I need to add something to the BAD impacts of the expansion of technology. While fears of surveillance and control are warranted, they actually scare me quite less than the fear of being overworked. Perhaps I am desensitized to the fears of the former because they are a bit nebulous, and far away. I can feel myself being pushed to work harder than I think is sometimes acceptable in real time, so that danger is thus more real.
The incredible ease with which we can be contacted by our bosses or other people we work with creates an expectation that we are “on-tap” so to speak. If we can access the files at home, employers seem to assume that we should be willing to do so. That we can be sought out to be given an order or request at any moment is assumed by many. In my life, I experience this from students and bosses. There is much less divide between work and life as become expected to be increasingly more willing to rip ourselves out of moments with friends, family or even just ourselves to complete a task.
It also makes work more difficult. No longer are we able to bracket and divide our work. We cannot resolve to do all of Task A before moving onto Task B etc. Technology means that we live a life of interruptions. While I am working on Task A, I get a notification that my boss has an urgent expectation that I attend to Task B. As I attend to Task B a new notification appears from a student requiring me to jump all the way to Task G. I haven’t finished Task A yet, so that one is still a live-wire and my co-worker sends me yet another notification because they thought I was working on Task A and they need it to get done. Situations like this happen all the time and it takes mental energy to toggle between tasks. No longer do our days move sequentially, they require constant jumps between an array of unrelated tasks. It takes energy to make a mental transition and switch headspaces. Technology gives those with power over us the ability to demand we exert this sort of energy each and every day. It requires us to be on tap. It makes our homes become our offices. It wears us out.