30 Mar “Social Jet Lag” LOL.
Recently, there was an unironic article on LinkedIn titled, “Do you have social jet lag?” You can find it here: https://www.linkedin.com/news/story/do-you-have-social-jet-lag-4733401/
In the blurb, editor Ruiqi Chen writes:
“If socializing feels more exhausting now than it did before the pandemic, you’re not alone. With COVID restrictions easing and employees returning to offices, many Americans say they’re experiencing social jet lag, reports The Wall Street Journal. Socialization skills have been eroded by two years of limited interaction, and the planning that goes into get-togethers with friends and coworkers — Should we wear masks? Is everyone OK meeting inside? — can be mentally draining. For those feeling fatigued, experts recommend a gradual ramping up of in-person events, giving your ‘social muscles’ time to rebuild.”
So on one hand, we have Notably co-founder Carly Martinetti giving us a good dose of common sense about why Notably employees will not “come on back to the office.” And on the other, we have an article like this. 🤦♀️
It’s mentally draining now because IT ALWAYS WAS! The emperor is naked. He does not have on clothes and he never did. And now, we cannot go back to the olden times where we all golf-clapped and pretended he was wearing fine garments when he was actually nude.
Now, just to be clear, I’m not saying we should obliterate voluntary, desired socialization. Hang out with friends and family. Spend time with grandma. Make some new memories with your loved ones. But this is not the same thing as sitting in a drab cubicle staring into a computer screen for no good reason. If you’ve successfully been working from home for two years and do not wish to have a commute and sit in a Cube Farm, what sane person could blame you?
Apparently, the LinkedIn article is a spin-off of one that appeared in the Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/theres-still-a-limit-to-how-much-in-person-socializing-many-can-handle-11648170527
You have to subscribe in order to read the article, so alas, I won’t be. However, we can read similar content for free on NPR: https://www.npr.org/2021/04/04/983855924/do-we-even-know-how-to-socialize-anymore
One of the individuals quoted in the article, Danielle Abramson, says:
“I’m anxious over the potential loss of the newfound flexibility in work and life. One of the silver linings of the pandemic was the relief of not having to feel anxious over a declined invitation or expectation to get together because we knew that wasn’t an option.”
Well, Danielle, IMO, you’re right to be worried. Because there are companies out there who’d love to revive Introvert Hell and herd everyone back to an office and start up the forced socialization machine again. Ick. So much yuck.
Fortunately, author Celeste Headlee acknowledges this reality in the article:
“We all have a finite amount of social energy. And it’s important to acknowledge, Headlee says, that the pandemic might have changed that barometer.
‘We have been under such a cognitive load over the past year or so that there just may not be the space for two things in one day,’ she says. It’s also possible the pandemic just revealed the real limits of your social capacity. ‘Two years ago, you may have just not been aware of how exhausted you were,’ Headlee says.”
*Cue Dave from Storage Wars screaming YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPP.*
We put up with it because we thought it was the only option.
Don’t want to starve?
Better show up to that happy hour.
Don’t want to get evicted?
Better stay an extra 10 minutes to avoid the appearance of “rushing out the door” at 5pm.
Since so many office workers have gone remote, as Danielle points out, invitations to Billy Bob’s pool party on Saturday or mandatory Welcome Wagon sessions in the break room went away. And so did the pressure and awkwardness that came with being an introvert in a corporate culture that prizes extroversion and kiss-up behavior.
I don’t think “social jet lag” is the right way of putting it. I think this is more of a revelation, a knowing that all of the forced socializing and hoopla and pantomime of fake smiling to play a role in the office because, as an introvert, you are automatically less desirable than your loud extroverted colleagues, is not necessary anymore.
It always exhausted us and now we have a better barometer to register that exhaustion.