Workplace Counter-Culture – 4/20

By Deanna Bonaparte

‘4/20’ – You may remember staccato flashes of this term in vaguely-recalled places, or have even heard about it in songs and movies.

Or perhaps you know zilch about it.

How is 4/20 significant, you may ask? In fact, 4/20 (pronounced as “four-twenty”) has been an unorthodox symbol for nearly 30 years. What started out as an underground term managed to crawl its way into the mainstream, becoming – for better or for worse – a commercialised statement.

Some people might remember April 20 as Hitler’s birthday; but no, 4/20 isn’t about commemorating the birth of a genocidal murderer. One thing is undisputed – April 20 is the anniversary of yet another buzzkill.

The Reign of 4/20
Turn the clock back to 1971 – A group of five San Rafael High School friends who called themselves the Waldos (by virtue of their chosen hangout spot, a wall outside the school) coined the term ‘4/20’ to insinuate their meeting time of 4.20pm. Intent on developing their own discreet language, they made ’4/20’ code for consuming cannabis (aka marijuana).

Today, 20 April has become a counterculture holiday in North America. We’re not playing the Devil’s Advocate and suggesting going on a weed binge, but April 20 doesn’t have to bear the full brunt of a buzzkill – instead, 4/20 should represent an occasion to embrace the essence of free-spiritedness and fellowship, especially in the workplace.

In Singapore, it could be a date where stressed-out working professionals across the nation take a step out of their work bubble to be as merry as the day is long.

The Free-Spirited Movement
Given the turbulent work culture of today, we have become enthralled – almost obsessed – with our work. We forget to connect with the things and the people around us. Perhaps the closest we come to connecting with something outside our shell of work is when we make up zombie apocalypse scenarios in our heads, or fantasise about a fatter paycheck (The former does not come close to reality, while the matter of the latter is debatable).

Living on the hinge of free-spiritedness could be as simple as finally planning for that globetrotting escapade you’ve been putting off for way too long due to work and other commitments, or it could mean picking up the paintbrush in attempts to unearth your inner Picasso.

This 20 April, Singapore workers should adopt the mantle of free-spiritedness (for at least one day) amongst ourselves and better engage with the places and the people around us. Take time to have meaningful conversations with your colleagues and your family, and spare a moment to appreciate the lone security guard faithfully abiding by his duty.

And of course, live life to the full. Happy 4/20!


Do you know of any other workplace counter-cultures? Share with us in the comment box below!

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