The Awl, a New York-based Web site with the motto, “Be Less Stupid,” published a brilliant blog entry by Josh Duboff, The Night Blogger Blogs Alone. I’m going to quote from it, but I definitely recommend reading the entire piece.
Duboff talks about how lonely you feel and how little human contact you enjoy while blogging. I’ve never had a night blogging job, but even working from home during the day, many of the observations he made hold true for myself, as well. And, starting Monday, I will be taking on a new assignment for my existing blogging job, which will involve being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed while sitting at my PC at 6 a.m. every weekday. While 6 a.m. may not be as lonely as the middle of the night, I doubt I’ll have any company. Not only will none of my friends be online, but even the cats will be asleep.
He writes about going hours without actually speaking out loud, which isn’t a problem for me with three cats either trying to kill each other or objects in the apartment. Duboff added:
As is so often the case, this blogging took place at the desk mere feet from my bed, meaning that as I would blog the night away — fueled primarily by almonds and Diet Coke — the end of the tunnel was always an arm’s length away. The modern isolation of your standard blogging job — the lack of non-virtual people around, the relentless Internet tunneling, the lack of sunshine or regular movement — was multiplied by the lack of even having digitally present coworkers, the darkness outside, the silence.
Substitute Snackwells for almonds and iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts for Diet Coke, and this is a very familiar feeling. Before Facebook and Twitter became mainstream, I always used email from friends as a way to take quick sanity breaks between stories, often leading to snarky responses like, “Do you EVER work?” when, in fact, I was utterly swamped.
During my normal work day, I constantly take breaks to read personal e-mail and check in on what’s happening on Facebook and Twitter. As I said in a blog I posted earlier today, anyone who claims that they don’t do this is full of it. The only way anyone can be 100% focused on work and nothing but work for several consecutive hours is if it’s fueled by the adrenalin of a crucial deadline, or a large sum of money at stake, and even then, sanity breaks help.
But for people who work at night, or, in my case, for people who will be starting before the sun rises, the e-mails, status updates and Tweets are few and far between. And for me personally, one of my favorite diversions will pretty much be rendered useless, as no one will be making any Facebook Scrabble moves at that hour of the day. More from Duboff:
Now that I’m working during the daytime hours again, I feel like I have returned to the land of the living — back in the sea of hyper-stressed, closed-off New Yorkers. While I’m generally happy about this, I have to admit there are certain mornings where I catch myself feeling sort of wistful when the alarm goes off at 7:30 a.m., and feeling sort of ordinary on the subway at 8:25 a.m. I miss the Starbucks barista, Kevin, who would hand me my drink at 6 p.m. every night with the resigned look I imagine he reserved for people who order venti iced coffees past sunset.
I had a freelance job from May-September that required my presence in the office during work hours, dressing like a human being, commuting and all that stuff. I felt a lot of the same things Duboff did, although I’d have to replace Kevin, the Starbucks barista, with Punjab, the Dunkin Donuts clerk. At this particular job, one of the things I missed most was reliable Internet access: Both my PCand the Web connection were horrible, which made me miss the comforts of home that much more.
As I said in my post earlier today, there are plusses and minuses about working from home and, if this relates to you in any way, read Duboff’s post. You won’t be sorry.