The American Dream?


I’ve stated previously that the old ways of doing things will be forced to change due to the Internet.

As a result of watching the Internet’s role in our lives I would like to suggest that it is time for us to change the hours of when we do business.

The generation before the Internet’s rise and reign were held to a different set of social rules that no longer apply to us as the millennial generation. The Internet has given us an incredible advantage. We have been given the opportunity for a better quality of life, but we must play our cards right.

Reflect with me on a ‘Pre-Internet’ model:

After a long day of work/class one might socialize with friends, play outside, or run some errands. Knowing it would soon get dark, having grown up with the household rule: “be home before the streetlights come on”, one decides to head home. Upon reaching home you take care of various household responsibilities such as homework, house chores, etc.  After eating dinner, you may choose to watch a little television, read a book, call a friend, or whatever relaxes you. Most of your friends weren’t around and your connection to the rest of the world pretty much ended when you got home. The obvious next step was to prepare for sleep.

A lifestyle that revolved around work both inside and outside of the home as a means to achieve happiness. Enjoyment of that happiness, i.e. family/friends came first and accomplishments come secondary.

On average you would find yourself in bed by 11pm giving you plenty of time to get several hours of restful sleep. You could wake up at about 7 am (which gave you 8 hours), complete your morning rituals and still make it to work by 9am.

When we added the Internet to the equation, things got a little skewed.

Now you get out of work/class and still have the same responsibilities you would have in the ‘Pre-Internet’ model, but now you can get online and access friends, family, and entertainment at the click of a button. You can do “important” things instantly, such as checking and reading world-news, responding to email’s, video-calling a relative, shopping; the list goes on. Suddenly you realize you’ve been glued to this screen for 2 maybe even 4 hours.

It goes without saying how much of your afternoon and evening can be consumed by Internet use. Not to mention the texting you can find yourself doing while you’re laying in bed waiting for sleep to fall upon you.  Now, you fall asleep between 1 or 2 am, but still need to wake up at 7 am to complete your morning rituals. Rather than getting 8 hours of sleep, you only get 5.

In this model your connection to the outside world doesn’t end when you get home, it actually is just beginning.

A Day in the Internet

A Day in the Internet

Despite our giant strides in technology, there is something that hasn’t changed– business hours.

Some time ago, Corporate America decided to run business between the hours of 9am to 5 pm. These hours were chosen for ‘Pre-Internet’ generation. The Internet has caused an absolute paradigm shift in our lives, and the expiration date for these arbitrarily chosen hours has passed.

This shift in waking hours has caused an increase in various workloads, without an increase in the allotted time for task completion. Many workers and students are restless and stressed due to sleep deprivation. Though this great tool makes meeting vigorous deadlines and completing excessive amounts of work possible, the humans carrying out these tasks are not able to perform at optimal levels.

Most people don’t see that they have options beyond what society tells them to do. That’s the biggest problem. They honestly believe that compliance is the shortcut to success.

Seth Godin

Companies and governments have constantly tried to lord over the public, whether it has been through restriction, distractions, or being over-worked. The American dream now includes working until Corporate America has wrung out every last bit of work week it could get from you. If you’re lucky and don’t die from that, you’re rewarded a couple years of retirement with the better years of your life behind you.

But in spite of such exploitation, the Internet has been a great way to say “screw you” to the powers that be. Today’s social movements for justice and rights are more effective than ever before.


My suggestion?

It’s time for Corporate America to rethink the rethink the days and hours it chooses to do business.

Of course, there is a level of responsibility on the individual: you should be able to discern how much time on Facebook is reasonable. But the matter of the fact is that the Internet has proven its dominance and it isn’t going anywhere. There is too much evidence proving that human beings love to use it.

Business hours should be designed to work around humans and not the other way around.

First Alternative:

Change business hours to 11-7 or 10-6.

Same amount of time spent at work, but the day starts later. This way if you don’t find yourself asleep until 1am you can wake up at 8 and still get 7 hours of sleep.

Of course, we must consider– what repercussions changing the business hours will have on us?

What if humans just alter their sleep schedule around the new business hours, in the same way they have before and end up getting just as much sleep? These are viable concerns, unfortunately there is no way to know, and all we can do is speculate. But I think we should do what is best for us right now and cross future roads when we get there.

Most people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty.

Timothy Ferriss

Second Alternative;

Shrink the business hours: Go from 10-5 or even 12-5.

The Internet has made it possible so that we can be more efficient than ever before. Time spent on certain tasks has decreased exponentially (communicating, market researching, advertising). Some argue that we should take advantage of this extra time and be even more productive. But where does it stop?

I would argue that instead we should allow technology to do what it was designed to do, simplify our lives. Rather than using this time to do more business, we should spend this time doing things that are actually important to us. Things like spending time with our families & friends, learning things we’ve always wanted to do, or doing things we’ve always wanted to try.

We have always wanted a true pursuit of happiness. The American Dream became more obsessed with the endless pursuit than the attainable happiness. The Internet has made this pursuit stronger and more efficient, but has inhibited the enjoyment of our happiness. We must stop throwing away what we truly consider important, and come to realize that the American hustle is overrated.

John Schmitt, Senior Economist and Co-author of the Report above claims, “The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation days and paid holidays,”

John Schmitt, Senior Economist and Co-author of the Report above claims, “The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation days and paid holidays,”

When Henry Ford made the assembly line production became easier, but instead of taking the opportunity to enrich our lives, we let greed set in and added more workers.

When Eli Whitney made the cotton gin it allowed for much greater productivity than manual cotton separation, but greed told us we needed more cotton than the cotton gin alone produced.

And to what avail? We are trying to be productive, only to be more productive.

By working faithfully 8 hours a day, you may eventually get to be boss and work 12 hours a day.

Robert Frost

With the Internet, work is done more efficiently, which should mean less work hours, which would lead to happier workers that are working smarter, not harder. Now that less time is needed to accomplish jobs, this should turn into more vacation time/more time at home, which leads to happier workers.

There is a reoccurring trend when it comes to new advancements in technology. Instead of using these technologies to alleviate our stresses, we have allowed corporations to take our best chances for freedom to further oppress us in this capitalistic lifestyle. At some point we have to stop chasing our tails, break the cycle, and move forward.

The Internet is providing a way out, and we should seize the moment.