Posts Tagged ‘work’

Work addiction

June 3, 2008

A sure sign of addiction is the existence of withdrawl symptoms. For work, these are manifested by a class of behaviors known as “disconnect anxiety“:

Picture this… You’re taking a long weekend hike with your family. You tell jokes, sing silly songs while admiring the trees and streams. You have no cell phone reception, no laptop; you haven’t answered a call, responded to a text or e-mail missive all day. You have absolutely no idea what it is going on at work.

Sixty eight percent of Americans feel anxious when they’re not connected in one way or another, they find, and this “disconnect anxiety”–feelings of disorientation and nervousness when a person is deprived of Internet or wireless for a period of time–affects all age groups, who described their feelings as dazed, tense, inadequate and even panicked.

The study also had a several points of humorously embarrassing data, such as the fact that 63 percent of BlackBerry users admit they have sent a message from the bathroom, and 37 percent of laptop owners said they “frequently” used theirs in the bedroom.

It seems that well off people are leading lives of quiet desperation. They are anxious and stressed at work. When they are not at work, they are even more anxious and stressed because they are anxious and stressed at not keeping up with the things at work that make them anxious and stressed while they are at work.

I don’t think it’s per se “technology addiction” which would include people who are Internet porn addicts, hopelessly absorbed gamers, and sleep deprived and obese bloggers. We may be slaves of the machine, but technology is only the enabler. We are anxious about our work, but even more anxious about not having the job that has the work we are obsessed to do. Not that we aren’t always at work, thanks to the technology. But we are afraid, very afraid. McMansions, private school educations, gasoline, health care — all expensive and way beyond most of our actual means. There’s little middle ground here. The alternative is economic obsolesence and poverty. Poverty is not noble and is quite dangerous. And you could be in poverty, homeless, just like that.



IT work hazardous to health

May 27, 2008

People who work in IT are getting fat and are out of shape. Adding obesity, very poor diets and lack of physical fitness to the list of ills when working in IT. You already knew about carpal tunnel syndrome, back and other problems from sitting in poor position all day long, mental stress from job pressures and at times extremely long hours (all of which in turn contributes to getting fat and poor diets). How many IT people have died from karoshi?


How meaningful is your work?

May 25, 2008

IT people often complain about what they do – the long hours sometimes, the pointlessness of corporate America (or whatever country, fill in the blank _______), the fear of losing their job to outsourcing, the loss of creativity in the job due to ‘process’ and pointy-headed management, the struggle to keep up with the state of the art or buzz in their profession. Often IT people look to get out, either voluntarily, or as would usually be the case, involuntary through layoffs or lack of work due to economic downturns or technological obsolesence. Even with a steady job, that is often highly paid (there has been stagnation or decline in some aspects of the industry), people lack meaning in what they do.

I thought a lot of the issue is due to relativism. It is said that people who live in rural villages in Third World countries are often happier than upper middle class ‘moderns’ in the US or the UK. They are far poorer in material terms, suffer more from disease and deprevation. But within the context of their belief system, the bonds of community and family and spirituality, they are more content. Maybe it’s that they don’t have time or the inclination think about how meaningless their lives are. If their lives are actually meaningless, if our lives are meaningless.

The articles "The best way to find meaning at work? Don’t look for it " and "Aim low to find meaning at work " (public access??) are from Lucy Kellaway, self described agony aunt (Britishism for advice columist) and financial columnist with the Financial Times who I’ve enjoyed reading (when I’ve had ready access to copies of the FT). She writes about, among other things, people, people with very high financial compensation from their work, who are increasingly finding their jobs meaningless. She says, get a grip.

As an agony aunt, I am used to people telling me that their jobs are meaningless. In fact this, is the most popular problem that readers submit. Lawyers, bankers, fund managers and all sorts of people with grand jobs write in with the same complaint: the money may be good but where is the meaning? How can I make a difference, they wail.

In fact, whoever coined the phrase “making a difference” has made a difference, though not a positive one. The phrase gestures towards grandiose achievement that is out of reach for almost everybody. Most of us make very little difference at all – which stands to reason if you think there are 30m workers in Britain alone, making it almost impossible that any of us will make a difference, except to the people we work directly with.

In fact as long as we set our sights low enough we all do make a difference at work. By performing the tasks we are supposed to perform, we are making a difference to our employers. If we weren’t, they would have fired us long ago.