Several years ago, I posted what I believed was a totally uncontroversial article: Anyone Who Claims to Work 18 Hours a Day Is Either Lying or Stupid. Over the past month, though, I've been receiving panicked emails and DMs from the Philippines, where the article has become part of conversation about their presidential election. Here's a typical message:
Wondering if you are aware of Senator Imee Marcos, citing your article ... to gaslight her brother's competitor-candidate (current Philippine VP Leni Robredo) for President of the Philippines. They created a skit (entirely in Filipino) basically saying that Leni, who mentioned in an interview that she works 18 hours a day doing her work for the Office of the VP, is stupid for saying so.
I know nothing about the politics of the Philippines, but I do know this: Nobody works 18 hours a day on a consistent basis. Health care workers and emergency personnel do sometimes work 18 hours in a 24-hour period; so do entrepreneurs during crunch time. But nobody works 18 hours a day on average, because getting only 6 hours a sleep a night (and that's leaving no time whatsoever to eat or attend to bodily functions) simply isn't sustainable. Medicine.net explains:
You can survive on six hours of sleep but that would not be good for your long-term health. Getting less sleep can make you drowsy, which can increase your risk of sleep deprivation and sleep disorders, resulting in falls and road accidents. Doctors recommend that most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep to maintain positive mental health. Sleeping for six hours or less can have many short-term and long-term detrimental effects on your body.
In retrospect, though, I'm not sure that people who claim to work 18 hours a day on average are exactly "lying." People say "18 hours a day" not because they're being precise, but because their perception is that they're working so hard they don't have time to anything else. It's a little like saying "I just ate a ton of potato chips"--exaggeration for emphasis rather than an exact measurement.
The problem here, though, is that if somebody actually did work 18 hours a day on average, the quality of their work would quickly decline and end up doing damage rather than making things better. It's a lesson that some industries (the video game industry comes to mind) take a long time to learn.
Anyway, I wish everyone in the Philippines well and hope it all works out for the best.