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Work, not gadgets, is keeping you disconnected from the real world

Illustration for article titled Work, not gadgets, is keeping you disconnected from the real world

Over at the Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal has a terrific essay about the problem with blaming gadgets for our inability to "unplug" from work. The issue isn't that our gadgets are addictive, he argues. Instead, it's that middle class professionals are tethered to their workplaces via their gadgets — often 24 hours per day. Blaming shiny new tablets and social media apps for our absence from the real world is distracting us from placing blame where it's due: On jobs where bosses demand unreasonable working hours.


Madrigal writes:

Imagine if 19th-century factory workers blamed the clock for the length of their work days. The answer to the horrible working conditions of the late 19th century was not to smash the clocks or the steam engines! The solution was to organize and fight for your right to a 40-hour week and paid vacations.

Much of our compulsive connectedness (insofar as it exists) is a symptom of a greater problem, not the problem itself.


Read the whole essay at The Atlantic.

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Dr Emilio Lizardo

On the other hand, gadgets have freed me up a little.

Some things have to be done by me. I have to review and sign off on every piece of paper. Whenever I take a vacation, coming back is hell. I literally have piles of things to wade through. If I can do it without interruption, it takes about 3 hours so sometimes I come in on Sunday or very early Monday morning when I get back.

Now that we have an electronic health record, many of those things are available for review from anywhere I have an internet connection. Every few days I can log on and sign a few hundred normal tests and delegate instructions on many of the abnormals so I don't come back to a massive pile anymore. I can do this by the pool, while I am waiting for my wife to get ready for dinner, if I wake up early, if I want a half hour away from my book, anytime. I can pick and choose what I do and I am disciplined enough to make it work for me and not get dragged into real work, I am just clearing the excess so I don't have that huge mountain on return.

So the way I see it, connectivity is a tool to be managed, just like everything else. Set limits, keep to those limits and make it work for you. Granted, I'm the boss so nobody is telling me that I have to do it but I bet alot of bosses does things the same way and besides, if he doesn't respect your time off, maybe you need a new boss.