Monday morning, and back to the office. A timely article from the Guardian:
It’s quite a complex and interwoven opinion piece, and it’s not easy reading in it’s projections, either. The ‘right to disconnect’ is judged to be “misleading at best”, on several grounds. First, it will come at a cost – to those who disconnect – in higher premiums and as markets monetise disconnection itself. Second, we are producing data in our seemingly leisure uses, e.g. in social media use, and we can’t so easily disconnect from that – the article raises some sharp assessments as to how ‘enslaved’ we might be to social media. Third, significant employment sectors, aka the ‘gig economy’, engendered by digital connection, effectively and structurally disallow connection for those dependent on such work.
The article ends thus:
“To be truly meaningful, the right to disconnect needs to be tied to a much broader, radical vision of how a data-rich society can retain some basic elements of equality and justice. In the absence of such a vision, this right will only protect those who are already well-off, forcing the rest to seek solutions – like mindfulness apps – in the marketplace.”
How big a vision, how radical a vision, how broad a vision, and where on earth is it? Over the weekend, I dipped back into the agrarian essays of Wendall Berry (on paper, too; such are the joys of disconnecting). A million miles from the gig economy. For Berry, the size of the economy thus needed is nothing less than the kingdom of God. (Here is an online version of what I read on paper: the opening lines make Berry’s point.) It would be complex, and costly, and might mean selling all else for the pearl of great price. But perhaps a lone and possibly strange voice from a Kentucky hillside has something useful to say to us. If only we could disconnect and listen…