Christopher T. Miller

Context, Substitution, Walls, Boundaries


Our networked culture erases time-honored boundaries and robs us of context. Because of that lack of context, we engage in substitution.

Example: working from home erases the line between home life and work context. We often play a role at work which is not our whole self, it’s a sliver created to do the things which need doing within the culture of the company we work for. The way we are at work is not the usually way we like to be in our own homes.

When trying to work at home after hours or on the weekend, we find it difficult to be both people: the work-person and the home-person. We attempt to bridge the gap with substitution. We substitute affection with brief conversation, meaningful interaction with lists of things to do. Instead of enjoying time with our families, we get stuck in the productivity mindset. Is home about productivity? To produce…what, exactly? For whom? To what end, and who benefits?

We see this playing out across society, especially with knowledge workers. We carry the stress with us. We do not sleep, and we substitute caffeine for restful slumber.

We don’t talk about meaningful things, we substitute budget discussions and status reports for loving interaction.

We find ourselves depressed by the delta between what we want to be doing to give our lives meaning and what the company demands from us as a human resource. That delta fuels the unhappiness the furthers more substitution: chemical euphoria for contentedness, porn for intimacy, competing extremes for balanced life. The walls to we build to try to reclaim our time and mindspace are not healthy boundaries, they are a fortress that keeps others out resulting ins isolation and deep loneliness.

This is a compelling argument for strong boundaries. Boundaries contain and foster context and deny substitution. Boundaries are not walls. They allow us to connect in meaningful ways with ourselves and others while also providing a healthy code by which we can say NO to things which don’t align to our values.

When within your boundaries, there’s no place else you can be. You are present in that moment, free of distraction. You assert yourself and claim your space, your values, your time, your life.

Boundaries are an argument for personhood before productivity.

#simplicity   #values   #boundaries   #contemplation