I Wanna Be Where The People Are

The BIGGEST MERCH SALE I HAVE EVER DONE  is happening RIGHT NOW in the HE STORE and ends on 9/21/13!!! $10 Books! $9 Shirts! Other things! Different Prices!

The more I worked from home, worked my own hours and spent the day making comics for, packing orders for and interacting primarily with Internet strangers, the more I felt disconnected from the people in my life. Eventually I started keeping crazy person hours, going to bed at 7am and waking up at 4pm (kind of what I’m doing right now) which made it totally impossible to have lunch with friends or even get out and run errands during the day with other humans were about. I tried working at Starbucks or the library just to be around other ambulatory corpses, but no one “office” other than my home ever seemed to be worth the trouble of packing up all my gear.

Cartooning can be a lonely job. The main thing that has made a difference in this is having other cartoonists on Skype video calls or Google Hangouts. They don’t even have to be talking that much for it to seem like there is another person in the room. Like you have a coworker. It makes such a greater impact when you can actually glance over and see your friends working instead of just hearing their voices, or reading their instant messages. This is especially appreciated by me since I only see most of my cartoonist friends 4-5 times a year, if I’m lucky. I would imagine the next piece of tech that’s going to become as ubiquitous as smartphones and tablets is large (life size) telepresence, either through Skype embedded in every TV or some sort of mobile projection apparatus. Imagine Thanksgiving dinner with your entire extended family projected on the wall, and you stuck in another state or another country. Other than the sensations of touch and smell, you SHOULD feel like you are all in the same room. I know when I think back to conversations I’ve had via video chat, I remember them as if we were together in the same space, not talking through little magic picture boxes.

COMMENTERS: I’m sure a number of your work from home, or have in the past. How do you combat the loneliness? Do you find you work better when you’re alone or when you have other people to bounce ideas off of?

NOTE: The Mobile Alt Text button broke when I put the big store sale banner in the site. As soon as the sale is over I will put the button back.

Have you seen my wife’s latest geeky jewelry creation? DNA Necklaces! 

DNA Necklace on Etsy


Comments (30)

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Every time people talk about working from home, all I can think about is this sketch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGg1567fzTY
Laura Condit's avatar

Laura Condit · 92 weeks ago

I had foot surgery a year ago and had to work from home for a couple of months. It was FABULOUS! IRL I share an office with a person who can be loud and VERY irritating sometimes so for me my time at home was a peaceful break. I don’t know if it would be difficult to adjust to being alone at home all the time but for me those two months were heavenly!
@TheJoshAtkins's avatar

@TheJoshAtkins · 92 weeks ago

I’ve been working at home for a little over 11 years now. My company closed our Boston-area office, and I stayed on remotely instead of relocating. At first it was FANTASTIC. I still had a large group of friends in the area that I could see if my off hours. Not having anyone around during the day was more than fine.

My wife and I have since moved, and making new friends in a new place as a work-at-homer has been very tough. I’ve taken a lot of classes through the Adult Education services in my town and met a few people that way. I started becoming more active on Twitter too. Following local people to get more of sense of the place. I still haven’t met most of my Twitter “friends” IRL, but having them virtually helps me feel more part of the place.

I feel the loneliness more in the days after getting together with old friends. Missing the old days of having them around all the time.

Daltana's avatar

Daltana · 92 weeks ago

I have two jobs. Mornings are spent working from home in a freelance aspect. Evenings are spent at the front desk of a small hotel. There are times I would gladly give up the second job for more time with the first, but I do enjoy the new people I meet each day.

On a side note, one of my elementary school classrooms had Number Munchers and Alphabet Munchers video games on old Apple II/IIe computers.

Yeah, I’ve worked from home off and on for the last few years; most recently I worked on a huge video project on such a tight schedule that I had to eschew the few social opportunities I had. And on those rare occasions when going out with people was unavoidable (like the small matter of my tenth wedding anniversary), I kept stressing about how much work I wasn’t getting done. So yeah, it can mess with your head.

It also puts me in mind of an earlier period, when I was working nights in a casino. I’d go to work at 10 PM and get home at 7 AM, putting me on pretty much the exact opposite schedule of all my friends. I started spending time on Yahoo chat, just to have people to interact with. I was keenly aware that it was no substitute for real social contact (even when I ventured into the *ahem* adult rooms), but the upside was that I met my wife that way.

Fren's avatar

Fren · 92 weeks ago

Lifesize telepresence is a thing. I install these systems all the time for corporate overlords. All you really need a a BIIIIG BIG monitor. Like a nice 60 inch panel. Mount that puppy in portrait orientation, configure a computer to hook that resolution in that orientation, and whammo. You’re set.

Don’t be fooled by all the fancy geegaws, a hardware codec is just a specialized computer running software that you can run on your own general use PC. You can do it!

I turn the tv on to keep me company sometimes and hear a voice that isn’t a 4 year old pretending to be a baby. I wind up watching a lot of truly awful tv. Did you know that H2 (a History channel) showed a program claiming that Kristalnacht was caused by Jewish teenagers who used a ouja board to raise a demon (a dybbuk) and didn’t properly disburse it? Yup, all the fault of Satanic Jews. Sadly, my writing got derailed by ranting on twitter.
Chad's avatar

Chad · 92 weeks ago

My husband works from home. 80% or more of his company are entirely home based employees. He gets up every morning at 630 and goes to the gym, runs errands during the day when work is slow, and we spend the weekends out amongst the plebs.
Miles's avatar

Miles · 92 weeks ago

Having an omnipresent skype seems a terrible thing to me, but I am not a work at home person. I also don’t turn a TV on for company (my TV is not in my apartment, it is in my brother’s home). I just… I just feel like silence is golden for me.
Of course, I don’t skype. I don’t use twitter. I don’t have a friendface account. Most memes pass me by undisturbed.
I am even okay not going out and meeting new people; it’s not that I am antisocial, but I value my alone time, and truy do enjoy the silence, and rarely get lonely. Of course, I find it pretty easy to make new friends and acquaintances too. I mean, right now, I’m many miles from ‘home’ as a mature student working on my Bachelor’s degree then my Master’s. The people I can friends are states away, and I get to see them once a year, maybe.
I dunno, I guess I am just a different kind of person.
I am more a “leave me alone so I can get my work done, and then screw around doing what I want to do” kind of beast.
Hotsauce's avatar

Hotsauce · 92 weeks ago

Actually, the George R R Martin cookbook is called “A Feast of Ice and Fire” and is a thing that actually exists.
I still have no desire to eat eel pie. I eat eel sushi, but eel pie just sounds… squamous

2 replies · active 92 weeks ago

Hotsauce's avatar

Hotsauce · 92 weeks ago

I think it’s called “Samwell Tarley is Self-insertion”
If I feel lonely, I make a phone call. But that’s rare. I enjoy time by myself.

I’m also too much of a control freak to let anyone have input into something I’m doing. So I never bounce ideas off anyone. 😀

EvilRonda's avatar

EvilRonda · 92 weeks ago

I’ve been working from home for a few years now, with my ridiculous dog for company, and I love it!

I work for a company that mostly is on east coast time, and I’m on the west coast, so i get up a bit early, and am generally able to shut off work by 3, then go out into the world to be with the normal humans.

It’s fantastic 🙂

Its disappearance is explained in the blog post on this very page.
DuckAmuck's avatar

DuckAmuck · 92 weeks ago

My favorite George R. R. Martin themed recipe is “The Red Breading.”

1 reply · active 92 weeks ago

DuckAmuck's avatar

DuckAmuck · 92 weeks ago

From the cookbook “A Feast of Pies and Flour.”
If you figure it out, let me know!

The quiet is one of the more difficult aspects of working from home. And some days are harder than others. What works for me is keeping to my daily work schedule (I strictly keep regular office hours). The regularity of it helps the day move along, keeping me busy, and not thinking of how quiet the house it.

Oh that, and playing music VERY VERY LOUDLY.

Adam p-s's avatar

Adam p-s · 92 weeks ago

I’m a (humanities) Grad Student, so the most human contact I really get is going to the library to get books. I pretty much talk to my cat constantly, run ideas past him, read him quotes. I usually take his silence to mean “Good idea boss!”.
lurkie's avatar

lurkie · 92 weeks ago

I found that the moans and “oh baby” noises of the girls in the porn i was constantly watching was pretty close to human contact. Didn’t help me get my work done, though. I think I’m better off now that I’m back in an office…
neph sy's avatar

neph sy · 92 weeks ago

Crazy person hours – as a natural night owl, that’s my life much of the time. Why do people think you’re lazy if you don’t keep the same hours they do? You sleep the same amount, you work the same amount, it’s just not the same TIME schedule.

The lack of daily contact with people has been grinding me down over 10 years. I am seriously considering getting a part time job just for the social aspect, except I travel quite a bit for half of the year.

My partner is home, because he has been unemployed for a couple of years, and we spend much of our day in different parts of the house. However I worry that we are becoming a circle of two, the weird couple that people can’t relate to. Not that I mind being considered weird, I guess I just need to find more weirdos, people I can relate to.
Too many

Part of the issue is that all my closest friends moved far away years ago for better opportunities, and I don’t meet any new people. Phonecalls, emails and chatting online with strangers does help a bit. Going to craft shows and talking to customers and other crafters is always a pick-me-up. Recently I made friends with a local jeweller who loves to talk, and is also a bit odd. Even though she is more disciplined that I am, she doesn’t judge if I’m working in my pjs, or decide to work a marathon of 24 hours straight .

Inigo Montoya's avatar

Inigo Montoya · 92 weeks ago

Am I the only person who really wants to play that game? lol
Just going out to a cafe or library helps, just to be near people, it helps the cabin fever!
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One Comment

  1. I work from home and have done so for a couple years now. I'm sure this also contributes to why I spend all my evenings on Warcraft; this is where my family, my friends, my community, my emotional net exists. These are the people who love me, who sent flowers when my mother died, and with whom I exchange random acts of mailed-across-the-country banana bread and cookies.
    What I'm saying is, online connections can be just as important and meaningful and in-person connections.
    And there ain't nothing wrong with that.

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