The Doldrums of Desk Work

“We don’t have a lot of time on this earth. We weren’t meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about mission statements.” – Peter Gibbons, Office Space

Over the years advances in technology and society have enabled us to move from a predominantly labor based economy to one that relies less on our sweat and more on our mental capacities. Sure, there are still plenty of labor intensive jobs for those more inclined to that sort of thing, but many jobs, especially those in the cities, are focused less on how much you can lift and more on how many words per minute you can type. While this has the benefit of saving many of us from the dangers and physical ailments that come with toiling out in a field from dusk till dawn, the mental distress it can cause is just as problematic. The question is, why are these seemingly harmless jobs wrought with so much peril?

Too much monotony is a bad thing. Every job has the potential for mindless repetition, but as jobs become more focused on the mental aspect, that danger has become even more prevalent. Many of us deal with this unpleasantness by learning to do our jobs on autopilot. While this allows many of us to escape the boredom we feel at work, it has the potential to not only hurt efficiency and productivity, but to lead to bigger mistakes like falling asleep on the job. Even if one manages to avoid the sweet temptations of  a good nap, its probably not good for our psyche to spend the largest waking moments of our day in a zombie like state with little connection to the outside world.

The mental drain we feel after a long day behind the desk does nothing for our physical fitness. Anyone who has ever worked behind a desk has experienced this at some point in their lives. After a draining day at work followed by a commute in annoying traffic, the last thing we want to do is embark on any amount of physical activity. This is just fine for those who spend their time on the job doing moderate to heavy physical activity. However, for those of us who barely move all day, it probably isn’t the healthiest idea to come home and sit in front of the television. Yet, because of the mental drain we feel completely unmotivated to hit the gym, go for a run, or engage in anything that resembles intense exercise. Which is sad considering we spend so much time inside already.

We lose our vital connection to nature and the outdoors. This is bad for a number of reasons. Anyone who has spent a weekend camping in the wilderness or biking around a lake will tell you how refreshing it is. However, because we spend so much of our energy working indoors with little connection to what’s going on outside, we lack the drive to enjoy this. When one loses their connection to the world around them they are far more likely to support policies and positions that do grievous harm to the planet. Not only is spending so much time inside mentally taxing for an individual, but it has negative consequences on the world as a whole.

Does this mean we should all quit our desk jobs and become farmers? Not quite. These jobs exist for a reason and each contribute to our world in their own unique ways. What we can do is be cognizant of the effects the mental stress can have on our well-being. It is important we make the effort to avoid tuning out and letting the world pass us by. Starting by overcoming our urge to waste our post-work freedom sitting on the couch and embracing a little fresh air and recreation.

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