Reality is a Social Construction
I remember sitting in a sociology class and hearing my professor make a statement that just floored me:
"Reality is a social construction."
I thought about that for days and weeks, just mulling it over and trying to wrap my intellect around all that statement entailed. I remember all the questions that it engendered in me.
From that moment on, I could not look at the world the same way. Reality was not something inviolate that existed holy and sanctified, beyond any type of examination. Reality had to be proven, tested and tried before accepted as true.
I often wonder how much of my job is affected by this maxim. Words and images are the creators of this social reality. Call centers thrive on words and the images and symbols they create.
If reality is a social construct, it follows that our own identity as a person is part of this same tainted reality. Who are we outside of the definitions of society?
Maybe its not a good idea to think about such things, maybe it just makes you feel slightly superior to everyone else, yet actually depressed because no one else cares about these things. Then there are other people, who say that the only people that question society's reality are those who can't hack it; who can't live up to society's standards and therefore just whine about it as they get all hopped up on coffee and write depressing poetry in coffee shops. I'm not sure what the answer is, but a world that is never questioned never improves. Many people would rather not ask questions that they can't find the answers to easily. Our culture seems to believe nothing can be taught unless it is in the form of some thirty minute sitcom where we all learn a valuable lesson at the end about love and life, followed by a commercial for McDonalds.
Back to the idea of work. Sure, pondering philosophy is not good for the bottom line. You'll never increase your profits by sitting around discussing reality versus perception, or could you?
It's true enough that there is no profit in pondering imponderables, but there is profit in worker satisfaction. Alienation, depression, and not knowing who you really are after spending eight hours a day hearing voices in your head abuse you can start to whittle down the labor pool after a while, if nothing else your insurance plan will be putting out a lot of money on anti-depressants. Keeping your workers feeling fufilled and happy is profitable.
I wish I knew the correct way to rid all businesses like mine of the loss of individual identity that becomes so entrenched. Probabally the best way to accomplish this, outside of a good EAP,(Employee Assistance Program, counseling sessions provided confidentially and free) is really an attitude check. I think there are some real basic questions to locate whether management is to blame for these feelings, or if they are just challenges in the employee's own mental state.
"How do I see my workers?"
"Are they simply tools to gain profit, or are they partners in something bigger?"
"Do we regularly speak to our employees to locate how they feel about their work?"
"Do employees have a clear understanding of how they are performing, and how they fit in this organization?"
"Does our organization represent any solid values besides simply our own fiscal survival?"
How often we forget that every business, every office, every company is like a living being. All of the people are the cells that define it. If this social organism of a company has no real defined identity, its no wonder that the workers feel lost. Questioning the personality and identity of a corporation is the first step to defining who the workers are and what they stand for.
Thanks for reading,