“I find you offensive for finding me offensive”- Eminem
Yes, I just quoted lyrics of the great rapper Eminem in relation to “liquid labour”. Here’s why…
It always seems so absurd to me when older people criticise Gen Y for “being on the computer too much” or get offended at the sight of people “glued to their phones”. I could be biased, I could be ignorant, but I could also be a product of the “liquid modern society”.
Deuze (2006) defined a liquid modern society as “one where uncertainty, flux, change, conflict, and revolution are the permanent conditions of everyday life” due to the convergence of production of consumption. Put simply, our work and social lives have become intertwined and now merged; borders have been obliterated resulting in the invasion of personal spaces (Mitew, 2014).
What this means is that it is almost impossible for Gen Y, and other people studying/entering the workforce to stay off their screens. Deuze also observed that a liquid modern society is evidenced through our “constant and concurrent immersion in media”. We can no longer simply “switch off” from our work lives when we get home.
The concept of transitioning from industrial production to knowledge production that Mitew (2014) spoke of in this week’s lecture was expanded on in Bradwell & Reeves’ (2008) article, where they stated the new labour market and technologies have put social networks “at the heart of organisational thinking.” For Gen Y, not only is social networking a way of the future in both work and leisure, but it is also a prerequisite and skillset required for obtaining and sustaining employment in many industries now and in the future.
Just as Kelly predicted in 1999, the new economy is all communication-based. “Communication is the foundation of society, of our culture, of our humanity, of our own individual identity, and of all economic systems.” Similarly, Deuze alluded to Hardt & Negri (2001) who discovered that “the anthrolopology of cyberspace is really a recognition of the new human condition.”
So, there you have it. The convergence of social life and work has resulted in a new human condition where it is –almost- only natural that we are on our screens 25/8. For work, uni or leisure, communicating is essential. Communicating via the Internet also means there are no restrictions with time and space- so it is actually totally normal for us to get a text message at midnight from our manager asking us to work the next morning. Or to receive a Facebook message from your boss enquiring about work-related topics while you’re out on a date. And naturally, we will reply. Always. Why? Well why not? Not only is it easy and efficient, but it is expected. We are expected to have an Internet connection on us at all times, and it’s netiquette to reply ASAP. Sorry people, but social networking waits for nobody. The instantaneity and ease granted with social networking makes this all possible.
This may be difficult for some people to grasp (read: older generations), because the idea of working outside of work, or being paid to tweet/Facebook/social network in general, is just absurd, right? Wrong. Producing immaterial ‘things’ in labour does not necessarily mean that they are not ‘real’, because after all, information is power (Mitew, 2014). So please, mind your own business while we’re trying to mind ours. Yes, on a screen. Yes, at 8pm while we are at the gym/shopping/working/in class/with friends.
Bradwell, P., and Reeves, R. (2008) Economies. In Networked Citizens (pp. 25-31)
Deuze, M. (2006) ‘Liquid Life, Convergence Culture, and Media Work’