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In the current issue of The Atlantic, Judith Shulevitz penned an essay titled “Why You Never See Your Friends Anymore.” The subtitle summary read, “Our unpredictable and overburdened schedules are taking a dire toll on American society.” The heart of her concern is how the “hours in which we work, rest and socialize are becoming ever more desynchronized.”
Days - Days - Holidays - Weeks - Dictates
“Whereas we once shared the same temporal rhythms—five days on, two days off, federal holidays, thank-God-it’s-Friday—our weeks are now shaped by the unpredictable dictates of our employers. Nearly a fifth of Americans hold jobs with nonstandard or variable hours. They may work seasonally, on rotating shifts, or in the gig economy driving for Uber or delivering for Postmates. Meanwhile, more people on the upper end of the pay scale are working long hours. Combine the people who have unpredictable workweeks with those who have prolonged ones, and you get a good third of the American labor force.”
Her concern is the loss of a “blueprint for a shared life.” Families, she maintains, pay the steepest price:
Hours - Mothers—out - Labor - Force - Body
“Erratic hours can push parents—usually mothers—out of the labor force. A body of research suggests that children whose parents work odd or long hours are more likely to evince behavioral or cognitive problems, or be obese. Even parents who can afford nannies or extended day care are hard-pressed to provide thoughtful attention to their kids when work keeps them at their desks well past the dinner hour.”
She even acknowledges its assault on what used to be the one, empty, “sacred” day of the week:
Atmosphere - Repose—the - Family - Dinners - Outings
“I know this dates me, but I’m nostalgic for that atmosphere of repose—the extended family dinners, the spontaneous outings, the neighborly visits. We haven’t completely lost these shared hours, of course. Time-use studies show that weekends continue to allow more socializing, civic activity and religious...
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May you always have love to share, health to spare, and friends that care