I'm sure I'm not alone in this affliction. There are probably millions of abandoned blogs out there, started by people who were passionate about a cause or an interest or a business and then somehow lost steam.
Why do we do that to ourselves? We were once so convinced that what we had to say mattered, then our motivation slowly dissipates, until it eventually dies. I've noticed the same is true when it comes to issues such as family-friendly workplaces. I think most of us would agree that workplaces need to do more to help their workers balance their lives. But so few of us are actively working to make it happen. Here are a few reasons why we sometimes don't care enough:
1. We get tired. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to remain committed to a cause, especially when we feel like we're alone. It's sometimes easier to quit our jobs than to ask for a better schedule for the third time. It's hard to knock on doors to ask for petition signatures or annoy all our Facebook friends with yet another post about how mothers get shortchanged.
2. We have competing interests. Some people think it's great for workplaces to support families--as long as it doesn't take any time or money for businesses to implement those programs.
3. The cost is too great. If we ask for paid parental leave or to work part-time, we worry we might lose our jobs. If we promote workplace fairness at work, it could turn into a fight about politics rather than the issues that matter most, and we all know how well political arguments usually turn out.
4. We have other priorities. Sure, we'd love to fight for this cause, but there are all kinds of other causes demanding our time, attention, and money. I get this. I often feel scattered myself.
5. We just don't have time. The people who need family-friendly workplaces the most are often those who just don't have time to fight those battles. Who is the least likely to be entitled to paid sick leave? Food service workers and health care workers. They are also more likely to be working at multiple jobs and to have little time to spend with their families. So while they would welcome more rights, they're too busy just surviving to ask for them.
6. It's too frustrating. It sometimes feels like nobody else cares. You post about someone losing their job over breastfeeding, and nobody notices, but you post a cute picture of a kitten and suddenly your page is flooded with "likes". You tell people that women (and most especially mothers) face discrimination in the workplace all the time, and people don't believe you. The status quo is always more comfortable than change, and often when things have been a certain way for a long time, it's difficult for people to see that things could be different--after all, people have survived up until now, so is it really that important?
The answer is, of course, yes. It matters. It matters because we're talking about families, and few things have a longer effect on people's well-being than their home environment. How much healthier will children be if their mothers have maternity leave so they can breastfeed them? How much healthier will parents be if they're not stressed by trying to meet impossible demands from the workplace?
I know it's hard. This post is to encourage me to recommit just as much as anyone else. People might not care, but people often don't until they have a personal reason to do so. So let's make it personal. Let's tell each others' stories and show how a workplace based on fifties-style norms hurts us more than helps us.
It might cost us, it's true, and we might annoy our bosses, our friends, and others when we harp on these issues. But, you know, I like harps. And someone has to be the pioneer, to speak up when we're afraid or when no one else cares, to keep going when other people give up or wear out, to remind people about the things that matter most.
So guess what, internet world? I'm not giving up yet.