Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Space Sharing: Herd Animals-Confirmed!

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on February 26, 2013

So, now we have technology which places an office in a pocket. The calendar, the phone, the email and the fax are all being filtered through a hand-held device. Now, I know I am late in the game, but I am coming to understand portability. I could be anywhere in the world and return phone calls, have a phone session, renew prescriptions and stay in touch with the day to day struggles in my local news. So, I think to myself, this brings a new-found freedom of not being tethered to an office. Duh, my readers are saying. Yes, I am slowly coming to understand that, but at the same time, I also understand that young creative types are searching out work spaces which they can share, and yet work independently. The water cooler returns. How do I understand the need for freedom, while there also seems to be a need to gather and work with the energy of other working folks. As with most things that I right about, this is another push/pull experience. There is both a need to break out of the mold and lie on a beach while getting work done, and at the same time, there seems to be a need to be around others, in order to work in parallel. I attribute the latter to the social nature of the human condition. We are the people we surround ourselves with. We compete, we strive, we grow, based on the bar that our friends set for themselves. We are comparative beings. We measure success against others whom we care about. Positive growth stems from surrounding yourself with others who are striving for what you want for yourself. Intuitively, those seeking out a shared work space know that. They will be more creative if they can find the right energy, the right environment, the right people to work alongside. New technology does not change human nature, although it might change some aspects of the human brain. The part of human nature that needs others for growth and development does not change with the smart phone. We are herd animals, after all.

6 Responses to “Space Sharing: Herd Animals-Confirmed!”

  1. Jon said

    As for the new found freedom of a smart phone, welcome to living in a science fictional world. A grand thing about speculative, or science, fiction is to ask the great “what if xxx were different.” Well, with smart phones, things are different. We get to live through this and see what happens.

    Part of what happens is that we see an aspect of the human condition that shows a basic contradiction. We all want to be part of a crowd; we all want to stand out from that crowd. Yes, we are herd animals, but, to some extent, we want to be apart from the herd. The grand experiment continues…

    • Shirah said

      Yes…you articulate this push/pull very well. We want to be special and we want to be part of the group. Is there any wonder why folks get anxious?

  2. Ashana M said

    The downside of this is also that your office also never leaves you. You are never tied to the physical space of the office. But you are tied to the work of your office wherever you go unless you make a deliberate effort to set it aside. Our worlds mesh this way: we play too much at work, and work too much when we should be playing. We seem unable to be content anywhere or fully immersed in where we are. (And this is probably why I remain stubbornly “unsmarted.”)

    But you’re right–as much as we don’t need to work around other people anymore, we still want to. One of the first things I learned in library school about management is that many people now expect their work to meet social needs, and you can ignore that expectation at your peril.

    • I was also stubbornly “unsmarted” for the same reason, but as a recent convert, I think “smarted” works pretty darn well.
      Yes, work does meet social needs, and hence retirement is an issue for some who do not find an adequate substitute. Thanks.

  3. Shelly said

    No, I don’t envy you at all. My Android phone is constantly with me and I hear and see when my work e-mail pings me, even at 2 am. However I am not plagued by patient calls, FAXes, prescription requests and the like. I wanted to return to a sentence in your blog: “We are comparative beings. We measure success against others whom we care about.” Do we, really? Not all of us. Some of us hate the competitive nature of the work force, for if someone is “up,” someone else must be “down.” As you say, we are herd animals. As Rodney King said, “Can’t we all get along?” What’s wrong with everyone being equal? What’s wrong with everyone helping everyone? Why the competition and the competitive nature? What is the need? It can’t be a Darwinian development, can it?

    • Yes, it can be Darwinian, as you say. Competition makes us strive. Marathons are fun because we are racing against others and against ourself at the same time. Competition can be hurtful, as you describe, but as with so many things, one has to use human nature’s desire to compete in a way which creates strength and not diminishes others. I know that this is a fine line, but it can be done. When we succeed in one area, we also know that we cannot succeed in other areas, and hence we appreciate what others have that we do not. As such, competition helps us understand our own strengths and weaknesses, along with helping us have a sense of awe for what others can accomplish. Thanks.

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