Woman Says Professionalism In The Workplace Should 'Burn' — 'It's A Control Mechanism Powerful People Use'

Many people can't believe she holds this opinion.

woman bashes professionalism tiktok TikTok via @chaotic_philosopher

Is professionalism something that should have been left in the past? One Alaska-based woman, Sarah Trefren, seems to think so.

She's a self-proclaimed "chaotic philosopher" on the video-sharing app TikTok. She recently sparked a heated debate about the nature and role of professionalism in the contemporary workplace.

Trefren, a frequent commentator on politics and economics, delivered a message that called for the deconstruction of the established norms of professionalism, branding it as a tool of control exerted by the powerful elites.


She said professionalism in the workplace should 'burn' since 'it's a control mechanism powerful people use.'

As part of a viral trend, she used is0kenny's hit song "Speak Up" to present a sequence of common sayings heard in the workplace, each followed by the provocative phrase, "Speak up." Beneath the veneer of these seemingly innocent statements, she insinuated a more sinister underlying truth.



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The video began with a statement echoing a common opinion. "Yes, we need professionalism. It's important," Trefren conveyed, via superimposed text on the video.

Next, she moved on to an old corporate adage designed to instill a sense of discipline and conformity among employees. "Well you need to make a good impression in the workplace," she wrote.

She then underscored an accepted principle that governs social behavior in professional settings, writing, "There's a time and place for certain behaviors and actions." 

Following each of these statements, her lips mimed the words of the accompanying song "Speak Up," with each repetition urging viewers to look beyond the surface and interrogate these perceived truths.


The video ended with her opinion on the truth behind these common statements. "The rich and powerful need to suck every drop of originality and creativity out of working people so they stay in their lane," she wrote.

In the caption of the video, she expanded on her critique of professionalism. "Professionalism is a control mechanism the powerful use on others. It needs to burn," she wrote.

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Her perspective ignited numerous comments from both sides of the debate. 

Some echoed her sentiment, finding truth in her unconventional viewpoint. But many others rebuked her claims vehemently.


"There's no way someone actually thinks professionalism should be destroyed," one person wrote. 

Photo: Shutterstock / fizkes

"You need to 'express your originality' on your own time. While at work, you present yourself as the employer asks you to. Simple," another person added.

Another clarified that professionalism, in part, has to do with the brand image that a company is trying to convey. Though, many others who worked in spaces like the medical field felt that they were able to freely express themselves without having to worry about breaching some sort of professionalism. 


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However, amidst the flurry of agreements and disagreements, one comment added another perspective, aiming to distinguish between creativity and professionalism. 

"There is a difference between being creative and unprofessional. You can show off tattoos and funky hairstyles while still being professional," one person wrote.


In a world grappling with evolving workplace norms, Trefren's bold stance underscores a broader conversation about the role of individuality and how it can be hindered in our professional lives. Whether one agrees with her assertion or not, it's clear that the dialogue she has ignited is one that needs to happen.

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Ethan Cotler is a writer and frequent contributor to YourTango living in Boston. His writing covers entertainment, news, and human interest stories.