14/30: On Isolation

14/30: On Isolation

No one wants to feel alone, but the modern age traffics heavily in encouraging it.

This is the fourteenth of thirty days of stories.

We as a species have a thirst for knowledge, an overwhelming desire to know all of the answers, based around two central fears; fear of loneliness, and fear of the unknown.

Both of these fears are survival mechanisms that go back hundreds of thousands of years through humanity’s evolution, but they don’t have much practical use today. Fear of loneliness specifically is a relic of a time when you needed to be part of a group in order to survive, in a very literal sense.

If you couldn’t prove your value and help the group to succeed, you would have been left behind to starve to death — or worse.

Fast forward to today, and we see an increasing trend among major businesses to be remote-friendly, or in some cases be completely remote. WordPress developers Automattic recently announced plans to sell off their gorgeous San Francisco office because hardly anyone was using it.

In a lot of ways, working remotely seems like a no-brainer; companies have access to an international talent pool, and employees get to do great work without being subjected to the inconveniences of the modern office job, like long commutes. In fact, certain major employers have started emphasizing that it’s less about the time that their employees put in, and more about the results that they obtain.

Working remotely has a certain romanticism to it — how great does it sound to get out of bed, have a coffee, and start the day without leaving the house or changing clothes?

My last position was remote and I found it incredibly difficult, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, my office was in my bedroom and my parents were very early to bed, so I found myself spending upwards of eighteen hours a day in the same room of the house.

If you work remotely, you probably want to have an office or other area where you can work from. There’s the stereotype of people working from coffee shops, but it’s certainly effective if you need a change of scenery.

Secondly, communication. For remote workers, live chat tools such as Slack, or even Discord, have become an increasing necessity. Slinging emails back and forth between half-a-dozen co-workers is not only incredibly ineffective, it wastes time and destroys productivity.

Similarly, video conferences and other meetings only serve to waste more time that a remote employee could actually be working, because they are now being forced to stick to an arbitrary schedule.

Philosophically, at least part of the point of remote work is being able to do it anytime; if remote employees are expected to attend regularly scheduled meetings, a company probably should have hired office staff.

We all feel alone sometimes, so what do we do about it? If we’re able to do so, we make time to see our friends and loved ones.

As has been said many times, it’s not a coincidence that even though we are now more connected than ever, there’s still a pervasive culture of isolation that persists.

Sending a dozen text messages a day to someone doesn’t carry the same weight as having a face-to-face conversation with them, even if it’s mechanically the same.

It’s far more convenient to jot out a quick message than it is to even place a phone call, but that degree of separation, where we are interacting not with another person but with our devices, has certainly bolstered the everyday isolation that many already feel.

Can we ever truly know another person? People much smarter than I have been asking that question for centuries. After all, we as a species have a thirst for knowledge, an overwhelming desire to know all of the answers, even if we never asked the question and would rather not know the answer.

If you enjoyed this piece, maybe you’d like to work with me?

Source: Medium:Remote Working
14/30: On Isolation

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