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Technology

Is Technology Killing Leisure Time? 344

Posted by JonKatz
from the a-wired-up-world-where-work-never-ends dept.
New surveys suggest that ubiquitous technological tools are killing off leisure time, especially for younger workers and students -- that would be you -- who are working longer hours, taking fewer and shorter vacations (when they do go away, they take their cells, Palms and laptops along) and say they are more stressed than any other segment of the population. Opportunistic employers aren't helping, actually encouraging employees to do personal chores on the Net -- from their desks. Wasn't technology supposed to free us from workplace shackles?

Americans for centuries have believed that new labor saving devices will free us from the burdens of the workplace and give us more time to ponder philosophy, goof off, explore the arts, and hang around with friends and family.

So here we are at the start of the 21st Century, enjoying one of the greatest technological boom times in human history, and nothing could be further from the truth.

The very tools that were supposed to liberate us have bound us to our work (and schools) in ways that were inconceivable just a few years ago. But technology almost never does what we expect.

Almost all of us -- especially the people reading this -- have less leisure time than ever. We work harder, take fewer vacations for shorter periods of time, report more stress than almost any other demographic group and find the boundaries between work and play increasingly blurred. Computing and communications technologies are destroying the idea of privacy and leisure.

According to a new study reported in the July issue of American Demographics magazine, as the distinctions between home and the workplace fade, more and more of us go online from our offices to buy the things and perform the tasks we used to do when we got home. At first, employers were wary of workers going on the Net. But they've learned to love and encourage it, since it keeps employees chained to their desks for longer hours.

In l999, the researchers report, 19 percent of the total population had Net access at work, compared with just seven percent in l996. Employers, who now expect workers to be available for longer periods, understand that they have to let them to do their chores online. At work, Net surfers go first to news, information and entertainment sites. Then they hit search engines, marketing/corporate sites, sex sites and retailing shopping sites, in that order.

But there's a huge trade off for this convenience. Inforum's l999 Survey from the MEDSTAT group, reports American Demographics, found that adults aged 35 and younger were the most stressed people in the population. Nearly seven in 10 said they were "somewhat" to "extremely" stressed, an astonishing contrast to adults over 65: 31 percent of them said they had almost no stress in their lives at all.

More than a third of adults under the age of 25 say they don't get enough sleep most or all of the time. No wonder. More than half of them report that they didn't have time to take a vacation, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. When younger people do travel, they don't take much of a break: 42 percent of travelers who go away for just a weekend are aged 18 to 34 -- the largest share of any single demographic group. Of course, maybe they have less disposable income or have young children they can't leave for long. But if you think about people you know in this age group, it's also obvious that they have trouble disconnecting from work, thanks mostly to technology, and they're also afraid to show employers that they're not indispensable. It may also be true that openly or not, more employers expect their workers to be around all the time.

Before the Net, cell phones and Palms, the lines between work and leisure time were markedly clearer. People left their offices at a predictable time, were often completely disconnected from and out-of-touch with their jobs as they traveled to and from work, and were off-duty once they were home. That' s no longer true. Even in a competitive job market, employers expect workers to put in longer hours and to be available almost constantly via fax, cell, e-mail or other communications devices. Bosses, colleagues and family members -- lovers, buddies and spouses too -- expect instant responses to voice-and e-mail messages.

Employers have thus begun to pay the small price of allowing their round-the-clock workers to shop and communicate online, found the AD study.

The American Demographic report validates the suspicion that corporatist employers are taking advantage of new technologies and of workers' anxieties to demand longer hours and increased productivity -- the very things new technologies were supposed to liberate people from.

Although there are no known studies relating to college students and their work hours, it seems they are also bound to their desks and dorms by environments in which faculty, friends and other members of the college community increasingly do their work online. Studies of time spent on instant messaging services would probably show staggering use. And research possibilities online are boundless.

Few of us manage to buck this trend, apart from some neo-Luddites. Half of all Americans now own a cell phone, and more than 46 per cent of pleasure travelers take their phones with them when they go away, reports the Travel Industry Association. More than 18 per cent take their pagers and 6 per cent their laptops, while 10 per cent check e-mail on vacation. Younger Americans are living in a hyperactive information culture.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40 per cent of men worked more than 40 hours a week in l998, an increase of 5 percentage points in the last two decades. As for women, 22 per cent worked more than 40 hours aweek, compared with just 14 per cent in 1979.

So it's not surprising that a l998 General Social Survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago found that more than 40 per cent of American workers say they come home from work exhausted, up from 36 per cent in l989. Young married couples report that they work an average 26 per cent more hours each year than they did 30 years ago.

Aside from long hours, the nature of work has changed. Economist and author Richard Sennett (The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism) and Joanne B. Ciulla (The Working Life: The Promise and Betrayal of Modern Work), point out changes in the nature of work itself.

"Flexible" work projects, the growing number of part-time workers, and a culture that embraces and even celebrates continuous layoffs, down-sizings and re-engineerings have rendered almost everyone's work life stressful and unstable. Workers work harder and longer, move more often, change their work tasks more frequently, and are nevertheless constantly subject to dismissal or its threat.

This isn't what technology is supposed to be doing for us. New technologies, from genetic research to the Net, offer all sorts of benefits and opportunities. But when new tools make life more difficult and stressful rather than easier and more meaningful -- and we are, as a society, barely conscious of it -- then something has gone seriously awry, both with our expectations for technology and our understanding of how it works.

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Technology and Leisure Time

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have had repeated run-ins with my "boss". I am a Phd student nearing completion. Throughout my time here, my thesis advisor has tried and tried to convince me that I should be here 7 days a week for as long as it takes...and stay late.

    He even once went so far to say that my marriage should be on the verge of trouble - THEN I know I'm here working enough. I'll have none of it. I am among the older grad students in my department. I have already lived a real life before I came to grad school (military with combat experience in Desert Storm). I simply cannot and will not take any job seriously after that. Not so seriously that I would even entertain the idea that I should be working to the point of wrecking my relationship with my wife. He may be able to convince, cajol, threaten younger, fresh, inexperienced, and naive fresh college graduates that that is the way it is supposed to be, but it wont cut it with me. Have some perspective.

    NO JOB is so important that you should risk your health, your sanity, your personal relationships to get work done. I ALWAYS relax and do something totally unrelated to my graduate work on my weekends. I have no problem taking a vacation and not thinking about my work.

  • I frequently disagree with Katz, but he's hit the nail on the head this time.

    I work for a great company. Great people, good benefits, good compensation. However, not only do I have a company pager, but I haven't had even one 40 hour week in months. It's not a startup, but we still have to work like it is. I haven't been out of town since New Years. I got paged and tangled up in an hour's worth of work right after sundown on July 4th. You know, right when all the fun happens. I took a day off due to severe burnout at the beginning of May with the understanding that we would finish a project and I could take some more serious time off. Well, the project is done, but we're still "under the gun."

    The thing that has started to really bother me about the technology industry is that there is all this brainpower that is essentially going to waste. At most jobs, you put in your time, and go home. There, you can read, write, listen to music, think, or otherwise generally better yourself. But after sane + n hours of work each day in the tech industry, I frequently find myself mentally exhausted. The really frustrating thing is that most web programming related problems are not interesting in any deep way. It's "How do we force the browser and the server to behave the way we want them to?" "Why doesn't this damn library work as advertised?" "What do you mean, that functionality is broken?" Spending all of one's time trying to find workarounds for things doesn't enrich one's inner life, but it takes enough thought that when one finally gets a break, concentrating can be difficult. Meanwhile, time marches on. Every 60 hours you give your employer is 60 hours of YOUR life. You can't get that back. Is it worth it? I guess so; I'm still here, but ever more ambivalent.
  • heck I to work for the rest. Looking after kids s the hardest bit of my life. Yes its also the most enojoyable, but boy are they tiring.
  • I would agree if we were whining for things that other people need. But the people complaining about "stress" are about as self-centered as you can get.

    "Look at me," they say, "I have got it bad. I am a massive ball of stress."

    And when you tell them that what they need to do is work less, spend more time with their family, stay out of debt, and take the time to help those around them, they look at you like you were some kind of bug. The fact of the matter is that the more time you spend worrying about how you feel, and what you want the more stress you are going to feel.

    Perhaps you can already see where I am going with this. It isn't the whiners that are improving the lot of people around the world, it's the doers. If the people that are out helping also do a little "evangelizing" for their cause this does not make them "whiners."

  • What cage?

    I am nearly debt free, I have a lifestyle that is not extravagant and could easily be supported by a job with a lower salary. I spend a ton of time with my beautiful wife and my little girl. I have a life outside of work. I volunteer as a Scout Master (meaning I get to go fishing on a regular basis). I have a garden, I am active in my church, and I am on good terms with my neighbors. Hell, I live in Idaho, and contrary to what Mr. Katz thinks it's not such a bad life here.

    Just because you are caught up in the rat race doesn't mean that everyone else is. It's my opinion that the biggest cause of stress in Americans is the fact that they are caught up in a world of consumer debt. They can't afford to stop working even for a moment because if they do the bill collectors will take away their house.

    If I don't owe "the man" he can't control me, and so I have structured my life in such a way that I live well within my means. This means making sacrifices like not having the newest computer hardware (at home anyway :), and not driving the fanciest car. I don't eat out much, preferring instead to sit down to dinner with my family. It means that I have to save up my money for larger purchases so that I can pay cash instead of using credit, but that guarantees that I stay within my budget.

    If you don't like how your life is going, feel free to whine. Just don't expect everyone else to feel sorry for you. I would personally suggest taking some responsibility for your own personal happiness. Instead of complaining about how everyone is under so much stress, why not take an inventory of the things that are causing you stress. Then work out a way to eliminate these stresses from your life. If working long hours is giving you stress, find a job that requires fewer hours. If working fewer hours means making less money, find a way to get by with less.

    I use my own personal example because it illustrates the things that I have done to escape from the rat race. Chances are good that your priorities will be different, and so your escape route will also be different, but telling me that I love my cage simply because I refuse to join the chorus of whiners is simply blinding you to the fact that there are people who are successfully dealing with the problem of stress.

    In the end, who's the person in the cage? Is it the person who owns little but owes nothing, or the person who has everything but spends every waking minute working to pay his creditors?

  • Let's see:

    1. No hard lifting.

    2. Indoor work, air conditioned.

    3. No hazmat contact.

    4. No serious risk of disease.

    5. Equity/profit participation, on top of good pay.

    6. Unparalleled tolerance of all matters of race, creed, more holes than God intended your body to have, etc.

    7. Workers in very short supply, and can call the tune.

    8. No corrupt union taking a cut of your pay to conduct political activities you don't agree with.

    Oh for the days when entrepeneurialism meant buying a ship, filling it with a crew (of really swell guys, I'm sure), and sailing forth to rip off the natives of some hell-hole so you can sell their products back home and get rich, or die trying. Right?

  • I'm in the slightly nutty situation of living out-of-town where I work during the week, then coming home (5 hr drive each way) to spend the weekend. While I'm home, I focus on my wife & little boy, wife's mom, our close friends, church, etc. It's a rare weekend when I bother to check even my personal email. On the other hand, during the week I work late, take stuff home, work at the apartment, studying related to work, etc.

    Not exactly the scenario JK has in mind, but it's interesting how my working and personal life is getting redefined by my job -- I've had to rigidly separate the two.

  • If you earn little enough, you don't pay taxes. Of course, you'll want to finangle it so that taxes aren't being taken off at source, so that you're not effectively loaning the government your money interest-free for the year.


    --


  • I forgot telecommuting..but it's a good point. There, the boundaries between work andplay are even tougher, no? Would love to hear from some of you who do it..

  • I read this post and thought, "gee, this is interesting"...Robokatz..an idea whose time has come


  • Yes, it's not just a matter of employees demanding this. We all have new expectations about technology. College kids stay on ICQ for hours because they say they fear their friendw will think somethings wrong if they don't answer instantly. Companies may be exploiting this, but it's much bigger issue than that. It goes to our expectations for technology.


  • I think you have only to read these posts to see that this is the right place for this article. There is much work and leisure time going on around /. it isn't only for people trawling at all. I think anything to do with technology is a good subject for /., as is obvious by the response to this piece. I always find it odd that people are so quick to self-censor the subject matter they read or talk about.
  • More and more people feel its their duty to be the best worker, lest they should lose their job, and then who would be for their broadband? Its not uncommon to see people with a PDA working when ever the get the chance to, in some cases people enjoy the work and enjoy working on projects. Personally, i'd Telecommute and just live shabbily at my house.

    ---
  • Ok first and formost, what you call "survival" was really barely subsistence living. Secondly, their survival rates were very low by all accounts. Thirdly, 4 hours a day is way off the mark, most every respected authority points to a dawn to dusk work ritual, with perhaps a few breaks. In addition, beyond what we supposedly "know" about them, just look at the actually documented primitive societies of today and the recent past (i.e., 200 years or so). I assure you, no where will you find any society like what you mention. Unless you assume these societies to be actually less developed, you're simply mistaken. What do you think a society with this much free time would do with themselves? Make art? Where is the evidence? Granted, they didn't have much in the way of tools or metals, but we've found very little, if any, evidence of leisure activity.

    If this hunter gather lifestyle is really so easy, why do you see people in India and the like starving in metropolisis when their is all this food abound outside of them? You think you just pick it off the trees? No, sorry. Food is scarce, even with modern technology, it takes farming to even approximate what you see today.

    Anyways, the bottom line is that you're way way off the mark. Generally speaking, people are pretty rational beings. If there is a lifestyle that requires less work and yields greater happiness, people would flock to it.

    Understand this basic reality, and you might come to further appreciate modern advances.
  • C'mon, give us some credit.

    I work a LOT of hours (although, I've recently cut back to spend time with my kids). Why do I do this? Have I been suckered by my employers? Have I been tempted by technology? Am I some mindless sheep that can't make decisions on my own?

    The answer is no. I work the long hours for three reasons. One, job satisfaction. I feel like I'm doing the best job I can when I put in the hours needed to hit a deadline under budget. I feel good about myself when I'm early on a project, exceed expectations, and can report I spent less than predicted. That's just me.

    Second, I don't want my wife to have to work. I feel better about the idea that my wife is home raising our children well, not letting some daycare do it. She can enjoy her life (which inevitably makes my life easier) and our kids will be brought up with the values WE want them to have.

    The final reason is I want to stop working someday. I watched my grandfather work until he died. I am watching my father do the same. My other grandfather is still working at 70+. They're doing this because they can NOT comfortably retire. That won't be happening to me. I'm busting my ass to put away enough money that, after putting two children through college, I can retire and spend time with my wife living reasonably well. I'm willing to forgoe leisure time now and endure some stress to retire early and enjoy it.

    No, I don't think we've been somehow "tricked" into killing ourselves for our job. Many of us conciously make the decision to do so for a variety of reasons. It IS our life to spend.


    -Jer
  • Hell yeah.

    My time from M-F 9am to 6pmish comes relatively cheap. time beyond that, expectations that I'll be around to work on the weekends, nope. unpriced. you can't buy that time off me. sorry. My job I enjoy, and it is part of my life. NOT my whole life. gotsta do salsa/merengue dancing, gotsta trek around the hillcountry, gotsta party.
  • Hi there.
    I telecommute from Toronto to work for a group of health professionals based out of San Francisco. Our server is somewhere in Wisconsin, I think.
    As for work, I do a 9 to 5 or 10 to 6 day 5 days a week. One hour off for either lunch or taking a bike ride or walk in the middle of the day to get out of the house.
    My boss has been getting worried because I've been with the company almost a whole year and haven't taken any time off! Because we're in the health-related business, time off and vacations are mandatory: we are encouraged to take every single day off we have coming to us, and that's very unusual from what I've seen.

    Pope

    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • The essay makes some good points - we're allowing technology to make our lives more complicated and less relaxing. I know I myself do that way too often.

    However, the point is, and always has been technology is going to have results depending on how we use it. So, we've chosen to use it to make life more stressful in many cases. Let's face it, we only have ourselves to blame if we do it to ourselves or let it happen to us.

    It's not a "good" versus "bad" technology or the white-hate workers versus the black-hat evil Corporatists. Life's divisions aren't that simple.

    Don't like it? Change it. Take that vacation time, put your foot down, don't overtax your employees, find that job that gives you a break, stop using the net to fill up every spare moment, etc.

    Our worst problem is somehow the ideal that more "work" is somehow noble, admirable, a sign of superiority. So we let ourselves work harder and longer - but for what result? Doesn't seem worth it to me.
  • Or you can become a consultant at a really good consulting company and once again have the illusion of cheap healthcare, paid vacation, etc.... natch, your percentage of take is less, but that's one of those little tradeoffs. Much rather pay a professional for those kinds of hassles. No, I don't clear six figures, but when something goes awry, I just call someone, and it gets taken care of. Badda-boom, badda-bing.

    --
    w.e.b., salaried consultant
    There are no dress rehearsals.
    We ARE professionals, and this
    IS the Big Time.

  • by Tiro (19535)
    Slashdot is killing my leisure time.

    If CmdrTaco and Hemos would quit publishing such interesting stories, I could actually spend my summer vacation doing something worthwile, rather than reading, posting, and listening to BBC Radio One [bbc.co.uk] on the net all day.

    But seriously, this trend is only going to get worse, and I'm not happy about it.

  • Isn't it funny how we keeep hearing the following?

    a) technology workers are in demand.
    b) Technology workers are overworked.

    Folks.. when your trade is in demand, it's an employee's market.. you can CHOOSE where to work, and BARGAIN for the deal you want.

    The problem? Simply that a great deal of these workers are TOO YOUNG. Do I mean they have no skill? No.. I Just mean they are inexperienced at life, and don't realize the importance of treating yourself right.

    I once asked my guru what it meant to him to be doing his job right.
    (this man has more degrees than I can count, and is the best programmer I"ve ever seen. THe things he thinks about for fun boggle my mind.).
    His words to me were 'do your job correctly, but do it from 9 - 5.'. In other words.. finishing that piece of code on time for your project is good, but finishing it without dedicating your life to it is better. It's a job.
  • Don't mess with the batteries, get a PCS phone (I love my Samsung 3500). It comes with free caller ID and free voicemail. I can see immediately if it's my boss or my girlfriend calling. If it's my boss, he goes into voicemail. 60 seconds later, I check my voicemail and see if the office is on fire of if they just decided to move a deadline up. If the office is on fire, I call back with "I just got out of the shower, I'll be there in 5." If they moved my deadline up, I stroll in on Monday and say, "Oh yeah, I was in the country all weekend and I didn't have digital service." Just use the technology for your own purposes.

    -B
  • Did it for a while Jon. Telecommute that is, well, work at home and drive the whole machine into work once a week anyway.

    Why? We were late being paid again and I hadn't got enough cash to buy petrol to drive into work everyday so the boss said to just stay at home and work until his latest cheque cleared or something. That took weeks. Oh yes, I don't miss the computer games business one bit.

    Anyway, I ended up working less hours but more efficently and later in the day. I'd get MORE stuff done in less time becasuse
    • I slept late in the mornings rather than feel like a zombie at work, wasting a couple of hours
    • Nobody looking over your shoulder
    • Felt more pressure to prove I was working by doing stuff rather than just being there.
    In the end, after we finally got paid, I was forced back to the office every day because, at the end of the day, very few of us are paid to do our jobs. We're paid to sit in a chair and look busy, that's all they really want from us. That particular boss was more worried about impressing the VC's who visited the office with a roomful of busy looking people than trying to impress them with actual stuff.

    I'm much happier now, I used to work about 60 to 80 hours a week over six or sometimes seven days. Now I work 24 over four days. I still have to come into some stupid office to do the work, and I had to take a pay cut (which has now worked itself back to way OVER the previous wage thanks to a few raises etc.) but I'm not exactly loaded down with responsibilities, I don't need much cash. Why would I sell more of my time than I have to?
    Pre........
  • And on a good day, my wife and I are both awake enough after the kids go to bed that we can talk for a while.

    I was following you until that point. You just talk. Well, there goes your credibility.

    8*)

  • Robert Putnam just wrote Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community [amazon.com], addressing this issue. His conclusion, as suggested from the title, is that in fact, we have more leisure time than ever, and that we engage in more leisurely activities than ever before. The wrinkle is, though, that we're no longer doing them in the sorts of social groups we have, historically. People are moving from place to place and no longer making the same sorts of social bonds, and while the internet has allowed for more social interaction, it has encouraged us to stay home and participate alone. We're still bowling, but we're doing it alone.

    PS, the amazon.com link is for reference use only. Please continue to boycott them owing to their abuse of software patents.
  • by iCEBaLM (34905)
    "In l999, the researchers report"
    "But there's a huge trade off for this convenience. Inforum's l999 Survey"

    I've noticed this before in Jon's articles, and while I like his articles sometimes (including this one) I think the use of the lowercase letter "L" for a one in 1999 is somewhat strange. Maybe Jon is working too hard? :)

    Consider this open source editing Jon, check that out, huh?

    -- iCEBaLM
  • It's definatly freed some people thought.

    I remember 20 years ago my father being stuck at the house, because he couldn't go anywhere in case he got called. Nowadays, he's got a cell phone. This means he can go out without worrying.

  • Heh heh.

    I took a month off to go to New Zealand this past winter (well, winter in the US; summer in NZ).

    I had no net and or even telephone contact with the rest of the world when I was there (except for a couple phone calls to my family). Once I left the US, my goal was to make it as if I fell off the face of the earth.

    It was well worth it. I spent the first week back trying to remember how to type.
  • I don't think that technology - or more precisely the way businesses expect us to work because of technology - has eliminated leisure. What it has done is profoundly changed the nature of it.

    My parents had holiday and two-week vacations every year. I don't, and am amazed that they avoided going crazy under those conditions.

    When I'm "on contract" I don't have holidays, evenings, or even many weekends. Even if I'm only working 40 hours "on the clock," I average at least 60 when you include everything I need to do to keep current in this field. But my vacations (every 2-3 years) generally last 2-3 months, with the time evenly split between travel and career "skills sharpening" activities.

    My parents think I'm crazy, but a two-week break just isn't long enough for me to recover. At the same time it is so long that it causes major disruptions in the office. (Not because I don't know how to minimize these problems, but businesses have deemphasized these practices.)

    The downsides to this approach? It requires much more financial planning to prepare for a three-month period of unemployment than a two-week vacation. Many people can't pull it off, often for reasons beyond their control. Also, if you don't take a long break and hit "burnout" it can take a *long* time to recover - 6-12 months "off contract." That's long enough that it can be harder to reenter the job market.

    But the upside is that you can do things that our parents could only dream of. Want to hike the length of the Appl. Trail? No problem. Want to live in Paris all spring, practicing your French? Pack your bags!
  • Ah, the forty-hour week, a modern middle class myth. The people who believe that we used to have a lot of leisure time are the same people who think that the 50's style non-working housewife was the "normal" way to be.

    A hundred years ago, if I lived on a farm, do you think I'd be sitting around with the time to read three books a week? Would I be able to take more than a day or two for "vacation"? Who would watch the kids? the livestock? Do you think I's never pull an all-nighter in the barn for a sick animal?

    A hundred years ago, if I lived in the city and didn't have the fortune to be upper or upper middle class, do you think I'd have any leisure? Did the women and children working sixty-plus hours a week sewing in dimly-lit sweatshops with chained doors take vacations? Did they even take sick days?

    Don't think the past was such a bed of roses. The freedom technology gives us is what lets us have the leisure to whine about how little leisure we have.


  • I'd wager that one of the main culprits for the blurring between work and play for our little subculture is the fact that most of us enjoy our work, and probably have been using computers as a hobby longer than we have been working with them for a living. I know that's the case for me. I spend most of the day as a "swiss army knife" tech doing a little bit of everything from support to web development to playing nursemaid to the servers (we are way underfunded ;-> ) and then when I get home, to unwind what do I do? I recompile the kernel on the three linux boxen in my house, read through my servers firewall logs, check for updates and security alerts, read any new bugtraq messages that have come in since I left work, and if I'm feeling up to it work on some personal project like setting up apache to do virtual hosting on my domain, (just got brothel.acerbic.org up ;-> ) and maybe find time to work on my website (most all of these have been temporairly supplanted by Diablo II for the moment though) That's a good three hours of activities that are basically work, with the exception of diablo of course. The sick part is I enjoy doing these things so the line between what is work and what is leisure is very blurred for me. On the bright side I enjoy my job, only about 25% actually feels like work ("feels like work" being defined as something i'd rather not do) the downside is I don't get a real break, it's the same activities all day.

    To keep from burning out I have to disconnect sometimes. For me it means staying away from the computers as much as possible on the weekends and (gasp!) making non-geek friends, so I have social activities that don't even allow me to "talk shop". My geek friends that also do this for a living are pretty much the same way and we make a point to do outside activities as often as possible and actually get exersize. I hate to say it but a few hours of physical exersize a week really burns away the stress. Oddly enough I've also noticed that nearly all of my geeks friends really enjoy shooting as well, must be because being good a shooting requires focus and concentration, something that seems to come natural to geeks. It's also a great way to relieve stress, esp when you take a bunch of crap hardware out to the range with your buddies and execute it.

    Anyway, the point is Katz is right, the line between work and leisure is becoming and blurred, and we need to do something about it. Like I said I've found that the best way to do that is develope other interests outside of technology so I can unplug on a regular baisis, exotic vacations help too, I just got back from a week in Nassau, while I admit I did check and send some email I spent less than an hour in front of a computer while I was there compared to the 80 or so I do normally. And you know something, after the break both my work and leisure computer use was fun again.

  • A typical day for many people includes one to two hours of checking web sites and answering unimportant email. The result is that they have 25% less time to do their normal work in. ICQ is another intrusion. It makes you feel like you need to interrupt what you're doing and respond. When you come down to it, most ICQ and email intrusions and web sites have no direct value. If you decided to just do your job and not check Slashdot (or whatever) daily, then after a month you'd find that you really didn't miss anything. Somebody posted some misleading benchmarks and there was heated debate. Gnome or KDE or Apache or the kernel had a minor patch that doesn't benefit you. Some new graphics card or CPU got 5% faster, though nobody cares because the price is too high or the drivers are crappy. There were some supposed breakthroughs in genetics or quantum computing or somesuch that doesn't have a relation to anything tangible (i.e. it's vaporware). I bet you get more done during that month than the previous two.
  • Check out today's feature [brunching.com] from the Brunching Shuttlecocks [brunching.com]

    --

  • I've been watching, from time to time, a series on PBS called "1900 House" [pbs.org]. It's about a family that has volunteered to move into a house that was rebuilt to be as close as possible to a house from 100 years ago. It has all of the same technology, including a stove that barely works but must remain on 7x24 because it's the main heat source for the house. I find this show interesting because it's unbelievable how much time is spent cooking and cleaning. Virtually all of the time is spent keeping things clean, while most of the rest of the time is spent cooking!

    This show is enlightening because it demonstrates how much additional time we actually do have because of technology. And what the vast majority of us do with that extra time is (drumroll please)... watch TV!

    Now, that being said, I don't disagree with the article. Employeers do seem to be demanding more and more of our leisure time. And I don't think some of the demands are justified. But, if you're good at what you do, you are golden. There's a technology labor shortage - a big one. As long as this exists, those who are technically capable can either:

    1. Set up reasonable boundaries without fear of reprisal, by refusing to dedicate all of your time to your employer.
    2. Become co-conspirators in the drainage of their time by never setting any boundary on what is or isn't reasonable.

    That being said, let's all go out and demand that we only work 60 hour weeks so that we can have some time to catch up on the Simpsons!

  • I got a 3 CD set from Sun Educational Services. It's $369 and only runs on Windows or Solaris -- thank god for Virtual PC. Here [sun.com] is the link.

    It actually runs reasonably well under VPC, so I would imagine it should work fine under VMWare or WINE on Linux. If by some strange coincidence you're also using a Mac, Apple's MRJ SDK [apple.com] is where you'll find the tools like jar, javac, and javadoc.

  • Yes, technology was supposed to unburden us working folk from our jobs. However, in the new hightech world, there have to be those that really do make the world go 'round. These people live for that kind of environment -- I was like that for several years, but it becomes a serious drain on one's life (read: life expectancy.)

    Additionally, the problem is multiplied by people not leaving their work at work. The pager, cell phone, and/or laptop are generally accepted without question. People go home and continue to work on their employer's problems.

    Welcome to the new "dot com" world...
  • who are working longer
    hours, taking fewer and shorter vacations (when they do go
    away, they take their cells, Palms and laptops along) and say they are more
    stressed than any other segment of the population.


    I only stress out when my cable connection at home goes down. It went off at 9pm one day for maintenence. I honestly didn't know what to do.

    Listen, I code for a living, I code for fun. But I also put effort into getting plenty of exercise and sunshine. It's all about finding the balance that works well for you. Find that balance and your stress will go away.


    "You want to kiss the sky? Better learn how to kneel." - U2
  • I also work in High Tech. I'm employed for the summer, and work as a student otherwise =)

    But i've got experiences working with Startups. And let me tell you, for our generation of technical geeks, many of us are working LONG hours. Why would we work these long hours, only to stress ourselves?

    First, is money. We make lots of money and pay for school, or debts (from school, etc). Secondly, with some, long hours could translate into great rewards. We see the rewards many others are reaping from the windfalls seen at other companies and hope to get the same thing.

    The last major factor i would attest to is Knowledge. We strive to learn to give us better leverage in the market place when we are done. Or, if you are already in the marketplace (done school) you are working hard to move up the ladder.

    Many people in high tech worked long hours in school and see it natural to carry on the same work habits when they are done.

    Now, on the other side of the coin, is the impact of technology on the non-technical people. Take one's parents for example.

    Being the tech guy in the family, I introduced many many people to technology and it's wonders.

    Now, my parents surf the net, book travel info online, do online banking, communicate via email, and do a host of other things that otherwise take more of their time (driving to the travel agency, making appointments, research travel, etc)

    The last thing i'd comment about is the fact that even though we save time here and there, we alwasy find ways to use that saved time. Some use it to surf more, some work more, some people might actually relax more. I'm sure it consists of a myriad of different activities and would be hard to pinpoint to a small handful of activities.

  • by dsplat (73054)
    Stress is having deadlines and not having the tools to meet them.

    Yes, I have a laptop at work that goes home with me at night. Usually the only reason I fire it up at home is to sync my personal and work calendars and address books. I spend hours of my time at home online. Most of that is corresponding with friends all over the world who I have met online, friends I wouldn't have otherwise.

    I do have too many activities competing for my time. Most of them have nothing to do with technology. When I play with my kids, I use Legos, not NICs. I love to read, and I lose sleep staying up to finish a good novel. And on a good day, my wife and I are both awake enough after the kids go to bed that we can talk for a while.

    Technology is not morally neutral, but we can choose whether it is a tool for us to get on with our lives, or a tool for other people to intrude on them. I choose the former.

  • This is pretty similar to my experience. It's not so much that we have less leisure time but that technology tends to cause leisure and work blend together to a certain extent. I use my Palm Pilot to play chess or read a novel when I take a break then I use it to track software installation when I get back to work. Half the stuff I look at when I surf the web usually comes in handy later on when I'm working on a project. Half the stuff on Slashdot is directly relevant to what I do and the other half is just fun.

    I like things this way. I would much rather be in a job where I have the flexibility to do personal chores and relax when I need to than one where I have to be constantly on duty and can't relax for a moment even if that job has better hours.

    If I want to cut myself off from work, I do it. I don't carry stuff with me on vacation unless I want to. If I have to interupt a vacation because I'm needed at work then they better have crisis on their hands that only I can solve. Otherwise, I'll see everybody when I get back with my tacky souvenirs!
  • My job I enjoy, and it is part of my life. NOT my whole life

    Exactly. One of my "mantras" is "My job is not my life. My life is not my job."
  • It clears up your thought processes, and lets you finish more complex thoughts.

    It's been proven that infants and children who listen to classical music can compelte longer, more complex thoughts. This obviously gives them advantages.

    It would seem that this constant barrage of information that we're being flailed with (or flailing ourselves with) during all of our waking hours could very well have the opposite effect. I've got 9 desktops on my machine, and I monitor at least 20 other machines at work, plus 4 or 5 at home, plus constant bug reports, security issues, general news....

    Welcome to Short Attention Span Theatre. It's no wonder so many people these days have the attention span of a ferret on a double espresso.
  • Another indicator I saw recently was that the USA spends far more of its GDP on health care than Australia .. but guess which countries health system was rated better by the WHO???

    Why is Pete Townshend rating health care systems?
  • I guess Katz does have a point, though, about the nature of work. I work about 50 hours a week at a techie job that is realtively stressful. I'd be much better off working 60 hours a week in a mine, or maybe working 80+ hours a week trying to make a living on a farm as my great grandparents did at the turn of the century. Now *those* were some healthy, non-stressful jobs compared to sitting in front of a computer 10 hours a day.

    Help me, I'm being oppressed by The Man.
  • Nope, the quote says "somewhat" to "extremely". That would mean what is left is "low to no", which is pretty much the same thing said of the over 65 crowd.
  • I switched from a soft-money research position to a tech position.

    Before, my boss had no problems calling 18/7 (I was once yelled at for not being able to get a FedEx set up on 12/24.), considered a $1K/year raise (one of two raises in 5 years) "huge", and I spent the last two years spending an AWFUL lot of time trying to keep myself employed. No vacation, no benefits because any of those things would eat into the grant money.

    Now I work for a .com which expects products to roll-out on rather short time scales, but I am paid about 60% more than I was before, have my own health and dental insurance, and a 401k plan. On average I work about 45-48 hours a week and have 15 vacation days.

    Life's too short to waste it on a company that doesn't care about you.

  • last week, my boyfriend and i took a "vacation". i was fortunate enough to be cut off from work (cheap employer won't pay for pagers that work outside of houston!), but he still had his ball and chain - not me, his pager. he was paged at least five times during the week - "emergencies" where he *had* to take the call.

    rediculous!!!

    also, when we first started dating, it took us 3 months before we could go on a movie date. between his on-call and mine, there wasn't time!

    this is all so sad. when is technology going to give us our lives back? i'm afraid that when i have children, i'll never get to see them :(
  • In the days of the Romans, they used "Bread and Circuses" to keep the population stated. Today, bread is not a problem. There is more than enough food for all on Earth, and those who need to be controlled are given the bread. Those who do not are left to starve or are simply shot.

    Gladiatorial matches have been replaced with WWF and sitcoms, but technology has offered new challenges to those who rule our lives.

    The wealthy and powerful realized long ago that allowing technology to develop and reach the masses would allow them to do the same work in less time, so they filled our minds with visions of a "Jetsons" future with flying cars and 3 day work weeks.

    In reality, they were pushing us harder. The changes were small and hard to notice.

    The principle was simple. If you put frog in boiling water, it leaps out, but if you put it in cool water and slowly turn up the heat, it remains until cooked.

    This is how they have kept us under control. Instead of allowing us to finish our work in less time and thus have the leisure to improve our minds and challenge their power, they have increased our work and demanded that everyone accomplish more.

    Work using technology IS more efficient. We accomplish 40% more than our parents did in the same time, but we are asked to do 60% more than they did and are thus destroyed and controlled.

    Here endeth the lesson.


    Matthew Miller, [50megs.com]
  • Well, what do you expect? With an economic system based on competition, you end up working everybody to their limit forever. A big fraction of costs, and a bigger fraction of effort, go into "beating the competition". More productivity doesn't help. Capitalism without overwork is as unlikely as war without overwork. Unless there's a way to push back.

    As a job, being a sysadmin is a lot like being a plumber [plumbersan...itters.org] or electrician [ibew.org]. Those guys have work rules and get overtime. This keeps them from being jerked around. Sysadmins need a union too. And there is one.

    Click here [cwa-union.org] to organize your workplace.

  • Yes, I am available for work more of the time. However, I have a lot more flexibility in my time as a result. I'd rather work more and have more responsibility for managing myself. That's stressful, but it's much less stressful than having to punch the clock for no other reason than some suit tells me to do so.

    I think when I work too hard it's not a result of technology as much as it is a result of the combination skills shortage and downsizing trend-- I often find that there just plain old aren't enough resources to do the necessary work.

    Of course, perhaps I complain less because I work in Europe-- "short vacations" are relative when you start with 26 paid days vacation. :)

  • Generation X is still about slack, right?

    No shit, isn't Generation X supose to be either stoners or working at McDonalds now? How the hell did it take a wrong turn and half of Gen X end up in the tech field. Maybe I should trade my modem for a copper hitter??

  • The comment that people may tend to "find the boundary between work and play increasingly blurred" rings rather oddly when stated in such a negative context, at least to my mind.

    It's unfortunate that the situation that has evolved in this (the USA) and other countries is one wherein the vast majority of individuals view their employment as a burden or as a task which must be performed without much of a sense of enjoyment in order to survive. One sees this sentiment echoed all across popular culture, where the weekend is hailed as a glorious promised land of "free time" and respite from whatever coal mine folks are subjected to during the week. This pair of dichotomies, one temporal (week/weekend) and one personal (work/play), is an entity that I'd call both negative and unnecessary in nearly all cases.

    Of course, Jon was likely mentioning this because of his understanding that many of those involved in various tech jobs embody said sentiments. Still...Looked upon with only a slight prismatic twist, this could be seen to be a positive trend as opposed to the converse. If there is indeed a more widespread trend toward blurring between work and play, the available options naturally gravitate further in the direction of two extremes: Either find work which truly fits what you consider something akin to play, and brings you fulfillment and enjoyment, or become further trapped in the sense that one must cling fervently to whatever time one can find to escape from the work that it forced upon them.

    I suppose it really boils down to a fairly fundamental part of existence. That is, find something that helps you to learn, grow, and hopefully exist comfortably; Then structure your life so that there need not be a dichotomy which forces you away from that entity on a regular basis. Plenty have solved this particular puzzle, and I doubt one would find many of them viewing a "blurring between work and play" to be anything but a positive change. In fact, such a blurring is probably generally enacted in the first place by the people in question, as opposed to some outside force acting upon them.

    What about folks here? Do many of you embrace this dichotomy in your personal life, or do you tend to view your employment as simply an extension of your overall existence? One could naturally follow into a discussion of the myriad dualistic ideas that have found their way into tacit use in Western culture (either explicitly or implicitly), but this particular facet is one which can be both acutely and broadly damaging to those upon whom it is forced and by whom it is accepted.

  • Hi Jon, I don't normally bash you, hell, I don't normally read what you write. But uhh... duh?

    I think just about everyone here is all too aware of the extremely short leash technology allows. Geeks, more than anyone else, are inclined to cut off all communication when they go on vacation because... hell, even sitting at home with no faxes, cell-phones, e-mail is a vacation!

    I'd have been much more fascinated if you'd covered two points.

    • Is it worth it? Sure we may moan and bitch about how bad being on constant call, even at 3am, is. Now, how does this compare to.. construction? Or.. cashier at burger king? We're getting much more compensation in terms of cash, but we're also paying them back with obscene amounts of time. I'll bet you construction workers aren't exactly on the same instant-demand schedule some of us need to be. I have honestly entertained the idea of saying 'fuck it' and doing a job that would pay just enough for getting by each month, but would allow me spare time to do what I wanted. Some of us in the tech industry may have attained the utopian "do what you like and get payed for it" so they don't really feel like they need that spare time to do their fun stuff; they're already doing it.
    • What can be done? We know it's bad. What have people done to try and make it better? I'd really like to know. I'm not far in here, what mistakes am I going to want to avoid? It's clearly a (dead horse) issue that needs fixing, but so far it seems as though there's been lots in the "Wow this is bad" and little in the "Wow this is how we made it better" department.

    Now I know, by the time I post this, moderators will have moved on. I just hope I'm not the only here who thought that while yes, valid point jon, the /. crowd already knew that.

  • Nobody expects a painter or a musician to punch a clock, or measure the value of his or her output by volume

    Ok, well, maybe we can measure the musician's output by 'volume' ;-)


    seanmeister

  • I have two goals in life:

    1) Never own a pager

    2) Never own a cell phone that my employer has the number of

    These were my dad's goals in life before mine, and I think he was absolutely correct. No, I don't want to be reachable at any time. What's in it for me? Unfortunately, it means that I have to be a little bit pickier when it comes to which job I take, but I think it's worth it not to have to think about work when I'm home.
  • There is also that looming specter of "downsizing," to which I have just fallen prey...no matter how good you are at your job, there's always that little teeny chance that you won't have it next week. I'm jobless as of Friday because our salespeople aren't doing their job (selling web work); instead of doing the logical thing and firing the salespeople, they're canning me (I'm not bitter, really, and that urge to burst out of the web room screaming "J00 SUX0RZ!!!" at the top of my lungs is getting easier to suppress). What sucks is, I like this job, and I like this company...although I would sell a kidney to be able to telecommute.

    Then again, the bright side is that I'll at least get a little vacation for the first time in two years. :}
  • Here is a short list of people who can "jump ship" at any time if they are not happy.

    Tech workers
    Stock brokers
    Marketing researchers
    Strippers
    Truck drivers
    Pizza delivery guys
    Bicycle couriers

    ... and it goes on.

    Even the guy who works at Starbucks can easilly bolt for Caribou if his manager gets on his nerves. When unemployment is under 5%, it means that just about everybody who wants a job has one, and there are lots of companies out there begging for people.

    Also, becoming one of the technology priests is very easy... take a temp job on a help desk phone bank and start learning the ropes. In two years your salary demands will double. Eventually, everybody who wants to be a computer geek becomes one.

  • If your kids' teachers are only working from 8-2:30 on weekdays, enroll them in a private school or transfer to another district immediately! Their school sucks!

    Proper teaching requires hours of daily preparation. Otherwise they are just winging it, which is a disservice to the students. Also, every minute spent in the classroom with the kids should be put to the best possible use, which means that grading papers and tests, filing paperwork, and other tasks should be done outside of classroom hours. Some teachers (read: bad teachers) will gladly just show a film and take up space, but a good school district will fire them long before they ever get a shot at tenure.

    Far from getting their "summers and weekends off", teachers in most states are required to continue their higher education beyond a bachelor's degree just to keep their license valid. All of this required training is done at their own expence and on their own time. That means night school, summer classes at the university, and weekend workshops.

    Then there are the parent conferneces. Teachers are expected to be on a first-name basis with the parents of every kid in their class. Without parent-teacher communication, a good education is an optimistic dream.

    And God help them if they are a coach or theater instructor or band director. In addidtion to all the after-school or early morning practices, there are fund raisers to run, trips to organize & supervise, and equipment to order (and keep track of... inventory is a big deal for a school on a tight budget).

    The average good teacher works at least 50-60 hours a week, not counting time spent in required training workshops and college classes (and the homework for those classes). Many of those who don't teach summer school often work some other kind of summer job to supliment their income, like landscaping or other seasonal work.

    As for me, I have a degree in Music Education. If I had stayed in teaching, I would now be making about a third of what I am now, and that gap will continue to get wider for my whole career. I also would not have nearly as much free time as I do now.

    I get paid for every second beyond 40 hours a week, and most of my ongoing education is done during working hours, and most of it has been at the expense of my employers.

  • $100k...This is about half of what it takes to buy a good house in San Francisco

    It's also about three times more than it takes to live in a good house in a Midwestern suburb. (and don't tell me there are no jobs out here... unemployment in the Twin Cities is at about 1% right now)

    Yes, if you want to live on a rocky cliff-face overlooking the SF bay, you had better be a millionaire, but most of the country is nothing like that. SF is a weird area in many, many ways. $100,000 there means Ramen noodles and a townhouse near a streetcar line if you are lucky. $100,000 elsewhere means a big house, big yard, big luxury car, nice boat, and a fat retirement account.

    It all comes down to the choices you want to make.

  • You've got it backwards (at least as far as enterprise level IT is concerned). Check the ads, or talk to a headhunter, and you will hear that there are lots of openings for a UNIX admin with 3-4 years experience, but very few junior positions.

    The M$ track is far easier for a newbie to break into. Land a job on a help desk, take the MCSE tests, and you might eventually get to be an admin or maybe an Exchange Server support guy.

    That does not change the fact that an old guru can hit the ground running, doing twice the work of a kid right out of school. The youngsters are generally not trusted to lord over mission-critical systems, and you usually need to invest time and money into getting them up to speed.

    A paper MCSE or even *n?x CS grad with no experience will take a couple months to figure out your system, and will get a much higher offer from somebody else within a year or two.

    Old-school gurus are already getting near the top range of their salary, so they will stay put until they are ready to be a consultant or retire, as long as you keep them happy. They won't leave a good job for just another couple grand a year. Also, they will have seen it all before and will be able to take control of the project right away.

  • Oh Puhleeze.

    Katz might feel like an important writer when he paints this picture of The Worker once again being crushed by the boot of Corporate Greed, but the truth is very different.

    Tech nerds get huge money for stupid monkey work, and we get even more money for anything that requires us to think. We take that money and drop a good chunk of it into Roth IRA's and 401K's and guess what? We are part of the machine.

    We are the Pinball Wizards and we are needed by the corporate world far more than they are needed by us. If you want more free time, quit your job and take one with less hours. There are far more jobs than there are qualified UNIX gurus, even more than enough jobs to go around for all those faceless MCSE's, so we are in the drivers seat at every interview we sit down at.

    What Katz fails to realize is that we "drones" are far more free to choose our lifestyle than (for example,) a web journalist.

  • Fear not. Unless you are completely useless you will be working again in no time. I've been through a layoff before myself.

    The best plan of action is to take that fat severence check and enjoy the sunlight for a while, let the headhunters and other minions of satan try to find a job for you, and start looking yourself if you don't like the options they come up with.

    Or you can become a consultant, which ain't a bad life, in spite of the higher health insurance costs.

  • Jon misses the point, I think.

    Computers and technology have reduced our overall workload, enough so that the technically adept have been given all the work while the expendable remainder were laid off and consigned to low-wage, part-time, contract, temp positions making and selling products that really don't matter. Our knowledge purchased high pay, job security and esteem; we were temporary winners in the capitalism survival of the fittest.

    So, the blame rests not on technology, which is neutral at any rate, but in the decisions of business owners to use this benefit to shift work from one group to another rather than to reduce the workload for everyone equally.

    That the insecure low-wage jobs bring with them stresses of a different sort is just icing on the cake for employers. Not only do they ladle the skilled work onto an overworked minority, but the unskilled work is done by workers so hungry for a decent living that they are willing to work a zillion hours a week in order to compete better with the thousands of other unskilled labourers in the job market.

    North America is an employers dream.

  • Goodness, Jon, no one has ever suggested that our emphasis on technological trinkets robs of leisure time! How insightful of you!

    I've covered this before, but here it is again:

    The United States of America has a strong streak of consumerism at the core of its cultural values. We think that we must buy the latest doodads to keep up with the Joneses. This impulse contributes to our self-esteem and the granting of esteem by our peers.

    Look at some of the sociological studies done with regards to clothing and other items with large, obvious logos. Most of them are bought by lower class and lower middle class people to show that they have the money to spend on these things. Those in what is traditionally regarded as the upper class, if they have been raised in that lifestyle, do not buy such things because they and their peers can recognize "quality" when they see it and don't need logos. You can see the same thing in many rural areas--I cannot count the number of times I've passed a trailer home or a little shanty with a satellite dish or an outrageously customized automobile outside.

    We are taught that we must buy everything we can. Combine this with a government that takes between twenty and forty percent of the average person's yearly wages (or more), and add in the fact that a quality education (which most parents want for their children) is increasingly expensive and hard to find, and you have the formula that makes both parents work overtime in salary jobs because they can't afford not to.

    The American Dream used to be the chance of success. Now the American Dream is two mortgages, heavy credit card bills and functionally illiterate children who refuse to have anything to do with their hapless parents.

    What does technology have to do with all of this?

    In most cases, technological items are simply more gizmos to be hawked to the unwary. When was the last time you really needed to spend over a thousand dollars on a stereo system? The items we buy are being packaged with more and more "features," each more incomprehensible than the last, in an effort to pander to the lowest common denominator. "Look, honey! It's got 89 settings, it must be better than this one with 32!"

    Since companies can charge more for these gizmos, we have to work harder to buy them. We have to buy them to maintain our self-esteem (without which you're in bad shape and, in extreme cases, driven to cull yourself from the gene pool).

    Ergo, the corporate and government interests that run significant portions of our society have condemned millions of people to a lifetime of wage slavery. The sad thing is that these people don't always fully realize what is happening until it's too late.

    Fight the Power.

  • You see a guy with his pager, his cell phone, his PDA, his laptop, and now with his groovy net enabled car. Why does he do it? Status. IF you're busy as hell, stressed out, pissed off most of the time, and people see you as such, they will prolly say "hey, he's REALLY busy, I guess he's an important person." Hey gotta go, my cell phones ringing, my pagers going off, and I have 50 people on ICQ I have to talk to. =)
  • 70 percent of respondents were in the 'somewhat' to 'extremely' stressed bracket. It makes no mention of the other brackets but I can make a guess that there were some others in between 'no stress'. I can also guess that very few people aged 35 and younger responded that they have no stress in their lives.
  • My homephone number forwards to my cellphone for my convenience. I have a cellphone so that I don't have to be any particular place not so that I can be at everyone's beck and call. My friends know that my preferred methods of communication are email and face-to-face gatherings (not necessarily in that order). My employer knows that I consider my primary job to be ensuring that there are no emergencies that require my dropping everything to come in. Most of the problems are self-correcting or can wait until the next morning at 9am.

    In general, much of the stress in my life stems from not saying "no" when appropriate, not setting priorities and being too available for ad hoc reactive non-value-added bullsh*t instead of being proactive, strategic and thoughtful.

    In short, go home, don't think about work, don't answer the phone when you're eating dinner or engrossed in the latest Harry Potter novel, and use your cellphone to order pizza while at the beach. It will seem strange the first dozen or so times, but its a habit worth cultivating.
  • That's true, if you happen to have the skills to jump ship at any time. Most don't. You and I are lucky enough to be largely exempted from the situation I described. Most aren't. The economy is more than tech workers (thank god). Be thankful for what you have and realize that most don't have it. Remember it's not just tech workers who are tied to their jobs with these little technological marvels like pagers and cell phones.
  • I did quit my job and get one with fewer hours. It's less money too, but I can't tell you what a difference it's made for me in terms of my quality of life. Not everyone has the luxuries that you have attributed to the tech caste though. As tech people, we do enjoy a very privileged spot in the economic system that currently is in place. Don't think that very many others in the workforce share our good fortune. Katz wasn't (only) talking about tech people in his article. It's people in all areas who are now tied even more tightly to their jobs by their cell phones, pagers, and PDAs. And most of them don't possess job skills that enable them to jump ship at will. Katz's point remains: what benefits have individuals gained from the "digital revolution", in terms of leisure time and quality of life?
  • ...has some good thinking on the reality of jobs in America.

    CLAWS: Creating Livable Alternatives to Wage Slavery [whywork.org]
  • by Jerky McNaughty (1391) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @05:08AM (#943208)

    It's not built for the benefit of individuals any longer, but for the benefit of corporations.

    But who's forcing us to work these jobs? That's right, no body. We choose to. If we decide that the stress or hours are too much, then we should quit. It's all your choice. The corporations don't force us to work these hours. I'm tired of people bitching about their jobs, then doing nothing to better it. I hated my previous job but rather than complain about the hours, I found a new one.

    One of the biggest problems I see with the tech industry is that way too many employees don't know how to interview their employer to see if it's a place they want to work. I see this most with just-out-of-school grads (of which I was one not long ago). It's hard to know what questions to ask to see if your potential co-workers are any good at what they do, to see if the project will be interesting for you, etc.

    But I digress... If you don't like your job or the way the corporation is treating you, no one makes you stay there. Anyone worth anything in the tech industry could have a new job in a second.

  • by JonKatz (7654) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @08:31AM (#943209) Homepage


    Getting lots of interesting e-mail, one of which is reprinted at the end of this message: To me, it comes down to choice. If you feel you are free to disconnect at any time without penalty, thereis no issue. If you feel you can't without suffering in some way, then there's a problem.As is the case with this e-mailer:

    I'm 19, I've been working in IT since I was 16, and been working with
    > Linux in specific since I was 13 years old, I've got a mile long list of
    > abilities, and I've recently moved from Seattle to Milwaukee to be with my
    > girlfriend, and also to evade the work market in Seattle, as it envolves
    > lots of 80-90 hour weeks most of the time. Needless to say, in my last
    > job in Seattle, I was accually asked to resign because I made absoutley
    > sure I was working exactally 40 hours each week, after the first few
    > weeks of not getting any compensation for my long hours. (No "number of
    > hours considered a work week" was present in my contract, Washington state
    > defines a work week as 40 hours.)
    >
    > When I moved to Milwaukee, I made the explicit declaration in my resume
    > that I was seeking a standard 9-5 job, but that I would gladly be on call
    > 24/7 for emergencies. I've been told by numerious employers that a 50-60
    > hour work week would be required from them for "server maintaince and
    > upkeep", which basically envolves setting up a paging system like
    > NetSaint, and waiting for trouble to strike. When I inquired further as to
    > what kind of compensation would be provided for extra hours, I was
    > informed that it would be agreed that 60 hours was a standard work week in
    > any potitental contract I may sign with xxx company. In one case, I asked
    > what the hours of my possible supervisor were, I was told 40, and that was
    > because "he was 35, and had a lots of Linux experience". I've been working
    > with Linux for 6 years, I can code C in my sleep, I've even given
    > interested employers ideas on things I can do to increase profit with less
    > resource and even pointed them to some of the GPL C programs I've written,
    > still, this outlandish requirement of too many hours exists.
    >
    > I've tryed rationally informing employers that a 50-60 hour work week is
    > not acceptiable, because I also have a life at home with my girlfriend,
    > they seem to feel that's some kind of personality flaw, and quite frankly,
    > I'm getting fairly sick of it.
    >
    > I've just now polished up my resume, removed that request, and am sending
    > it back arround, because unfortunatley in this world you can't live too
    > long without money, but this is a growing trend I feel ought to be
    > scrapped ASAP. As of right now, I've got 3 resumes, one that makes me look
    > like a script kiddie (essientally), one that makes me look like I'm still
    > learning, and one that's my accuall list of abilities. I'm trying to sort
    > through job offers to figure out what one to send xxx company as we speak.
    >
    > One last thing, if I do find a job that's 40 hours that sounds reasonable,
    > I'm informed that they aren't looking for anyone "with as much experience
    > as you have", because either "they don't feel they could pay adiquatley",
    > or because "we want someone who's still learning to some degree, so we can
    > learn as well". I've learned to hate both comments, because no matter how
    > many times I say, "the pay scale you have presented to me seems more
    > than adiquate", they've still made their decision, and the conversation
    > is over.
    >
    > Just my 2 cents,
    >
  • by Robotech_Master (14247) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @07:22AM (#943210) Homepage Journal
    I don't have an office-type job yet, so it may just be me...

    But does nobody else use the 'net almost entirely for their leisure? I have a group of friends I hang out with online, I get my jollies from posting to Usenet and mailing lists, and if I'm deprived of contact with my friends for a while, I start feeling anxiety, and that's just no fun.

    I would like to think that if I did have an office 'net-connected job, and used Internet access from home, I would do it just for fun stuff, not for job stuff. I know the difference between fun and work, and you won't catch me doing one bit more work than I absolutely have to...unless I should find I love my job, and then the two roll into one.
    --

  • by Bryan Andersen (16514) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @12:43PM (#943211) Homepage

    If a company wants me to have a pager, they pay for it. If they want me to have a cell phone, they pay for it. If they contact me off work hours, they pay for the time in minimum 1 hour increments and all travel time is charged. If they contact me durring a vacation, then that vacation day is now fully charged as a work day even if it only took one minute to handle it. All overtime (>40 hours a week) must be paid for, no comptime allowed.

    I'm very tempted to make a rule where all hours spent on company related trips are charged from the time I leave my home till the time I return home, or atleast one vacation day per day away from home.

    Why do I have this set of rules? It's employer abuse that caused me to set them up.

  • by BilldaCat (19181) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:40AM (#943212) Homepage
    I would say a LARGE portion of tech workers surf the web for 2+ hours a day. I know I do. Usually, I'm keeping current on news/tech/stuff, but it doesn't really feel like work. I consider that part of my leisure time. Most of my free time in the evenings though lately has been going towards working on freelance projects, and startup-websites (yes, even one on C#, -1 karma pls tks). :)

    And I refuse to take my pager/etc when I go on vacation. I don't own a cell, and don't plan on owning one. My vacation time is MINE, and I'm not going to let work interrupt it.
  • by drenehtsral (29789) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:36AM (#943213) Homepage
    Technology was supposed to free us from the particular set of shackles that were the affliction of the industrial age. Now that we are moving towards the post-industrial information economy and all that shit, we have a new set of shackles. People are really good at that, making up new ways to be stressed out. I think we'd get bored otherwise...
  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @05:03AM (#943214) Homepage Journal
    Sort of.

    The thing is, I'm a hacker. It's creative.

    Nobody expects a painter or a musician to punch a clock, or measure the value of his or her output by volume. When the inspiration hits, you work. When you are stuck, you read slashdot, or do the countless other kinds of woolgathering activities that allow your subconscious to reorganize so you can attack the problem fresh. Pleasure vs. work is not the relevant dichotomy -- other kinds of balances have to be struck: social vs. isolated; family vs. clients, physical vs. intellectual.

    I'm fortunate, because my boss is pretty well resigned to getting results in irregularly spaced but prodigious bursts. Being a programmer, I'm in an elite class of workers and one that where I work is understood to be creative. Not everyone can do what I do, nor can everyone who can do it as well as I do. But there are lots of folks out there that are exploited. Worse than exploited -- wasted is more like it. The problem is that as information becomes a bigger part of the economy, the problem of measuring a person's contribution becomes bigger. Stupid bosses go for time as the metric. It's about the worst metric there is because all you have to do is to occupy a defined space for a defined period of time to "accomplish" something. In fact I think most folks who push paper could cut their work week down to 25-30 hours and actually get more and better work done. Even hackers should get lots more vacation, IMHO, but spread out through the year.

    But... you still have to pull all nighters, not just for deadlines. For truly creative work, there's no substitute for being able to hack until dawn because you've got the bit in your teeth.
  • by CrayDrygu (56003) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:46AM (#943215)
    I'm going to Denver at the end of the month, and my pager is staying at home. In fact, even if Denver was in the service area, it would be staying at home.

    I do wish I had a laptop to take with me, for entertainment on the plane and so I could keep hacking on a script I'm writing, but I'm doing that for fun anyway. I won't be checking my work email, I won't be telling them where I am (besides "Denver") or how to reach me (even I don't know that), because I'd rather relax and have fun. No way I'm gonna have any connection to the office for that week.

    It's sad that other people don't know how to do the same thing. People have always been "overworked and underpaid," but when you throw in the amount of stress that a lot of people have these days (whether it's their own fault or not), people really need to learn how to take a vacation. It's like the stress is such a part of them that they can't just lay back in the sun for a while and soak up some cancer-causing rays without a death grip on their cell phone, just in case the office needs them.

    You need your vacation time more than the office does. Remember that. If you're gonna stay tied to work, what's the point in leaving in the first place?

    --

  • by imac.usr (58845) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @06:14AM (#943216) Homepage
    I'm a geek, I love gadgets, I have no problem speaking tekspek with friends and colleagues, I'll be first in line to get the cybernetic skull interface, etc. Yet I'm overly-stressed, and have problems sleeping. Why?

    It's the job and its use of technology that gets me down. I work as a Mac tech support person in a largely Windows environment. My employer is less competent than I had hoped when I started, the client company is missing large bits of clue, and the users are, well, users.

    Now, I have it relatively easy here; I'm paid well for my high experience/low education level (no degree yet), the Mac calls are far less numerous than the PC ones (despite having a similar number of machines of each platform) my fellow techs have to run, and I don't have to work overtime. Plus, many of the questions are relatively simple ones - password requests and the like. The stress comes from my employer forcing me to become more Windows-savvy (life's too short for that), their disconcerting management practices, the stress of dealing with clients and their frequent lack of understanding, and the knowledge that this isn't what I wanted to be doing with my life when I was younger. My main escape is through technology: blasting away at bots in Unreal Tournament, learning Java via computer-based training modules (so I can get a programming job and cause problems rather than have to fix them), or just generally goofing off on one of the many computers at home.

    So, technology is causing my stress on one level, but relieving it on another. I suspect many other readers have a similar love/hate relationship.

  • by vinay (67011) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:43AM (#943217) Homepage

    I really can't think of an employer who WANTS their employees to look at porn. I mean, really. Yes, I'm sure our employers want us to be at work longer, but what's the point of being at work longer if you're not getting anything done?

    Students use instant messaging a lot! God, no! it's some faculty conspiracy?? No! How many times have I messaged my prof's? umm.. let's try zero. I message friends essentially exclusively. I'm not working, when I'm messaging (unless I'm ICQing as I'm coding.. which is possible..). The point is, ICQ detracts from work, it doesn't add to it.

    Yes, I'll warrant that we're working longer hours, and we're more available, but I doubt that's part of some evil corporate conspiracy. Yes, I'll warrant that layoff's are up (though I'm not sure of that one.. any stats on that??), but it's not some The Man using technology against us as Jon would apparently have us believe.

    also, people 18-35 being more stressed? Aren't these people in the prime of their life? Aren't they trying to find jobs and make some sense of their lives? I bet that this age group has always (well.. for quite some time.. ) been pretty stressed.

    gaaaaaaaa

    -V

  • by bguilliams (68934) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:50AM (#943218)
    I've been in this industry for almost exactly two years. I had no background in it and have been relying entirely on aptitude to compete with the guys who were coding at birth. I'm now making three times the money I was making when I was busting my ass bartending, welding, or pretending to be a musician.

    From my point of view, these technological shackles, have totally changed my life for the better. I have a house, a car that doesn't suck, a lawn that always needs watering, and a family. I have infinite free time compared to the past. If I choose to spend that free time connected to the electronic heroin at Battle.Net, you can hardly blame the laptop.

    People may be dragging their cell-phones everywhere they go, but it's because they like looking important. How can we complain about people bringing palm-pilots on vacation? We can finally afford those vacations!

    I guess I just don't see the downside...

  • by pingflood (105369) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @08:21AM (#943219)
    As can be seen in this image [aol.com] of an older typewriter, the '1' key was often left out, forcing people to use the 'l' instead. No, this is no joke. :-)

    So, you may notice people who have been around for a while, or simply used older typewriters when they started out, will write like this...

    -pf

  • by n9fzx (128488) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:50AM (#943220) Homepage Journal
    That depends on your definition of Work. You think that sitting around reading Slashdot is WORK? Try moonlighting as a railroad employee (brakeman or track worker) and see what real work is all about.

    What Katz sees as evidence of Corporatism is nothing more than employee greed. In the get-rich-quick IPO mania of the 90s, people have been willing to sacrifice their lives for a shot at retiring early. Nobody forced you to go to that pre-IPO startup with gobs of options, and you knew full well that it was a craps shoot. Sometimes the gamble pays off, and you'll be able to spend the rest of your life with your family and hobbies.

    But if you truly enjoy what you're doing, do you really care? Many of us were out to change the world and make it a better place, and no revolution was ever done 9 to 5.

  • by Golias (176380) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @06:01AM (#943221)
    Unless you're one of the few who make the big bucks, if you're not having fun it just isn't worth the effort.

    Oh, come on. I know second-year tech-support monkeys who make more money than a High School teacher with 15 years of experience. (I actually was a licensed teacher, and changed careers for that very reason.)

    If you are not getting paid a lot of money for what you do, you are either:

    1. A chump
    2. Incompentent
    3. Unable to comprehend how well-off you are.

    If you are making a modest salary, but are putting in long hours and are always on call, put yourself in category 1 on the above list.

  • by bluesninja (192161) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @05:35AM (#943222) Homepage

    Or hunter-gatherers, who have to work maybe four hours per day to ensure their survival.

    How many hours do we have to work to ensure our survival? Hint: Cable TV and Diablo II don't count as necessities for survival.

    /bluesninja

  • by ThE_DoOmSmItH (202602) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:38AM (#943223) Homepage
    i don't notice any lack of leasure time, i still go out, and doing other things, but i also spend my fair share of time playing computer games & chatting on irc. However, for some people who are too stupid to know better, it wouldn't supprise me. The main problem with this is people who don't know how to regulate their use of time with technology, and try to be 'cool' by having their cell phone on in a movie theatre, and getting people to call them. Personally, i find this annoying more than anything. Yes, i have a laptop, and a cell phone, but i don't go around getting people to call me all the time... People need to wise up about this crap, and learn to use it more effectively. -TubaMan
  • by Tomin8tor (207798) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @05:50AM (#943224)
    My Grandad on my mothers side used to work double and triple shifts in a Scottish coal mine. Often the second or third shift was unpaid. If it was paid, you might get (as he received one time) a cabbage (literally). And my Grandma was glad of getting that!

    The Code Mines are a nasty place to work
    - RSI, stress, headaches, tendonitis, bad eyes, etc. but the Coal Mines were worse - cave ins, coal dust in your lungs, cancer, naptha fumes, suffocation, never being clean.

    And whereas he gets paid in cabbage, I get paid a lot of money to do what I do. I can afford to take a month long LOA. I can afford to take a flight somewhere warm. I can throw the Palm in a drawer, the cell on my dresser, the laptop in my cupboard and bug out.

    The modern work world will eat your time IF YOU LET IT. If you decide you are going to work 11 months a year, then you can set that up. Career management. That is the key. Let people know your limits, and live with it. Yes it may impact your success, but that is the decision you have to make. If you feel you need that extra $10K enough to sacrifice your weekends for 5 months, then do it. If family, social life, and health pursuits are more important, then you'll accept that and get on with it.

    The old world never was a nice place. Those who think it was wonderful to live in the period of knights and chivalry were idiots. Diseases ran rampant, pogroms massacred minorities, and life expectancy was short. Plumbing was outdoor. Ignorance was the state of affairs.

    Similarly, those who cling to the "good old days" like say the 1950's, are clinging to an idea of a period that wasn't. The beginning of the cold war and real nuclear tensions were in existence. People were overconsuming and living in a faux utopia of excess that helped lead us to the sorry state we're in today.

    Today isn't the best of times and yesterday wasn't either. Give or take a bit, things are different but pretty much life isn't terribly better or terribly worse. It is different. The threats are different, as are the benefits and boons.

    So lets stop crying about the modern world. I have friends who wouldn't be alive without modern medicine. I myself wouldn't be so happy or well employed. And I wouldn't be able to have made so many friends around the world on the Internet.

    :) Tomb
  • by georgeha (43752) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:42AM (#943225) Homepage
    Separating work and leisure into different activities was only true as a result of the Industrial Revolution.

    Prior to the Industrial Revolution, if you were a farmer, you worked your farm, no matter how long it took. Ideally you gained satisfaction from what you were doing, seeing how your crops and animals grew, and you didn't mind the extra work.

    If you were an artisian, you worked at home doing your crafts, for as long as it took. You were doing something that interested you, and you worked extra hours and didn't complain about it.

    Once the Industrial Revolution came, you couldn't take your assembly line home with you. You worked your boring, mind numbing job, then went home.

    Today, if you're lucky, you get a job that interests you, and you may even work at it at night. UNIX and computers fascinate me, I would play with them at night even if I didn't have a job that dealt with them. The fact that my job deals with UNIX and computers is only a bonus.

    To say that you should be free of your job at 40 hours a week misses the point, after 40 hours a week I'm free of the tedious paperwork, but I still play with technology.

    George
  • by _vapor (55645) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:37AM (#943226) Homepage
    Sure, maybe we are "stressed" these days, and feel tied to jobs from which we can't escape -- but think about how great it is that these technologies allow us to have careers where we don't have to shovel coal 22 hours a day. I moan about my job sometimes, but if I had to work in the meat-packing industry in turn of the century Chicago, I would kill to be tied down to a tech job.
  • by wnissen (59924) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @06:11AM (#943227)
    You hit the nail right on the head. I have a friend who lives very frugally so that he can spend nine months out of the year at the Library of Congress researching whatever topics he pleases. The other three months, he works on the farm he owns. So for him, the answer to that question is: about 10 hours a week, on average. This same man figured out that by buying grain, vitamins and powdered milk in bulk, it is possible to get a nutritionally complete diet for US$0.17 a day.

    Thus if you assume rent at US$300/mo (not unreasonable for a room) and health care at US$200/mo, we're looking at less than $20 a day. Not hard to do when many fast food places are offering better than minimum wage. So if you are willing to live very frugally, without dependents, surviving at the hunter gatherer level (and probably in better health) costs maybe 20 hours a week. Of course, if you're willing to work as a web developer, it's probably closer to 2 hours a week. Me, I want my DSL and my wine cabinet and my car and my (future) house and my meals out. But it can be done.

    Walt
  • by forgey (84323) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @06:43AM (#943228) Homepage
    People certainly do lose their jobs, or at the very least have the threat of being fired dangled in front of them.

    I work for a company that doesn't just expect _unpaid_ overtime, they flat out tell you they expect it. A 60 hour work week here is average, and for some departments, not enough. There is one guy who's doctor told him to go on stress leave indefinitely, he is wound up as tight as a drum and I am surprised he hasn't had a breakdown yet. The company gave him permission to take stress leave, but when he came back a week later to pick something up from his desk they didn't hesitate to keep him there all day answering questions. He's been back at work ever since.

    I recently decided that my declining personal relationship with my long term girlfriend and most of my friends needed some attention. I started showing up for work at 8 and leaving at 5, taking my full hour for lunch. This has lasted for about 3 months and during my annual review I was told I wasn't a team player, wasn't working hard enough and if I didn't start spending more time at work I would lose my job. This of course just pissed me off and I have doubled my efforts to find a good job where they will treat me right.

    I've been working here for 2 years and have banked up 4 weeks of vacation time, mostly because when I ask for a day (1 freaking day) off they give me a hard time and end up paging me for something anyway. I was at the gym the other day and had my pager turned off in my locker while I was showering and they were trying to page me. I didn't get yelled at, but it was made abundantly clear they weren't pleased that I didn't get back to them right away.

    In any event, this does happen and it happens all too often.

    forge
  • one thing I've noticed when I come across the pond to the US - and especially Silicon Valley - is the Long-Hour culture...and how it is so much a complete lie.

    People may well be in the office for 18 hours a day, but how much is actually working? Perhaps the need for change is not for less tech, but more sensible management telling you to just do the job quickly and then GO HOME - placing more emphasis on getting it done and less on being seen taking ages over it.
  • by briancarnell (94247) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @05:36AM (#943230) Homepage
    Why complain about the increase in work hours for women since 1979? I thought the whole point was that it was a Good Thing(TM) for women to have better opportunities in the work place. What's next? Are you going to complain about the evils of child care keeping women from taking care of their children at home, Mr. Katz?

    The interesting thing about the increase in work hours is *why* people work longer. Consider, for example, professional people who work more than one job. When you ask them *why* the answer is not "because I need the money, etc." but on average because they want the job to fulfill some personal or professional goal.
  • by streetlawyer (169828) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:34AM (#943231) Homepage
    Almost all of us -- especially the people reading this -- have less leisure time than ever.

    STOP READING THIS AND DO SOME F'KNG WORK, DAMN YOU!

  • by Golias (176380) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:40AM (#943232)
    News Flash! Young Workers Under More Stress Than Retired People, Children

    ... American Demographics, found that adults aged 35 and younger were the most stressed people in the population.

    And just exactly who do you think should be more stressed than 18-35 year old workers?

    The way this story should have read is, "a report from American Demographics show that work-related stress drops dramatically as you get older. The good news to those under 35 is that there is light at the end of the tunnel."

  • by Jason Earl (1894) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @10:07AM (#943233) Homepage Journal

    I couldn't agree more. I think that the only thing that has gone up since 30 years ago is the number of people that are habitual complainers.

    My grandfather's generation lived through the depression, went to war in World War II, and basically didn't have a third of the comforts that I take for granted, and yet they somehow managed to be pretty darn optimistic about their lives, their future, and their country. His grandparents hiked clear across the U.S. cooking their meals with Buffalo poop. Compared to my forebears I wouldn't know stress if it smacked me in the face with a tomahawk.

    Nowadays Americans don't really have to worry about things like invading tribes of Mongols, or the Black Plague, and so instead we worry about our stress levels. We habitually whine about how hard our life is without even realizing that pretty much the entire world would happily switch places with us.

    I went to high school in Lima, Peru and if there is one thing that I learned from my time there it is that I have no room to complain. My life is not that hard, nor do my pitiful little worries amount to a hill of beans. The average American will almost certainly live longer and be more successful than 99% of the people that have ever lived on this planet, and yet all we do is complain.

  • by AugstWest (79042) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:37AM (#943234)
    Everything in moderation, eh? I'm working for a startup, and it has been made abundantly clear that days off, holidays and vacation time means no contact. None.

    I've brought a laptop on one vacation so far, and it was just to have something to dump the digital camera into. I allow myself *no* net access on the road.

    Who knows how long this tech bonanza is going to continue... It may be 5 years, it may be ten, or it may pay at these ludicrous rates for the rest of our lives, although that's doubtful.

    The point is that if you're going to be in this field for a long time, don't burn yourself out. It's bad enough that there are so few people with genuine experience already... If you have people killing themselves 24/7 on tech, in 4 or 5 years they're going to need to do something completely different just to remain sane.

    Unplug once in a while. Take a month off from IRC and watch your RL relationships get back to a normal level. Turn off the machines at home and listen to the lack of hum... I'm willing to bet you'll actually physically notice your heart rate slowing. I know mine does.

    Your heart has a specific number of beats it's going to complete before you kack. Try to savor a few of them :]
  • by Mark F. Komarinski (97174) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:50AM (#943235) Homepage
    But there's a huge trade off for this convenience. Inforum's l999 Survey from the MEDSTAT group, reports American Demographics, found that adults aged 35 and younger were the most stressed people in the population. Nearly seven in 10 said they were "somewhat" to "extremely" stressed, an astonishing contrast to adults over 65: 31 percent of them said they had almost no stress in their lives at all.

    Huh? 7 in 10 is 70 percent. That would imply that 30 percent had no stress. That's pretty darn similar to the 31 percent of those over 65 who had no stress. What's the point?
  • by SlushDot (182874) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @06:55AM (#943236)
    You earned your vacation time. You earned the ABSOLUTE RIGHT not to have to work during that time. The company OWES YOU. Your vacation time is golden. Vacation is not "permitted only when convenient for the company". Nothing is so important that someone else at the office can't handle it and needs to bother you on your vacation. On your vacation, you are God. Always remember this.

    Now for the tips to avoid having your off time fucked up.

    (1) Never give your personal cell number to co-workers. If you did, leave the cell phone home on vacation, or change the number or take a different phone (for *your* use on vacation). This advice also applies to personal email.

    (2) Tell co workers you're unreachable because yoiu're going on a cruise to Tahiti even if you're just going to work around the house on vacation. This reduces morons trying to **STEAL** your hard earned vacation time from you.

    (3) Next, get rid of your answering machine. Once I realized that my answering only serves the caller and not me, I got rid of it. With the Caller ID box, I never answer the phone unless I recognize the number and want to answer it. 999/1000 times if it says "Out of Area"/"Unavailable" it's telemarketing scum. As for everyone else, getting ring... ring... ring... ring... endlessly with no opportunity to leave messages serves them right for bothering you. Works wonders with debt collectors wrongfully trying to collect from you too.

    (4) Don't capitulate. Don't listen to office voice mail on vacation. It'll just add stress or worse, may cause you to cave and solve problems.

    (5) Don't accept "deals". "Come back a day early and take another day or two later." Contiguous days off is != to the sum of its parts. Work-DayOff-Work-DayOff-Work-DayOff-Work-DayOff-Wo rk (that's 4 days off) is not the same as 3 days off in a row.

    Do all of these things and know that it is RIGHT for you to do them. Your hard earned vacation time takes absolute priority over all work related issues. Now quit reading this (you're dangerously close to "doing work") in your hotel room and go back to the beach!

  • by exploder (196936) on Tuesday July 11, 2000 @04:37AM (#943237) Homepage
    ...of the way society has been moving for a long time. It's not built for the benefit of individuals any longer, but for the benefit of corporations. Think about (in the US) the processes of government and economic participation, and ask yourself where the balance of power lies between individuals and corporations. Is it any surprise then that the benefits from technological advance have gone almost exclusively to the corporations rather than the individual workers themselves? I predict that unless and until some kind of revolution takes place, workers will continue to see thier leisure time eroded and their freedom dimished. Until that time, it will not get any better in terms of true quality and meaning of life.

"You need tender loving care once a week - so that I can slap you into shape." - Ellyn Mustard

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