Work-Life Division– and Many Other Boundaries/Distinctions–Disappearing

Internet+ is obsolescing traditional separations; for example, the division between work and the rest of life.  In Marshal McLuhan’s words: “When everyone is more and more involved in the information environment and in the . . . process of discovery and innovation, [that is, when everyone is online] the old [offline] divisions of work, play, and idleness disappear.” (p. 5)  In addition, “boundaries between subjects and teachers and students don’t hold up very well at the speed of light.” (p. 221)

As Jonathan Crary recently put it: The Internet and attendant hard- and software “h[ave] made irrelevant distinctions between work and non-work time, between public and private, between everyday life and organized institutional milieus.” (p.74) “[S]eparation,” he continues, “between the personal and professional, between entertainment and information . . . dissolves, all overridden by a compulsory functionality of communication that is inherently and inescapably 24/7.” (pp. 75-76.)

“Don’t even try for work-life balance” says the title of a Chicago Tribune article about today’s professionals.  It’s not “realistic” because work-life balance “preaches separation.”  Instead, “break work into sessions, make a weekly hierarchy list,establish daily work themes,” and take other actions that “start to achieve harmony and integration of your work and life in which it will become one entity instead of separate pieces.”

To be sure, this integration can be hindered by work requirements dictated by higher-ups, family obligations and crises, and so on.  Even so, an integrated life–or even an approximation to it–is a better, more satisfying, life the a life of separate pieces.  When life–say, a two-week vacation–is separate from work and it rains those two weeks, the whole year is shot.  Better to integrate work and life and increase the possibility of more satisfaction throughout the whole year.

About georgebeam

George Beam is an educator and author. The perspectives that inform his interpretations of the topics of this blog–-as well as his other writings and university courses -–are system analysis, behaviorism, and Internet effects. Specific interests include quality management, methodology, and politics. He is Associate Professor Emeritus, Department of Public Administration; Affiliated Faculty, Department of Political Science; and, previously, Head, Department of Public Administration, University of Illinois at Chicago
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