The web is slowly killing us, one by one. We are being poisoned everyday, little by little. This career that we love and are so passionate about is toxic.
This is a little dark isn’t it!? Well yes it is, but it is the truth that needs to be voiced.
A career in web seems like a magical, amazing way to earn a living, which it is. But why Jaymie would you say that it is killing us, that it is toxic. Well this is where it gets dark and gloomy.
For someone who is not in our industry, our day to day lives with our work, looks like a dream. Working the hours you want, from wherever you want and for whoever you want.
There are tons of jobs, no shortage at all. Leave your job at 10am, find another one by the afternoon. The industry we are in pays well, the average wage is certain not little. Life is sweet.
Wait a minute, this does not seem toxic does it? Seems like something heavenly for most, a real dream, could it be any cushier?
As builders of the web, we love what we do and for good reason. How could you not be happy with those working conditions!
We can solve problems from anywhere in the world. Solving problems that can affect the lives of millions or even billions of people. I LOVE MY JOB. Hmm not a job if it’s something I love. But this is where it starts to go downhill.
We, as builders of the web, love this job, this lifestyle, so much we devote ourselves to it, spending large amounts of time into our craft. Working full time, sometimes freelancing, sometimes working on side projects or contributing back to the community through open source.
Time creeps away to the point where we spend a bulk of our days and our nights in front of glowing screens. We are tethered, plugged in. Even when we are away from our computers, phones and tablets take their place.
Now I am done with my work, let’s open Twitter, filled with my peers, colleagues and friends who are in the industry. Oh look a new project released, I’ll check that out. Okay it’s time for bed.
Can you see what is happening? This career that we are passionate about, that we love, has quietly consumed us. This toxic career is building up inside of us.
Some of us snap out of this and make sure we get our heads out of the tech and get exercise, remember to eat right and have a social life. But for some this doesn’t happen. Slowly becoming more and more toxic until it hits like a sledge hammer to the face.
One thing that a lot of outsiders see, is someone who sits on a computer and plays around all day. How hard could it be, you are just typing?
A web designer/developers work requires a lot of cognitive effort.
It can be as intensive as manual labour, just without the visible signs… most of the time.
Burnout is one of the biggest outcomes of this toxic manifestation. The mental drain. Mental problems are rampant in our industry, depression, stress, burnout and suicide. Burnout being the primary culprit.
How often have we heard, and at an increasing rate, of our fellow web craftspeople leaving this lifestyle because of burnout and other mental issues?
Prominent people in the community or even just your “average” person. No one is exempt. It targets without any regard. One by one the industry is being infected.
Over the past few years we have seen and heard of notable exits from the web industry, as well as the web in general, gone forever.
Not only just to leave the career/industry behind, but sometimes from life, tragically due to suicide.
This may coincide with the rising rates of mental health issues as a whole, outside of the web, but there seems to be a commonality of burnout. Surprised? You shouldn’t be, even over the past few months, more and more articles have been published about someone’s battles with burnout, the signs to lookout for, how to prevent burnout and how to get back from burnout.
Not convinced? Think I am talking utter nonsense? Have a quick google around, you will be shocked to find the amount of articles. Funnily enough, as I run through this article for the second time, yet another blog post has been published on managing burnout, Smashing Magazine titles it “Dealing With Loud and Silent Burnout”
Burnout alone, besides the other mental health issues, usually can’t be seen by the person who is being wrapped up and strangled by it. We need to be aware and ask, are you ok?
Let’s check ourselves and others regularly to make sure we are healthy mentally and physically. Being physically healthy is proven to reduce mental health issues.
I myself, have and continue to battle with various stages of Burnout. I know the pain, I know the challenges and I know what I need to do. But when you have burnt out, the way out seems such an impossible feet.
Like climbing Mt Everest when you are on your last legs.
Focusing on what matters, living a balanced life, this is what we should be aiming for and being diligent about.
We should not be living to work. That is what happens when we are not living a balanced life, it becomes work and hard work at that, turning it into a grind.
What can we do? This is something I am not completely sure of, and the answers may differ, but I believe it will take our entire community. We need to not only focus on ourselves but also lookout for our colleagues, friends, family and peers.
This is the important and the required change starts with you, the freelancer, the product manager, the business owner.
But why? This is all about living a balanced life.
With a balanced life, your life as a whole improves, mental and physical.
It is the key for longevity in this career that we love.
So what now? This is my call to arms, it starts here and it starts with you. Yes you! You can make such a huge impact on not only your own life but the others around you and in our beloved web industry.
Check yourself first, are you eating well, are you keeping fit, are you sleeping long and well enough. Are switching off? Just pull the plug! Get up and off the computer, off your phone, go for a walk, drink some more water.
You can make the changes right now, very easily, even with the smallest of changes. How often do you take a break from your computer? Think about that. Be diligent about where the majority of your time is being focused.
Got that sorted? Good, now, look to your friends, family, colleagues and peers, help them pull the plug, cut the cord and live a balanced life.
Here is a quick easy win, say you are in the office, it is lunch time, you see a friend or colleague eating lunch at their computer, ask them to come outside and have lunch with you, or go to a table away from their computer.
It only takes a small step to create change, a ripple, it will spread.
Without a balanced life, this career you love, will come crashing down and you won’t notice until it is to late. Let’s start now and make a change for us and for the future web artisans.