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Balancing act [Technically speaking]

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2 Author(s)

In the mid-2000s, the phrase on the lips of every cultural maven, pundit, and lifestyle reporter was work-life balance, a near-mythical state of equilibrium in which the demands of both a person's job and personal life are equal. At the heart of this popular phrase was the idea that our society was becoming work-obsessed to the point of dysfunction, and only by dialing back the workweek creep-the gradual extension of the workweek marked by performing workrelated activities during nonwork hours-could we regain equipoise. Well, that didn't work. Those of us lucky enough to have jobs are working more than ever, and leisure is increasingly giving way to weisure-free time spent doing work or work-related tasks. So our cultural Cassandras had to come up with something else to demonize, and they've settled upon technology itself. They say that our former work obsession has morphed into a technology obsession in which we prefer fiddling with shiny gadgets over relating to real people. The new cri de coeur is for tech-life balance. We must, the battle cry goes, learn to use technology in ways that don't interfere with or reduce the quality of our personal lives or relationships. Hence the proliferation of disconnect porn-articles and features that tell us to turn off, tune out, and drop in on people in the real world. We hear about black-hole resorts, which block all incoming and outgoing Internet signals, part of a larger category of technology-free traveling called disappearance tourism. We're told to increase our doses of NST (non'screen time) and to spend more time living IRL (in real life). This demonization of the online experience and insistence that the overconnected unplug and revel in the real has been dubbed the IRL fetish.

Published in:

Spectrum, IEEE  (Volume:50 ,  Issue: 2 )