Sunday, March 07, 2010

On Having Fun after Work

Hey white collar worker, what do you do for fun?

The foremost looked-forward-to fun for corporate workers - at all the firms I have worked till date - involves abuse of the body.


There must be a reason for this, and the reason is this:

For knowledge workers, during the week, the body is sedate while the mind is stressed, anxious and confused. During the weekend, the aim is to do the opposite: the body is abused in immersive and addictive fun, while the mind is thereby sedated.

What this does to health, both mental and physical, is anybody's guess.

Drinking, staying up till early hours of the morning, eating junk food, listening to and dancing to remixed bass-heavy loud music in a dark dingy expensive place (called a nightclub), smoking (cigarettes, cigars, chemical hookahs), sleeping during the day, ...

Can't they read a book? You must be kidding. The mental capacity has been exhausted during the week. And let us not even start about A.D.D. "I wanna unwind."

On Monday morning, the mind has been somewhat distracted for a while but it has to unpleasantly get back to work, while the body is shaking off the toxins and the effects of over-sleeping or under-sleeping. It's the worst time of the week for most.

Is it any wonder "Monday morning blues" is assuming epidemic proportions?

I can bet you that less than 1% of corporate workers in metro areas go to sleep before 11pm on any given day.

Someone who sleeps early, wakes up early, has a glass of milk (!) at breakfast, doesn't go to nightclubs, reads books, is soon an outcast, is not "fun" to be with. There is peer pressure to drink, to smoke, to stay up late, to dress nattily at a party and shake a leg at the remixed bass-heavy music. How many times will you say "No"? Do this a few times and you will not be welcome. And after a while, you as well wouldn't like to be known as a party pooper.

So two distinct groups are formed in white collar setups: the conservatives, and the "party hard" types. They usually don't mix much. The conservatives celebrate birthdays and anniversaries by cutting cakes, signing greeting cards, going to mainstream film screenings; whereas the "party hard" types are looking for happy hours, ladies' nights, free booze, drugs, places to crash, ...

Given that most knowledge workers don't stay with their families, there is little oversight of this self-abuse. I think parents would be concerned if they knew that their sensible son whom they wax eloquent about to their neighbors was puking on the dance floor and that their daughter who is the pride of the family was being groped at by drunk dancers who got into a fight with the bouncers, but they don't know, and nobody tells them.

And I also think this culture of "unwinding" and "hard partying" starts right in college for some, when for the first time they are separated from their families.

What do you think?

6 comments:

srid said...

HARMAN: For knowledge workers, during the week, the body is sedate while the mind is stressed, anxious and confused. During the weekend, the aim is to do the opposite: the body is abused in immersive and addictive fun, while the mind is thereby sedated.

That may be applicable for spending part of the weekend in nightclubs. But consider this -- there are some adults (geeks?) who would sit all day in front of a computer playing online multiplayer games and eat junk food. Here, the body is actually sedated - but the mind is immersed in addictive fun[1].

[1] but it is not fun really; I believe online competitive games are a modern medium for homo sapiens to express their hunting-related instincts (aggression, and so on.) and the secondary feelings (superiority, contempt).

Modern Man said...

Harman,

Great post! I also know many folks (some of my friends included) that spend the majority of their time away from work at home watching TV and drinking or smoking. They rightly criticize the ubiquitous night-life mentioned in your post, but they still abuse their bodies in the same ways (well, maybe they get to bed a little earlier and don't puke as much).

No matter how it is disguised, however, there's very little room left for those seriously interested in authentic friendships or the variety of intellectual progress that doesn't directly serve the pursuit of making money.

-MM

Modern Man said...

Harman,

Great post! I also know many folks (some of my friends included) that spend the majority of their time away from work at home watching TV and drinking or smoking. They rightly criticize the ubiquitous night-life mentioned in your post, but they still abuse their bodies in the same ways (well, maybe they get to bed a little earlier and don't puke as much).

No matter how it is disguised, however, there's very little room left for those seriously interested in authentic friendships or the variety of intellectual progress that doesn't directly serve the pursuit of making money.

-MM

Pankaj said...

theres a certain tribal angle to clubbing you cant deny. once youre in a club, you can help but notice that one derives a very unique pleasure in intoxicating oneself and completely subordinating oneself to the rhymths of the crowd. im sure a ritual we have inherited from our tribal days.

Anonymous said...

No news here: only human nature working in a civilization mode.
Even in tribes around the planet, they sustain some type of scapism too...

nik said...

good post...thoughtful