Work and Leisure – “Why would I pay you to be on Facebook all day?”

Don Philpott☘️ in Personal brandDigital MarketingSocial Media Marketing Global AR/VR Digital Strategy Director☘️ at • http://www.AD


Work and Leisure - "Why would I pay you to be on Facebook all day?"

A few years ago I started working in the digital marketing field.

I explained to my wife at the time (she is still my wife, only the time has moved on) that this form of business advertising would replace brick and mortar advertising quite quickly, considering how much time most people were spending on computers and personal media devices, plus the concurrent shift away from local TV and print media.

One  issue with my new business idea was that local business owners (people over 30), did use TV and print advertising, and bought daily newspapers.  Mainly out of habit, I would imagine, as it was obvious to rational people that the quality of “news reporting” had declined rapidly at the same time as the proliferation of digital media outlets had expanded.  More information % less time = sensational gossip.

When I proposed digital marketing services, business owners often looked at me askance and questioned; “why would I pay someone to play on Facebook, that’s not work?” This was much the same question I received 3 years before when I opened up Adventure Therapy Ireland; why would people pay to spend time “idling” in the mountains?  Usually spoken by someone who had a second home in Spain, I should add.

Where I come to debate is where work is payment for suffering and leisure is “idleness,” a mortal enemy of profitability – “automated employees in a networked society”.  Where you must demonstrate to your “boss,” servility, lower social status and a subservient nature – disguised in job ads as “a team player looking for a challenging role.” Work sold by recruiters as a service to your employer, in that servile, obsequious way, where “you should be grateful to have a job” or to “join a winning team.”

There is often a dichotomy between your personal skills as a knowledge worker working in your own domain, using your own tools, often in your own space and time and the perceived status of an “employee.” In fact, in most of my most recent jobs the HR mini-mes calling me for interview have little, or any, clue as to my function, capabilities or expertise – merely viewing what I do as “clicking and setting up pages {something any monkey can do – so lets get the cheapest one}.”

I call this “the social sword of Damocles dilemma” – a bit dramatic, but you get the point :).”

Corporate types (“tan snouters – as I call a particularly pungent breed) often want to avoid the “connectivity” of social media, while personally profiting from the free advertising. Being branded as “innovative leader” in the community, sharing in the glory of corporate success and having a panopticon perspective on employee social media habits is fine, but make damn sure that glass ceiling is mirrored on one side.

Some of the points raised here are psycho – social, rooted in classically conditioned human economic class structure. Consider school and educational realms, where dominant “teachers” lecture from platforms to seated “learners.” In classrooms, dominance of ideas, posture, group dynamics, acculturation and coercive practices are well studied and understood. The same ideas can be traced in organizational psychology, military literature, motivational speaking tours, advertising, or any ten cent religious tome. 

In my school years though, leisure (as physical exercise) was not considered the anathema of work, rather it was a vital component of a full and vibrant education and a necessary aspect of growing up for young people – not quite the same today.

I see my own children carry heavy books to school (Ireland, UK and Bulgaria are my reference points here), even though most of the material in those books could easily be transported in a flash drive, or in a portion of the memory of a student’s mobile phone. It seems some elements within the education system want children to carry a “heavy load.”

Where we come to the Rubicon is in the modern concept of globalized work, “always on” internet and “work from home” practice.  Leisure time as a structured part of the working day disappears. Standard employers have always fought against the obligation to pay for leisure, time off, or toilet breaks – which is fine, when the contract is solely for services rendered, I’m ok to piss on the floor and add it to “time and materials.”

The onus for leisure then seems to fall to the individual. Peer pressure, marketing, social controls and “following the money,” dictate that you will always be advised on the best way to perform your work.

Leisure therefore is a form of freedom, an absence of rigidity and control. Maybe this is one of the reasons why my initial forays into digital media were seen as “play?”  When one views leisure as personal freedom, it is quite understandable that a business owner, bent on profit, will not initially understand social media, social selling or connecting online. These are seen as “leisure activities,” for the “human resource” and, as such, outside of work tools, or the work template.

Here is where we come to the central core of the issue. As life, work and leisure become more connected (in multiple senses), due to advances in technology and the changing nature of work, how does leisure time integrate into the work/life balance? 

A traditional 40 hour week does not apply in an online context. Business partners need results 24/7 with 365 days a year coverage.

The rise of “work from home” is inexorable.  Companies understandably utilize the benefits of personal wifi, devices and work space, thereby reducing rents, rates, insurance and utility costs. If you do happen to fall down from overwork, you would potentially call your own doctor from your own phone, in your own (rented) apartment and take your own time off to recover, at no expense to the company – “go team.”

I am interested in leisure and play as a formative part of human experience – or even “down time”, “R&R” or “offline time”. Work and play are more closely related than in the corporate schema – because bean counters only count your health in lost production hours. In the next few years much physical labor will be taken over by machines.  We do not need to be “human machines” or “mobile robots.” What I will say, in mitigation for profit managers, is that it is hard to legislate for leisure time or improved conditions in a globalized, outsourced, work environment.

There are many debates to open in regard to these conceptual issues. For today though, I will leave it as an opening foray.  What I have deduced so far is that leisure is individualized, while the classical view of work often tends to be standardized, institutional and collective. Work, leisure, social status and play are deeply layered social concepts, with different conceptions in different locations. The online world is based on widely dispersed, “loose connections,” tool based knowledge and individual networked connectivity.

Standards of living, personal branding, national borders, transferable skills, the role of education and educational institutions,  work/life balance, virtualization, automation, robotics, health-care and “man as a rational actor,” all intersect in a deeply textured topic. 

I don’t have big answers, but I do know that “leisure” is an unstated crux.

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