Our addiction to technology is the enemy, not technology
By Emma Teitel
Despite a reputation for standoffishness [being unfriendly] (especially with tourists) the French have invented some of the most important mass communication tools in human history. These include the papermaking machine, the Bic Cristal ballpoint pen (who doesn’t have one of those?), and the bane [curse] of high school principals everywhere: the mobile software that enables us to share photos on our cellphones en masse [all together], i.e. the DNA of the nude selfie.
This history is interesting and odd, because at this very moment France is not in the business of building on the tools of mass communication; it’s in the business of restricting them.
I’m referring to the country’s new “right to disconnect law” that went into effect on New Year’s Day (along with a series of other labour-related regulations): a law that makes it illegal for employers to intrude [cut-in] on employees’ private time via email after working hours.
More specifically, the law requires that companies with 50 or more staff members work with unions and employees to devise a policy that prevents the intrusion [interruption] of office emails into workers’ leisure time. The “Right to Disconnect” policy comes on the heels of a French study about the scourge [torture] of so-called “info-obesity”: the suffering health of French workers who are constantly connected to their emails outside working hours. Curtail [limit] that connection, argues French Labour Minister Myriam El Khomri, and everybody — bosses and charges alike — will be better off.
So it goes that the nation that invented the software that keeps Kim Kardashian’s selfie empire afloat has taken a vow of technological temperance [self-control].
The question now for those of us who live outside of that nation is should we follow suit? Should we do as the French do, and demand: “No longer will our vacations be cut short by uncharitable [unkind] bosses who refuse to respect the authority of our Out of Office auto-replies?” Our answer, judging by fawning [praising] headlines and editorials heralding [supporting] the right to disconnect, is a resounding yes. As a rule, liberal North Americans love to heap praise on progressive European social policy, and it appears this case is no exception.
And why should it be? The law, after all, is a step in the right direction toward reviving [sharpening] the fast fading line between work and play (a line that is likely to go extinct [be destroyed] without government intervention.)
But unfortunately, the law is also a Band-Aid solution [temporary solution] to a much deeper problem. Excessive emailing isn’t the prime enemy of leisure time in the modern work world. We are the enemy. That is, our addiction to technology is the enemy.
It’s an addiction that motivates 87 per cent of U.S. workers, according to an American survey from 2015, to check their emails outside work hours everyday, and provokes the average smartphone user, according to a study from 2013, to check Facebook 14 times a day. It’s an addiction, according to another study, from the U.K., that triggers university students who are separated from their technology for 24 hours to suffer withdrawal symptoms similar to those exhibited [shown] by heavy cigarette smokers.
It’s an addiction, in other words, that cannot be legislated away, because its pervasiveness is as much the fault of Internet-obsessed employees as it is inconsiderate [uncaring] bosses. (I check my email almost every day when I am on vacation not because I think my employer is emailing me, but because I am addicted to my phone.)
In fact, one could argue that a prohibition [ban] against after-hours emailing is almost useless if it doesn’t address the job pressures exacerbated [made worse] by social media. Email, after all, is only one of many online communication tools available to employers. If you happen to work in public relations, or advertising, the line between personal and professional is often even blurrier [more unclear]; many people in these fields are required to post content to social media on behalf of their organizations — a duty that never sleeps and is rife [loaded] with personal risk. Make a mistake in a rush, and your career and reputation could be in the gutter.
If your job involves social media — and even if it doesn’t — it isn’t unlikely that you follow your bosses and colleagues on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. If this is the case, so long as you are logged onto to one of those platforms you are effectively never out of reach of your employer.
The truth, then, is that the disappearing line between work and leisure time cannot be restored by legislation alone. It will be restored only if — in addition to the passage of progressive labour laws — we decide to commit to the deeply personal work required to kick any powerful addiction.
Teitel, E. (2017, January 6). Our addiction to technology is the enemy, not technology. Toronto Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2017/01/06/our-addiction-to-technology-is-the-enemy-not- technology-teitel.html
This essay assignment is in response to the reading “Our addiction to technology is the enemy, not technology” by Emma Teitel.
Write a PRELIMINARY ESSAY to develop ONE of the topics below.
• write a 1-2 sentence thesis statement with 3 points
• write 3 body paragraphs approximately 5-8 sentences in length
• include a topic sentence and supporting details in each body paragraph
• include transitional words linking ideas
• write a conclusion sentence restating the thesis in 1-2 sentences
• refer to two ideas from the reading in your own words to help support your viewpoint
• acknowledge the author and/or source for each of the two ideas, for example, In the reading, Teitel points out …, According to the reading,
• double- space your work
• proofread your work before you hand in your test
• your writing will be assessed on organization, development, grammar, and writing mechanics (marking rubric attached)
• brainstorm for ideas
• prepare an outline
• proofread your essay
Topics: Choose anyone from below.
1. Based on your own ideas and experience, discuss three reasons for supporting a policy that would prevent offices from sending workers emails after working hours. Refer to two ideas from “Our addiction to technology is the enemy, not technology” to support your viewpoint.
2. The article suggests that in some cases employees may check work emails after hours because they are Internet-obsessed and not because their bosses are inconsiderate or uncaring. Based on your own ideas and experience, discuss three reasons why it may be difficult for employees to separate themselves from work-related emails. Refer to two ideas from “Our addiction to technology is the enemy, not technology” to support your viewpoint.
3. Based on your own ideas and experience, discuss three reasons why a national policy that prevents offices from sending workers emails after working hours would create problems in the workplace. Refer to two ideas from “Our addiction to technology is the enemy, not technology” to support your viewpoint.
Such a cheap price for your free time and healthy sleep
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