong, she was raised by working-class parents and attended a big university (in her case, Duke) thanks to financial aid. "There’s an unmistakably negative connotation to the word 'careerist,'" writes Spiers, who was a founding editor at Gawker.
"It is a dismissive insult often deployed against people who have the temerity to transcend their economic class," she writes. Typically, the term is used by someone privileged enough not to have to worry about, well, a career. "We strivers cannot behave as if things come easily because pretending that they do often requires resources we lack," writes Spiers. "We are 'unchill' because we have neither the time nor the money to assemble the accouterments of chill, or to perform it." Read the full essay, in which Spiers explores "class resentment" in Europe and the US, finding that it flows not only from the working class toward the elites but in the opposite direction as well. (Read more Jeremy Strong stories.)