Let me begin with a disclaimer: I am fully aware that I am one of the worst texters on this planet. I get it! I will even go as far as admitting the fact that I don’t even deserve a cell phone loaded with contacts, for this very reason. However, I’m going to take a jab at explaining myself, not for the sake of others but for the sake of myself.
I’m going to shoot straight here and tell you that I feel like instant and constant communication has destroyed the real essence and worth of actual human interaction. More so, it has created a realm in which actual conversations of significance are equal to everyday routine dialogue. The fast-paced reply that is expected from one another is destroying the real communication process.
“Yes, I got your text. No, I’m not ignoring you.”
I’ll be honest, when I get a text, I’ll pick up my phone, read it and put it back down, maybe even switch to a different app… regardless, that’s my prerogative. Reason being that ever since I’ve had a cell phone, it’s been like a ball and chain. It started to slowly but surely make me realize how dependent I am of my phone and having to talk to someone throughout my entire day. I forgot to have more meaningful conversations with myself and replaced it with sometimes pointless talks about things that serve no purpose. Admitting it is the first step.
I, personally, do not want to become a slave to a digital world of nonsense nor do I want to feel obligated to answer your text or call. This is the entire problem with cell phones. Just because you call, does not mean I have to pick up. If you see that I’m on Snapchat after screening your call, it’s not because I’m purposely trying to avoid you, it just means I’m not making myself available at any given moment. I had to teach myself to not feel guilty about these things. You should all try it too.
Often times, texts are constantly misconstrued due to poor communication tactics. “Why didn’t you answer my text?” is a question I hear so frequently. I’ve become so routine to saying things like, “sorry, I’ve just been so busy.” The point is, I’m tired of feeling like I have to explain myself to others who don’t understand that sometimes, people just want to be by themselves, unbothered. Example: if I’m on the couch watching television, that doesn’t mean I’m not doing something. I’m relaxing my mind and body. I’m entitled to that, aren’t I?
Relationships, Friendships, and Family
This is where it gets super messy.
I am so guilty of texting my boyfriend and sitting there thinking, “What could he possibly be doing that he can’t answer me back? He sent this text two minutes ago, did he zap into a different dimension? I’m pretty sure EVERY dimension has cell phones by now…” Right? The more I had the conversation with him about how I’d like to communicate more, the more he had to sit me down to open my eyes, and each time it was more of a harsh reality check than the previous.
This constant communication aids in the downfall of relationships and conversations. I know we can’t revert back to carrier pigeons and waiting weeks on end for a letter like Allie and Noah from The Notebook, but why can’t we limit our neediness for someone else’s attention?
This helped me realize that I do not have an obligation to answer people on demand or explain myself as to why I didn’t reply in a “timely fashion”. In no way, shape or form was he telling me that he doesn’t want to communicate with me throughout the day, but that I need to stop thinking that we should devote all of our time and attention to meaningless little texts. He positioned it like so, “I want to have things for us to discuss when we do see each other. Of course I want to know how your day went but I don’t want to be staring into my phone all day and night.” It just makes so much sense when you really think about it.
This goes for any type of relationship, whether it be with friends, family or a significant other. When you stop and think about it, it’s completely ridiculous. Someone getting mad at you because you weren’t available that moment they expected you to be… what has the world come to?
The same thing goes for the bittersweet group chat that now gives you the option, “Leave This Group”. I love the group chat that my friends and I have. It’s an ongoing thread with hilarious pictures, heartfelt confessions, scandalous stories and reoccurring discussion of fried chicken and wine, (I swear we are classy). You see, we keep this conversation on-going because our schedules simply don’t let us see each other as frequently as we’d like to, however, there are times where I’m just watching the conversation. I’ll pay attention to the chat and respond accordingly. Unfortunately, it’s not easy keeping up with every text bubble while you’re trying to be a rock star at your workplace and fulfill other daily duties. It may seem a bit selfish, “You can’t just take two seconds out of your day to reply?” Of course I can but add all the “two seconds out of my day” and it equals up to three hours. On the other end of the spectrum, we can easily go a day without talking and then pick up exactly where we left off. Friendship isn’t about who can answer the fastest or most frequently, it’s supposed to be so much more than that. But, I think people often forget.
And I’m sure we’ve all had our share of minor heart-attacks when you see “12 Missed Calls” from none other than the most high, your mom or dad. If you’re bold enough, you will pick up the phone immediately and call this woman who birthed you to explain yourself, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear my phone!” All the while, you’re freaking out because you don’t know what to expect from the other end… and most of the time it is nothing more than “Oh, I’m just checking in.” No matter how old we get, missing a phone call from a parent can be earth shattering for both parties.
But I can’t lie, there has been times where I’d be in the middle of something and I see that my mother is calling and I just can’t pick up. This only happens in cases that she knows exactly where I am or what I’m doing. Parents can get worried and paranoid, in their defense, it’s programmed into their nature and totally understandable. Sorry Ma!
I really had to stop myself to realize just how enveloped I became in the fast paced world and that I lost sight of the true value of missing someone or catching up with a friend over dinner. There once was a time that we were all fascinated by the quickness of e-mail, now we’ve just completely reinvented the fast-paced communication techniques and it’s causing the same amount of problems that it is solving. It’s a bittersweet world that I eventually wanted to limit. Instead of adapting myself to the phone and becoming so readily available, I’m working on adapting the phone to my life in where I see fit and necessary. Now, I think that will not only free up some of my time but also alleviate the “obligation” I felt was forced upon me.