Boundaries and Digital Communication
Most of the people with whom I spend my days are self- employed, business owners, creators, or makers of some sort. They’ve stepped away from the traditional employment model in search of a kind of freedom where they can design their days and weeks how they please, and generate income by building businesses, disrupting industry, or otherwise meeting a demand of the market in new and creative ways. Whatever the work looks like for them, these are folks who must find, secure, and create it themselves.
As an enthusiastic member of this cohort of disruptors, I find I’m tethered to screens for my livelihood for more hours of the day than not. I interface with lots of different kinds of people every day, but my income is dependent on my sitting at the computer and building websites for clients. What do we do when this inevitably causes a slow erosion of boundaries around digital communication? When work email easily stretches past 11pm and a screen is the first thing we check when we wake up? Certainly this isn’t unique. Whether you are your own boss or you work along to a chain of command, you know what it’s like to feel tied to your phone or laptop. Even as technology has allowed many of us to work remotely, to design our own hours, and to build businesses that fit inside a backpack, we’ve become simultaneously free from the traditional infrastructure of employment and beholden to these tiny devices.
On work days I find myself toggling between my phone and laptop for hours and hours, following up with clients and team members during the time I’m not actively doing client work. This is the nature of work for so many of us. We’re almost all seated, physically oriented in a single direction, mentally stretched across multiple tasks, and energetically ping ponging from item to endless item.
Our brains, which were designed for the rhythm of moon cycles, and our bodies, which evolved to work with the dirt and move across many planes, need time away from these new, strange patterns we’ve created in the Age of the Internet. Creating boundaries around our digital communications is about more than stepping away from the screen, it’s about remembering who we are. It’s about reconnecting to the rhythms and cycles for which our bodies and brains evolved. It’s about reclaiming time in nature, with family, about looking people in the eye.
For the next few days, I’ll be posting resources and thoughts around boundaries in digital communication for folks who depend on digital communication for their livelihood. There are ways to engage with this digital world without losing who we are and how we are meant to function in the natural world. We can disrupt, create, run business, and still honor what makes us human.