Where is your mind?

Ever been out with a friend and instead of them paying attention to you they are doing something on their phones? RUDE! Or maybe you are the one who has ignored a friend in the past, we’ve all done it. That’s because our presence is now everywhere, you may physically be standing in a room with your friends but as soon as you access Facebook or emails on your phone you are elsewhere. In Gregg’s ‘Function creep: Communication technologies and anticipatory labour in the information workplace’, he coins this as the term “presence bleed”.

What does this mean for workplaces today? Employees are expected to put in time for their work outside of the office. The usual agenda for a modern worker would be to check and answer emails before work or perhaps even just before you go to bed. Work no longer stays at work it comes into your house; the lines between work and home have become increasingly blurred. Flexible has a whole new meaning now; even if an employer is on vacation they could still be contacted for work related matters, because well the internet is global so why not?

I was recently overseas, on the other side of this planet but still almost every day I would keep in contact with my mum through viber, just to let her know I was alive.  It’s a scary thought that there is no real escape from communication at home (I love you mum), or work we are still always connected to one another and in an instant your presence changes to another location.

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6 comments

  1. The person on their phone all the time is me. People just have a fear of missing out on things I guess. The only way to keep up with whats happening is to stay connected all the time. There is no time on the internet so the world isn’t going to stop for you while you’re asleep or away from a screen. I agree that it is a very scary though that it’s almost impossible to escape from communication. The easiest way is to just turn off and that’s even harder than it sounds. I’ve even found that my phone wont stop buzzing while I’m sleeping unless I actually turn it off.

  2. I hate that person on the phone all the time, if you’re going out just to sit on your phone, why bother coming out? Yeah I dont like the whole idea of the workplace expanding through social networks, I dont want to be contacted with work matters when I’m not there, but that’s just me.

  3. I agree it is a scary thought that we never truly switch off, however, I feel that people are even more scared that if they do they will be left behind. People (myself included) get anxious when they are out of touch with technology for even a few hours let alone days or, God forbid, weeks at a time. This mentality also bleeds into the workplace. We seem to justify this behaviour by saying “If everyone else is working outside of designated hours and getting ahead then so should I.” Although it was once thought of as extra work, with many employees taking part it is now seen as the norm. This is a startling reality but a reality non-the less. With everyone constantly connected and with this way of thinking and behaving becoming an integral part of today’s society, I can’t see a way to reverse, or even slow down this progression.

  4. The “being around friends yet being on the phone” is a pet-peeve of mine – I understand the attraction of the internet and its glorious content but when I go to plan an event and organize to get mates together and hang out it just seems obnoxious to me that there would be someone who would just look down and play with their phone. Always get excuses as to my mate is using his phone, but I know they are just addicted to what is on their little screen.

    It seems there will be a time when the difference between each aspect of our lives will not exist, we will just blend the parts that interest us the most and move everything else aside, then avoid, then just get rid of certain aspects. Particularly with work and presence bleed the expansion of what can be considered work hours – looked for, and pushed by businesses can only do so much. How far down the chain of the hierarchical chain of employment would someone have to achieve before they can distinguish between their job and needing to have a life.

  5. Its funny, just 4 weeks ago I was in Europe, with the daily success of her Viber phone call from my mum reliant on how close she stood next to the Wireless router! Too right about putting in time outside of the office. Before I left I had a major disagreement with my own boss, who thought it was okay to ask me to work the night before I left the country! After back and fourth messaging attempting to negotiate with him, and my mum pressuring me to just follow his wishes, I gave in, and went to work. It didn’t kill me but it was an extremely icy atmosphere that night at work. Sometimes it seems that we as workers don’t even have a choice anymore, do what you’re told or pack your bags. Is technology entirely to thank for that?

  6. I feel that because our online presence exists everywhere we go with phone or tablet in hand, it’s sort of acceptable to be checking emails etc once around others. Perhaps a polite “sorry, just need to check….” however, I feel your pain on the issue of ignorance due to eyes being glued to phone. Your point made on the fact employers are still being contacted when on holidays caught my attention. My dad runs his own business and cannot stand being contacted outside of work hours – but technology has allowed this. I must tell him there is a new meaning to flexible, thanks!

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