In the dark and mysterious days of pre-history, you’d go out hunting with your fellow tribespeople, kill something awesome to eat, and then take it home with your fellow tribespeople to be cooked. Living hand-to-mouth, there was no separation between your working life and your home life.
Thankfully, we became more civilised and we better understood the need to have Work and Private lives. Work was where you went to get paid. Private was where you spent the money you made at Work. If you wanted a better Private life, you adjusted your Work life to fund better things. But there was a clear and obvious barrier between Work and Private unimaginable back in the pre-historic age.
Technology has a cunning talent to make savages out of the noblest society. When I go to work, I know that several people have read my FacesBook status, or seen the pictures of me drunkenly playing the ‘Break Down the Heteronormative Framework at this Party’, or seen the inappropriate comments of my friends saying all kinds of curious things. My Private and my Work blur at the edges.
And it can lead to all kinds of fun. My younger sibling posted particularly morbid lyrics as his status. A friend of my mother saw the update, called my mother, and asked if my brother was okay. Mother dearest called my sibling and gave him a serve. During a previous relationship, I decided that I didn’t want to profess my relationship status. This sent a message to all of my girlfriend’s friends stating that she was no longer listed as in a relationship.
And then there are those clever folk who managed to mix Work and Private a bit too much. Examples like these have caused people to opine that we need to start being more careful about what we do in our private lives because our work lives can so easily discover them.
Aristotle wrote that we’re creatures of the polis. As social monkeys, we make friendships at our workplaces and the like, so it would make sense — now we’re in the age of Social Networking where everybody must know my every thought at every moment — that these social networks would extend to our occupational networks. But it also seems reasonable to think that we should be able to relax in the Private Spheres of our lives. If I go out for a fun night on the magic sauce, I shouldn’t have to worry that one of my friends will upload the pictures to FacesBook. I’d think that my colleagues would have the good sense to think: ‘Yes, Mark exists outside of work. I’m okay with that. What he does there is fine.’
The two examples linked above show what happen if you’re a complete nerk. Bitching about somebody who’s on your list of friends is a good way to be on the wrong side of drama, and leaving evidence for people to use against you should only be done if you’re this week’s baddie on NCIS.
So instead of being more careful about our private lives, perhaps it’s time for the workplace to stop treating its staff like they’re forever and always chained to their workplace identities. Of course, in the end, it’s not the workplace that suffers: it’s the individual who is sacked, or whatever.
In much happier news, TripleJ’s Hottest 100 has begun for 2009. Go vote.
In other news, the top fifty videos are on Rage right now. Go watch.