“Forget the balance, this is the merge”

by Toby Manhire / 17 January, 2013
The work-life balance is dead. Long live the work-life merge.
Work-life balance is, like, so last century.

These days, it’s all about work-life merge.

The term first appears in print in a book provocatively titled The End Of Men, in which Hanna Roisin talks to female executives in Silicon Valley.

Roisin writes:

As Emily White, a Facebook executive, put it to me, “Forget the balance, this is the merge”, meaning that work and play and kids and sleep are all jumbled up in the same 24-hour period. (White came up with this term after she finally managed a night out alone with her husband, and they spent half the dinner staring at their iPhones.)


The term – which applied to plenty of men as well as women – captures the idea a life in which “work and free time are no longer neatly compartmentalised but seamlessly jumbled up together”, adds Gaby Hinsliff in the Guardian.

Where the “balance” implies an idea of work and life as “conflicting opposites”, the merge is embraced, for better or worse, by those for whom work and life happen almost simultaneously.

The chief catalyst for the merge – the “seamless blurring of private and public life” - is, of course, technology.

“Now, work messages jostle with private ones in every inbox, professional contacts become indistinguishable from friends on Facebook, and every work-related search brings up endless other clickbait,” writes Hinsliff, a former political editor for the Observer.

“Is surfing Twitter work, if you're ostensibly checking for breaking news – or play, given you inevitably become sucked into conversation?”

That is only amplified by the “tough new economic reality, which means those torn between work and home life often can't afford to reduce their hours: so the emphasis is on reinventing the time we have”.

The work-life merge is not, of course, available to everyone.

It's not easy for anyone whose job requires fixed physical presence, from binman to brain surgeon. And mingling work and play can be downright miserable for anyone who hates their job, and lives for the moment they can leave it all behind.


Hinsliff concludes:

But at least the occasional chaos of the merge feels more achievable than the smug triumphalism of "having it all" – and far less retrograde than throwing in the towel. Better merged than submerged, perhaps, drowned beneath the weight of guilt and impossible expectations.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Artist Judy Millar creates a show-stopper at Auckland Art Gallery
77134 2017-07-28 08:53:07Z Arts

Artist Judy Millar creates a show-stopper at Auckl…

by India Hendrikse

A brand-new, puzzle-like artwork by Judy Millar at Auckland Art Gallery exuberantly fills a tough space.

Read more
Cat control and 'barking consultants': Is the council coming after your pet?
76916 2017-07-28 00:00:00Z Politics

Cat control and 'barking consultants': Is the coun…

by Bill Ralston

Councils must be barking mad to be considering spending millions more controlling cats and silencing dogs.

Read more
Filmmaker Raoul Peck: Karl Marx, James Baldwin and me
76930 2017-07-28 00:00:00Z Movies

Filmmaker Raoul Peck: Karl Marx, James Baldwin and…

by Helen Barlow

A film-maker focuses on two thinkers who questioned the social order of their day.

Read more
PayWave's great, but we're light years behind China's payment methods
76945 2017-07-28 00:00:00Z Technology

PayWave's great, but we're light years behind Chin…

by Sophie Boot

New Zealand is in the dark ages compared with China’s electronic payment methods and we need to upgrade if we want more of that country’s business.

Read more
Ain’t No Taco: Symonds Street gets a new taqueria with a twist
77130 2017-07-27 14:58:01Z Auckland Eats

Ain’t No Taco: Symonds Street gets a new taqueria …

by Kate Richards

Peter Barton, co-owner of Burger Geek, opens a taqueria a few doors down the road

Read more
Synthetic cannabis: The killer high
77113 2017-07-27 11:56:15Z Social issues

Synthetic cannabis: The killer high

by Susan Strongman

There have been eight deaths related to synthetic cannabis in just over a month. People know it's killing them. So why are they smoking it?

Read more
Winston Peters criticises use of te reo in Parliament
77102 2017-07-27 10:34:33Z Politics

Winston Peters criticises use of te reo in Parliam…

by RNZ

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has criticised Te Ururoa Flavell for using te reo Māori in Parliament during question time.

Read more
NZ has done 'horrific job' protecting most vulnerable - commissioner
77095 2017-07-27 10:06:22Z Social issues

NZ has done 'horrific job' protecting most vulnera…

by Emile Donovan

Abuse of intellectually disabled people in state care over five decades has been brought to light in a new report by the Human Rights Commission.

Read more