I’ve been thinking about this since yesterday; since my job-interview process. The working conditions were kind of chaotic; I assume (as I suggested in my previous post) this is something working at home for a while unprepares you for.
I used to work in a large open-plan office of many workstations. But I don’t remember it as being so chaotic as yesterday’s experience. I suppose it might not have been; I also wonder if SOHO environments are actually less disorganised than we like to presume.
I’ve spent the last six months or so saying working from home is a damn difficult task. You don’t miss the office politics – yet you do miss the good-hearted banter of colleagues in the same boat as yourself. You don’t miss the wasted commuting-time – yet you do miss the exercise, the getting away from it all, which working away from your leisure (ie not-work) context is bound to provide you with. You don’t miss the boss – yet you do miss the conveniences, and they are considerable, of PAYE.
The world, in general, is getting less and less like the above, of course. The experience of work my previous paragraph delineates is perhaps a world already lost for the majority of us. As they say in their seminars, those ones which prepare you for unemployment, where we used to have work paths we now only have crazy paving.
More and more the chaos of crazy paving invades our lives. To give us some sense of order, it was once enough to read a newspaper every morning and watch a soap opera every evening.
That was in a world where crazy-paving careers didn’t really exist. Now they are becoming the norm, it’s no longer enough by far.
Is this, then, why we love social networks so much? Or, at least, part of the reason …
I realised, after yesterday’s experience, how used I have become – maybe unnaturally used – to working in places of peace and quiet. No wonder I’m accurate: I structure the noise levels; decide when and how; close the door on others whenever I want. SOHO environments, at their best, allow you to do this. After yesterday’s experience, I wonder if in fact I haven’t needed far more of what the past three years have been than I realised.
I work poorly in noise and absence of structure. As you saw from my previous post, this is self-evident. But is my inability to embrace such spaces due to infirmity – or, rather, to an assertive, maybe even belligerent, resistance to being steamrollered by lazy hierarchies?
Where you could go that extra mile as a boss and provide a decent working environment, you choose not to because so much of your workforce shows no expectations of anything better. Or, maybe, doesn’t need anything better.
On the other hand, if you want your staff to go the extra mile, shouldn’t you do the same when the opportunities present themselves?
With respect to this need to make everything logical and rational, this – I think (at least as I write these words) – is what I feel social networks, in a crazy-paving career and non-career world, do for us right now: a little paradoxically, they allow us the sensation of control over not just our virtual but also our outside worlds. We call real people when we want; we ignore them when we choose. We like or forget this or that notification of sentiments which belong to flesh-and-blood human beings.
We even create a data silence of sorts at the push of a terribly easy button. (How empowering is that act, in a world where data supposedly rules.)
When and if it becomes too much, that is.
And rather than being an ever-increasing overload of data, social networks actually fulfil the key, shared, quite common necessity of a life in chaotic decay: to make you believe that not all is lost.
Instead of being a horrendous wall of noise, as some people see social networks, perhaps we should interpret them as being a last-ditched saviour of humankind’s continuing desire to be able to say “no”. “No” to unwanted noise; “no” to unwanted interruption; “no” to unwanted invasions of privacy even.
Quite the contrary to what they’ve taught us all along.
Curious how going out into the outside world can make you see your inside world so differently.