A new employment law in France allows employees to ignore work email after office hours. After teaching us a thing or two about democracy – even though too many lost their head over it – the French are leading the way about the challenges of technology and its impact on life.
In the darker times of the George W. Bush regime, it was fashionable in the United States to mock France and the French ways. A lawmaker whose name is better forgotten for the sake of his family’s honor even proposed to rename the French fries – the standard side to any American dish – “Freedom fries.” Enough said.
Yet whether some make fun of them or not, there surely is nothing more annoying than work email. Probably one of the biggest understatements of modern life is how stressful permanent connectivity has become. We live in the age of anxiety: news banners and flashes, social media alerts, a myriad of chat systems, do not give us respite. And of all this bombardment of information – most of it positively useless and incapable of making us happier – none is worse than an email from your boss or a colleague, when you are home and winding down after a long day at work.
There are certainly limitations to how this law could be implemented. Some jobs would surely be exempt, including emergency services, journalism and others. But none of that prevents us from saying, “Vive la France!”