Aspirational workday vlogs once dominated TikTok — but following mass layoffs across the tech industry, videos flexing company perks have been replaced with content about unemployment and labor rights.
The past few months have been particularly brutal in the tech sector, as industry giants slash their workforces amid a stagnating global economy. Google’s parent company, Alphabet, announced 12,000 layoffs this week, days after Microsoft announced plans to cut 10,000 employees. Meta, Salesforce, Twitter, Snap and other tech companies have also announced layoffs in recent months.
The grim reality of the layoffs chips away at the facade of tech employee office vlogs, which frequently showed glamorous corporate perks like catered lunches, campus gym facilities and sponsored happy hours. The genre, which became popular last year, portrayed a seemingly unattainable lifestyle. Now, many creators have pivoted to posting raw — but still curated — content about unemployment. Others are using their platforms to raise awareness of labor rights in wake of recent layoffs.
The TikTok users that NBC News contacted did not respond to requests for comment, but their videos about their layoff experiences continue to go viral.
In one “day in the life” video posted last year, for example, an account strategist at Google documented valeting her car for free and taking a break in the “nap room" before attending a meeting in a Harry Potter-themed conference room. A program manager at Microsoft showed off her lunch of red wine braised short ribs and her coffee break at the company’s in-house cafe in another “day in the life” video. She captioned it, “I spent $0 today.”
The company perks extended to working from home, too.
Earlier this month, a TikTok creator who goes by the username nicolesdailyvlog posted an "unboxing" video — the employee appreciation package she received from Google. The box included a plush blanket, a cold brew coffee machine and other branded gifts.
“This is such a nice gift, and I can’t wait until they send us another one!” she said in the video.
A week later, she posted a video titled “A Day in My Life Getting Laid Off at Google,” in which she said she woke up to an “ominous text” from her manager, and found out that she had lost access to her work accounts. After spending the day crying, she said, she went to Disneyland to cheer herself up.
Her video is one of the most viral post-layoff vlogs, but this shift in content has been gaining traction for months as thousands of workers face unemployment.
Layoff announcements seem to follow the same format as breakup videos. Many creators are somber when announcing that they’ve been laid off, and may become emotional in their videos.
One creator, who said she was a former recruiter for Meta, shared that she was “feeling all of the feelings” after her layoff but expressed optimism for her future.
“I know that the universe has wonderful things in store for me, and I’ve survived 100% of things up to this point,” she said.
Another creator announced his layoff in a jaunty TikTok captioned, “when your amazing tech job lays you off after signing a 12 MONTH LEASE since we had to return to office.”
Some creators have taken a more earnest approach.
One former Meta employee, known as alejandra_n_h, has been posting daily vlogs about her mental health and applying for other jobs. Another laid-off tech worker started a job search accountability group that hosts virtual meetings for members to support and advise one another throughout the job application ordeal.
Others announced they decided to leave the corporate world entirely. Creator itsBaileyMaya, who recounted her layoff experience in a “storytime” video, said she was one of the highest performers at her job at an unnamed “big tech” company. She realized that she was laid off last week when she was locked out of her laptop.
“I just didn’t see this coming, but I’m kind of excited now because I can do my own thing,” she said in a video posted this week. “And even though I’m 25, I don’t really want to do a nine to five anymore. So yeah, I’m unemployed, but I have a hell of a lot of confidence in myself.”
Educating viewers about their rights has also gained popularity after recent layoffs.
TikTok user alberta.nyc, a Google software engineer and self-described “tech cynic," has made videos about the importance of unions in the tech industry. In a recent “day in the life” office video, alberta.nyc showed viewers a copy of what appears to be the Alphabet Workers Union’s letter writing event to support laid-off coworkers.
When TikTok user hiitsmeming shared that she had been laid off by Meta a month before her baby was due, other creators stitched her video with advice for signing up for health insurance with lower premiums.
As layoffs peaked late last year, TikTok creator millennialcorpmom urged viewers to familiarize themselves with their state’s employment laws, so they could ensure that they’re paid their full wages. Creator Celine Hui similarly encouraged viewers to negotiate their severance pay before agreeing to sign any legal documents, which surprised commenters.
Though approaches to layoff content varies, many creators have embraced camaraderie with others while documenting their unemployment. In a video, creator alejandra_n_h expressed solidarity with former Amazon employees who had been affected by recent layoffs.
“So much of our worth and success has always been tied to our career and the name of our employer,” Hernandez said. “And I think that’s why I had such a hard time with these layoffs because I have always been very career driven. But we need to remind ourselves that we are more than our career, our employer, our job ... I am here in solidarity with you and I do firmly believe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”