Wednesday, November 04, 2009

How the Internet Enables Intimacy

Stefana Broadbent's research shows how when given (or taking) the opportunity to communicate with other people, we usually spend around 80% or our time in contact with 2 to 4 specific people.

I had sort of a disturbance within myself when she pointed out how separating work and intimacy was an artificial construct from the industrial revolution, because I really do not believe that your home and work worlds should intersect . . . to a point. But as I thought it over, I realized that the things I had the most problems with and had seen the most disruption form, were situations where someone tried to force an intimacy that wasn't already there. Especially when managers or supervisors are involved. I've seen supervisors try to set up employees to date their children. I've had one supervisor who was actually very offended with me because, while I WAS AWAY FROM WORK, I called my family, instead of her, for a personal problem. And people there wondered why I was so hestitant to share what happened to me outside of work.

Then I considered the research done on "job spouses" and other intimate relationships that develop in the work place because people spend more time there than with their own families. I thought about how the cost of broken homes finds its way into the work place, despite management's thinking that it can dictact how a person spends their mental time. It seems to me that this need for having intimate emotional contact is so basic to the human spirit, that if it isn't met in some constant way, it will be met in another.

I think we need a study comparing the family stability and rates of individual stress in work places were management tries to strictly prohibit employees from talking with those they are emotionally intimate with and companies that do not. I suspect that if we remove those few people who spend an exceeding amount of time on personal drama, that the data will show that people are usually more productive and healthy, when they can send little messages to friends and family every so often.

Of course, certain businesses, such as the one I currently work for, cannot allow cell phones in the work area for sercurity reasons. However, we are allowed to step away to certain areas so we can text family and friends.

As for the personal business abusers, in my personal experience, most of those who are bad about spending lots of time on personal issues, usually will find some way to be just as disruptive when they can't talk to people outside the office. The two worst coworkers I had in this area had the impulsive need to interrupt the rest of the people in the office. In fact, there was a time when I almost went to HR and asked them to take the restriction off of one of them, because she was interferring with MY productivity so much with her neurotic need for attention.

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