Remote work has driven us a little mad
A quick story today on how work culture is now internet culture
My story on the cover of the Monday Business section is a riffy one. It’s about how remote work has turned workplace culture into internet culture. It’s a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot over the year.
(Caveat: The reporting was all phoner, since I wrote it at the height of LA’s covid surge, so it’s less exciting than usual.)
I couldn’t put this into the piece, but obviously I have real experience with this issue.
Over this year of lockdowns and isolation, I’ve seen normally kind, rational people go mad. And of course it’s impacted me personally, in ways that are embarrassing to me: I was the target of so much bullying by my colleagues in 2020 that New York Magazine wrote about it. (I’m very lucky that I was born deeply and obnoxiously confident in myself.)
I don’t blame people for going crazy in lockdown or feeling angry and confused about how to be in an office online. The new workplace tools encourage it. They are designed to look like Reddit boards and Twitter streams, to feel a lot like Facebook’s Newsfeed. Work tools are designed to look like things we already love — so we will spend more time on them. The accident of blending workplace and social behavior together was inevitable.
Add to that the general rage that comes from isolation…
We were not meant to have our days spent interacting with black glass, on the other side of which are thousands of brilliant people working to keep us right there, right on that glass. The best way to keep someone on that glass is through anger, new outrages, new fights. It worked for the 2016 Trump campaign and it works in a million ways in our lives now that we don’t even see anymore.
So the machines overpower our gentle and dumb fleshy bodies.
(And that’s the optimistic take!)
Anyway, I turned these observations into an idea for a little reported story. So that’s what we’ve got today, my friends. Nothing too wild.
And as always, if you want to follow along for more personal writing and reflection, subscribe to my Judaism blog!
See you soon. Next up is…MIAMI. That one is just straight fun. The good times are a’coming back.