Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Working 24/7

The curse of modern technology is that we now have the ability - even the obligation - to serve The Man around the clock. Cellphones, pagers, DSL and cable internet access allow us no escape from the workplace, and no excuse not to respond to our master as soon as we hear his voice. And hear his voice we will. We are instantly available to our bosses, whether we are attending a school play, or lying on the sand at Waikiki, or sitting in our doctor's office waiting to learn of our imminent demise from stress disease. Privacy may be the artifact of a technologically backward society, but once upon a time it allowed the human body and soul a respite from the demands of the workplace - an opportunity to recuperate, and to reestablish our bond with our loved ones. We sometimes even transformed this dark wilderness of downtime into a magical domain of our very own through the black arts of solitude and introspection. A kind of boundary existed between work and life, a palisades behind which we nurtured those outmoded and primitive things we once called love, leisure and family. That boundary is no longer there. The inexorable advance of science has perfected the scope of our servitude. We can no longer escape an awareness that we may be called to work at any time. This is as oppressive, and as much a perversion of technology, as being forced to sleep with all the lights on. Should we protest, clinging atavistically to the quietness of our private lives, we are likely to lose our chance to earn a living at all. After all, if we are not willing to labor 24/7, there is always someone else who is.

"Business's new task: turning off Firms, workers have to draw the line between work, home" from the Boston Globe

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