Thursday, 16 April 2009

Fake Intimacy

It seems plausible to say that most human beings spend most of their waking hours outside their homes. Although those individuals might have romantic partners and a kid or two, a typical working day involves spending more time in the company of colleagues than with one's family. As people work together, it is quite inevitable that they will learn more about one another; personal beliefs, past experiences, and hobbies often end up being disclosed to a person's work buddies relatively quickly. Furthermore, as more people make use of Internet social networks, it becomes far easier to discover certain things about one's colleagues.

Spending several hours a day, week after week, month after month with a number of individuals could make one believe that such time could allow various friendships to develop. In this way, the workplace could be regarded as an excellent place to make friends. And even though I am quite sure that some wonderful friendships owe their origins to a work setting, my experiences have led me to believe that most jobs give rise to a fake intimacy between the employees. Some might accuse me of being too negative by using such a heavy term, but I will shed some more light on this phenomenon to show how real it is.

Whilst we are at work, we frequently have to collaborate with certain individuals, regardless of whether we want to or not. As this happens, colleagues tend to open up with each other; they talk about the movies they have watched, the books they read, the latest piece of furniture they bought, and so on. As personal information is exchanged, a certain bond might be created, but the strength of this bond often appears to be similar to the strength of a house of cards.

It is frequently said that hard times help to test a friendship. Thus, if a person is very ill at home, they would probably hope that their friendly colleagues at work would send a message or call to ensure that everything is fine. If there is a problem that is causing a great deal of stress, they are very likely to hope that the closest colleagues would attempt to provide some type of help.

Sadly, it seems that most work-related "friendships" are little more than forced and convenient relationships that are brushed aside and forgotten quite easily once a person moves to a new job or even a new department. Having said this, it is possible to understand how lost many people feel once they retire; after years spent working with other individuals, some of whom were probably regarded as "good friends", it must feel horrible to retire and to suddenly realise that those "friends" never bother to meet up, to call, or to simply continue forming a part of one's life.

The fake intimacy that seems to be characteristic of so many workplaces becomes extremely noticeable when an employee suggests organising a social event. All sorts of excuses start cropping up and the event often ends up being scrapped or is attended by only a handful of individuals.

With all the talk about team-work in countless employment settings, it is surprising to notice that even though individuals frequently team up to work on a project, all the care and attention that is seen within the team frequently seems to evaporate once the project is completed. Consequently, it appears possible to argue that whereas many people do not hesitate to bond with each other in order to make their employers richer, it appears that they do not find it equally easy to take a strong and enduring interest in the welfare of their colleagues.

Considering that we spend only a fraction of our time during the week with our family and with other loved ones, it would be so nice to see a different type of workplace. It would be so nice to witness a setting which encourages people to truly care about one another. It would be great to see more genuine intimacy.


La Delirante said...

I think that colleagues are colleagues and that's it. It's very unlikely (though not impossible) to make real friends at work.

The relationship between colleagues can be pleasant: sharing ideas, laughs, lunches but it is all kind of out of convenience (to make work life more bearable you adapt) and/or because oh well, it's just natural after spending so many hours at the same place.

When people go their separate ways or office politics come along then things might change. They usually do.

I think I go to work to do my own thing and I mind my own business. I don't like gossip or idle talk. I like to know things but that's information :) and again, part of office politics. Information is power.

Anyway, am off the topic with the paragraph above...kind of. The point is: don't have high expectations in terms of deep friendships when it comes to colleagues. Most likely you will be disappointed. Plus, good friends are good but a lifetime.

Anonymous said...

Your wishes are naive and frankly? Pathetic.

Most of the people I work with (not all, just most) are people I wouldn't normally choose to interact with.

They're racist, homophobic, gossipy dumb asses. They contribute absolutely nothing to society.

But they're like family members ~ you're kind of stuck with them, so you find yourself having to make the best of it.

I'm pleasant but professional at work. I make it pretty clear that I'm not everybodys "friend". I'm there to do a job and I do it, and I do it well.

I don't get involved in the inevitable drama or gossip. I don't take sides. That's not what I'm paid to do.

Red said...

Anonymous: I think that if one is going to spend more time with work colleagues than with family members/friends, it is only logical to yearn for a more pleasant working environment. The notion that work is all about doing what one is paid to do and nothing more leads to a scenario whereby people are like robots with only one purpose - earning money. I believe that there should be more to work than just shutting oneself away from everybody else to earn what is usually a meagre salary compared to what countless business owners receive on a monthly basis.