Breaking the Cycle of Constant Communication

Breaking the Cycle of Constant Communication

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I  am one of those people who has to communicate with people all day long. I never sign out of Facebook, and my cell phone is always next to me or in my hand. I answer emails and text messages almost immediately.

One of the main reasons I'm addicted to technology is because it allows me to keep in touch with childhood friends who moved away and college friends who live out of the area. My best friend from fourth grade came to visit me over the weekend, and it was like almost three years hadn't passed since we'd last seen each other. We picked up right where we left off because technology enabled us to stay close.

While there are so many positive things about social media and cell phones, they can also wear on us. I can text three people, have a conversation with someone on Facebook and catch up on 10 games of Hanging with Friends all at the same time, but doing that constantly throughout the day wears me out.

I've started feeling guilty if I don't answer a text message right away because people know I check my phone constantly. One of the things that bothers me the most is reading reports people can request on their phones that let them know when their text was viewed. My phone has the capability, but I chose not to enable it. I know it would drive me crazy. I'm already paranoid and don't even read messages anymore until I'm ready to respond. 

Facebook does the same thing with private messages. People can see exactly when I viewed their message, and if I don't answer in a reasonable amount of time, it can seem like I am ignoring them or don't care. When and why did it become a bad thing to read a message from someone and wait to answer? I started noticing these things over the past week, and I've been trying to talk myself out of the mindset that communication needs to be constant.

I've found myself flipping my phone over or leaving it in another room so I can have a few minutes of peace. The sad thing is, I'm thinking about my phone and what I'm missing the whole time I'm not looking at it.  I've even been closing the Facebook tab on my computer while I do certain things lately so notifications won't distract me.

Newer technology has almost taken the fun out of waiting for people to respond and appreciating it when they do. What happened to the simplicity of communication? I enjoy receiving handwritten letters or sending cards to friends. I cherish those more than any text message or email, and I am much more patient about waiting for them. Why can we wait for things like that but expect immediate responses to text messages? 

What happened to not thinking people are ignoring us when they fail to respond immediately? It's OK not to answer the second you receive a message. Sometimes we end up spending hours talking about nothing at all because we communicate so much with each other. We can still care about people even if we don't talk to them all day, every day. If we don't let life happen in the middle, we'll eventually run out of things to say.

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  • THIS.  Totally this.  My friends always used to get annoyed with me for leaving my phone in the corner for half the weekend and ignoring it.  But I needed that break from constant contact.  

  • Phone?  What phone?  :D  Seriously, my phone is definitely NOT something that I live by.  I've been known to leave it in the car after work on Friday, and not even realize it until Sunday morning when I leave for church.  Now that I live by myself and don't have a land line, I'm a bit more conscious of where my phone is because I would definitely want it handy in case of an emergency.  I get maybe 10-15 texts per month, and most of those are from family members who text rather than call during the day because they know I usually can't answer a phone call but will get around to answering the text when I have a break.  Most of my friends know that I'm not an expert texter (I have a "dumb phone" that doesn't even have a qwerty keyboard, so texting is a SLOW process for me), so they either email me, Facebook message me, or call me.  Now THOSE?  Yeah, I confess that I'm pretty attached to my computer communication!        

  • Bwahahaha! MissC! I am reminded of a time when I once left my phone AND my ID at work! I had no idea what to do, so I ended up emailing into work from my computer! In the end my mom brought over an old prepaid phone with like 10 emergency minutes on it in case that happened to me again.

    But yeah, I like my phone, but I can ignore it. Nothing is more important than the folks I'm face to face with, usually.

  • Bravo, Amy; you nailed it with a War hammer.

    One thing I have lamented about texting is that it should be something convenient and less intrusive than a phone call.  You can get to it when you have time, right?  However, it seems that we build our expectations on our friends looking down at their phones to text us while at work, Bible study, a meeting, face-to-face conversations, etc., sadly, just like we do.  I need to get into the habit of more often making an actual phone call to someone if it's fairly important/urgent, thereby creating a calmer atmosphere for texts.

    I actually only just found out about the Facebook Messenger feature that tells you when someone saw your message (apparently it's been around for over a year) and I was pretty disgusted.

  • --"What happened to not thinking people are ignoring us when they fail to respond immediately? It's OK not to answer the second you receive a message." Cell phones have created an expectation that someone will <i>always</i> be available RIGHT NOW... sometimes that just isn't possible. I've noticed this at my office, too. Especially from customers... when I transfer a call to a co-worker and it goes to voice mail, the caller will almost always kick back to me at the switchboard to ask, "Is X here today? He didn't pick up." YES, he IS here today.. he just got up from his desk for five minutes. Or he's on the phone. I spend almost as much time convincing callers that someone will call right back in just a few minutes as I spend actually taking messages.

    Luckily, that doesn't happen to me when I'm not working... most of my friends will wait for me to respond when I have a chance.

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