Post industrialization and advent of capitalism, the intensity, type and consequently approach to work changed drastically. A growing dichotomy was observed in what one did to earn money and what one did for happiness. This development gave growth to the concept of a work-life balance to define proper prioritization between one’s work and one’s lifestyle in order to have a balanced and happy life.
While work-life balance has received a lot of attention and it is something that everyone aspires to, in reality it is very difficult to achieve. It can be nearly impossible to realise it without major backing at one’s place of work.
One of the factors that has always impacted this balance is technology. And lately one finds that technology is once again threatening to overpower this already fragile concept. With the advent of laptops and smartphones, we are in a ‘always-on’ mode.
Easy access to email, apps that allow us to do our work on the phone, growing acceptance of virtual meetings and workplace – all of this has added a whole lot of flexibility. But at the same time it has also made the separation of office and work difficult. Work and the constant pressure to deliver almost always follows us back home.
How many times do you find yourself reading your work emails before you are lying in bed? Or checking in with the office from the beach or nature park while on vacation?
The other part of the story is our almost pathological need to stay constantly updated with social media – twitter, facebook, snapchat, whatsapp. As many options and as many desires. This has impacted the quality of social relationships not just at the community level but within families as well. How many memes are there of families at the dinner table, or friends sitting together with everyone’s head stuck to their phone? We keep searching for virtual connections at the cost of our real relationships.
Devices have taken over our lives. We cannot bear to be separated from them for more than a few minutes, whether we need them or not. We work with them, eat with them, sleep with them, even go to the bathroom with them. They have become an extension of our very selves. And this augmented life is doing more harm than good.
Anxiety attacks when not able to find a phone are a real thing. And one can only imagine what it portends for our mental state in the future.
So don’t wait. Put down that phone. And go have a real conversation with your coworker or friend or family member or maybe even that stranger walking past you. In the name of sanity, why not?