Even activities that have the guise of leisure can actually pull us into work mode. “Our Internet-enabled devices may be harnessed to research personal or professional development,â€ says Jenny Ungbha Korn, an award-winning race, gender, and online identity scholar. “While some individuals may be quick to call Facebooking a leisure activity, those people may overlook the digital capital inherent in Facebook’s affordance of context collapse, which conflates the divide between “work” and “personal” contacts through a general Facebook “friends” category. The person we meet online may wind up a business contact,â€ Korn says.
Lillie Mae, president of the Lillie Mae PR Agency, echoed that sentiment. “Social media apps give you a direct line to promote your business to potential customers around the clock.â€
Finding a Tech Work/Leisure Balance
Because tech gadgets are incredible tools for both work and play, the lines between the two keep blurring. It’s so easy to Skype a friend on an iPad while answering a text from the boss on a smartphone.
Easy, that is, until one ends up frazzled and burnt out. How is it possible to maintain a balance and find time to enjoy life, especially if one is an on-the-go professional who needs to almost always be connected to work?
Fred Mwangaguhunga, founder of MediaTakeOut.com, relayed his own struggle in finding the balance between using tech for work and leisure. “I can say that I spend practically all day on my phone,â€ said Mwangaguhunga, adding that he wasn’t sure if that was “a good or bad thing.â€ He also says that while technology added to his leisure time by allowing him more access to friends and family due to apps like Facebook and FaceTime, “I am always tethered to the office. I will always answer a text,â€ he admits.
MwangaguhungaÂ says problems arise when there is no separation. He tries to set boundaries and realizes that employees and colleagues may not want to be work-connected all the time “just because I am tethered 24/7,â€ he says. His takeaway is realizing that—even when others call, text or email with work “emergenciesâ€—everything is not an emergency and “the world will go on.â€ “It’s okay not to answer,â€ Mwangaguhunga says.
Renowned mental health expert and assistant professor and course director at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Jeff Gardere, says that tech has both positive and negative impacts on our leisure and work time.
Regarding leisure time, Gardere says that technology’s positive effect is “that anything we want is at our fingertips—information, relaxation, movies, shows, … .â€ Although he did caution that tech can be negative if we just plug in and use it as our only source for recreation and relaxation.
Still, Gardere says that being connected via tech is beneficial for work “when you love what you do.â€ However, he also stressed the all-important work/life balance. His advice is to not get so wrapped up in the fact that technology allows us to be in the office anytime. Doing so can lead to becoming “very narcissistic and selfish, and not looking at the needs of those around you–a spouse, children, and others,â€ he says.