The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday September 27th

Column: Work is wherever the person is

Wake up. Log on to Zoom for school or work. Do things of necessity to maintain physical and mental health. Go to bed. 

This is how a day in the life during the pandemic can roughly be summed up. We go about our daily lives, but the majority of our time is now spent in our individual homes. Before, we went to work and came back to refresh, but this dynamic has flipped.

Pre-pandemic, home used to be a sanctuary, a safe space. It was a place to unwind and relax away from the troubles of life. Days off and working from home used to be small luxuries, but now, they are not as meaningful. 

Society has been heading this way for a while — the pandemic only sped up the process. All of these changes are not without pros: for example, bothersome business meetings can now be summed down to emails. Working from home makes traveling easier. People have gotten pets, as they now have more time to take care of an animal. Families have been given the opportunity to spend more time together. 

Times like these have caused us to reevaluate who we are, what we are doing and what we want out of life.

However, alongside all of these wonderful things is the fact that we are now seemingly available 24/7. Before COVID-19, society had a more classic capitalistic structure. The various parts of our days, such as home life, academics and work, were more separated.

We are moving away from what Gilles Deleuze, a 20th century French philosopher, called “a society of discipline” and toward “a society of control.” We seemingly have all the freedom in the world, but now that the majority of life happens within our homes, when the boss calls, we better pick up. 

We are always plugged in. 

In the past few months, we’ve seen an accelerated blending of personal life with the professional. Lots of jobs have been cut back to just the necessities, and degrees are being earned from home. 

For students, specifically, academics now bleed into our everyday spaces. I find that I almost feel guilty when I’m doing something other than homework. 

As we’ve acclimated to our new lifestyles, there has been friction as we accumulate to the substantial lack of structure, and a loss of the boundaries between work and home life as they dissolved. 

Society has stripped itself down to the basics of what we needed to function during this time of crisis. The pandemic has shone a light onto the thin thread of tradition that the previous structure was clinging to. 

There are pros and cons to this switch, but where do we draw the line? What needs to be done in order to establish new boundaries? When the pandemic dissipates, what will we be left with? To what extent have our lives have been permanently changed? 

Only time will tell.



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