The New York Times yesterday published an article about sedentary, overweight tech bloggers literally dying because of their 27/7 work habits. This gave me pause for what I assume are obvious reasons. First, the story:
They work long hours, often to exhaustion. Many are paid by the piece — not garments, but blog posts. This is the digital-era sweatshop. You may know it by a different name: home.
A growing work force of home-office laborers and entrepreneurs, armed with computers and smartphones and wired to the hilt, are toiling under great physical and emotional stress created by the around-the-clock Internet economy that demands a constant stream of news and comment.
Of course, the bloggers can work elsewhere, and they profess a love of the nonstop action and perhaps the chance to create a global media outlet without a major up-front investment. At the same time, some are starting to wonder if something has gone very wrong. In the last few months, two among their ranks have died suddenly.
So. I work at home, and have since the mid-1990s. I've been writing since the early 1990s and blogging, officially, since 2001. (Though arguably a lot of my earlier work at WinInfo could qualify as blogging. Whatever.) I've been trying to lose weight forever, though I'd note that I'm actually pretty darn healthy: I workout with a physical trainer three times a week (since 2005), do machine-based cardio three times a week (20-30 minutes) and play basketball twice a week (2 hours each) between September and May. In the summers, I swim regularly at a nearby pond's beach and up the cardio. I'll be riding a bike to the gym each day beginning as soon as this week if I can find the right bike. (We're coincidentally shopping for one today, actually.)
I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that none of the subjects of this article were/are as active as I am.
That said, it's pretty clear that more than a decade and a half spent sitting in front of a computer hasn't been the healthiest career choice. My hamstrings are almost supernaturally tight, for example, and I'm positive this is from sitting all day long. (Sorry, Herman Miller: The chairs haven't helped.) My wife works in front of a computer as well, and she's been using an exercise ball for a seat for years, which I suspect has helped her back/core but has done nothing for her hamstrings. (Which she, too, claims are tight.) My posture has got to be horrible. It's just gotta be.
So I worry about this stuff. I'm a workaholic, no doubt about it. I have a hard time doing nothing on vacations, and then an even harder time getting back into a work rhythm when I get back, simply because it's such a constant slog. Anyone who derides this story is fooling themselves. This lifestyle isn't healthy. Working around that is very difficult.
Related: Larry Dignan at ZD derides the NYTimes story, in part because he didn't get included in it (which in turn reminds me I wanted to post about this). He says, "Why I didn’t make the cut." I would just sort-of-quote Homer Simpson and say, "Why you didn’t make the cut... yet."