The philosopher Wittgenstein would escape from the demands of his profession by going to the movies and watching Westerns from the front row. Today, as is well known, such downtime is harder to achieve. As Matt Galligan commented in an article on Medium, “When mobile phones untethered us from our computers, we were thrown into the deep end of an always on, always reachable working world.”
Yet while technology has made distance from work a near pipe dream, it also carries the promise of artificially enforcing that distance. In an effort to get people thinking proactively about their privacy and their time, Galligan speculatively mocks-up adjustable Business Hours for the office messaging tool Slack, as well as a Do Not Disturb function—the latter of which, incidentally, Slack soon added.
But whether these kinds of availability-managers will succeed in giving us the distance we’re after—one’s work life occupying mental, emotional, and social dimensions far broader than can be contained by any one platform—remains to be seen.