We’re on a hybrid work schedule, like most people in the services procession. My field, I.T., both leverages and enables it. I like a lot of things about it: more time to exercise, less money on lunches and clothes, and a whole lot less stress in the morning.

But there’s something wrong.

We experience societal shifts, like the end of the Cold War or technological disruption like Smartphones and we talk about “massive change.”

But those are trivial in the overall scheme of things the Cold War lasted 40 years and the telephone (any electronic communication really) has been around less than 200.

On the other hand, ever since humans started hunting and gathering, we’ve been “going to” work. For Homo Sapiens that’s 200,000 years. For Hominid type species as a whole that’s 1.8 million years!

Remote work makes sense for the environment. It makes sense for time management, it makes sense on so many levels.

What I’m worried about is our mental health. What I’m worried about is the health of our society.

A lot of days at work, there is no one to talk with. I have a best friend at work which is fortunate, but when she is not there, it’s lonely. At home is family, which is great. But some people don’t have anyone at home. And that means you’re alone for a big part of your day. A big part of your week. A big part of your life.

It’s a narrowing of our circles. If you have a big family and many friends outside of work that’s good. You’ll have company, however, you will not have the friction of dealing with people you did not choose. We gravitate towards what feels comfortable and safe. People that think like us. People that don’t challenge us.

We kid ourselves, that we can build meaningful interactions on video calls. I have made friends online sure, but they are not, cannot be deep friendships.

You’ll never comfort the co-worker that you see crying at her desk, because you’ll never see her. Maybe no one will ever see her. You’ll never ask someone why he’s limping and then laugh with him when he tells you what happened.

Sometimes those are the smallest things. Sometimes they are the biggest.

One response to “Empty”

  1. Although I agree with your basic thought that most relationships are deeper in person rather than on video calls, there are exceptions. My very best friend and I have only met in person twice. The last time was ten years ago. We have helped each other through many joyous and heartbreaking times over the years. Additionally we text daily and talk on the phone several times a week totaling several hours. However I would agree with you that our relationship would be better if we could meet in person but in our case that isn’t possible.
    What I believe is a scary trend regarding working alone from home are those who choose to be alone. Also, those who prefer to interact with others hidden behind their electronic devices. I have several nephews that have zero skills when it comes to in-person relationships. They don’t know how to communicate with another person eye to eye. COVID made things worse but their problems started 10-15 years ago when their parents gave them smartphones. They went from being outgoing young teenagers to introverts in less than two years. It’s pretty sad and the are unknown millions of others just like them in this country.

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