What we’re doing, apparently, is finding newer, better, faster ways of communicating so that we can more easily ignore one another.
— Michael Ulrich (@michaelulrich) July 31, 2014
I posted this tweet the other day without any desire to make a jab at anyone in particular but to comment on something that scares me about even myself. We are in a time where we are more connected than at any other time in the history of the world, and what we use it for is to disconnect ourselves.
Sure, there are times we need to unplug and detach and just not be available in general. That's understandable. When we're this connected, we do need to be careful that we're not always attached to our devices.
But we have to be careful that we don't let this technology help us become worse people. If you don't want to return a text or answer a question or call someone back or make plans to see someone, it isn't their job to infer that from you. It is your job to tell them.
Want to know why? Because that's how you accept responsibility for your actions and feelings. And they are your responsibility. Solely yours.
Instead, it seems like what we expect is that others will just eventually get it. Like it's their job to know. "Oh I didn't respond to his last 20 twenty texts. Why doesn't he just get it?"
Get what, exactly? That you've chosen not to respond to those particular messages? That you're physically unable to respond to those messages? What you have when you make those decisions is the benefit of context. You know exactly what's going on, so you believe that everyone else does too.
Isn't it amazing that we're just a few generations removed from the people who would send breakup letters while someone was off at war, but we still manage to convince ourselves that "maybe if I just stop talking, she'll get the hint" is the most thoughtful approach?
Look, I get that what I'm suggesting is hard. It's going to cause a lot of cuts and bruises. You ready for the point of it all though?
It is supposed to be.
No one wants to tell you that because we're all on some quest to make our own lives as easy as we possibly can, but it's true. These things aren't supposed to be easy for you. They're not supposed to be easy for them. Nothing in this world should be easy. That's why the things that are should be appreciated. They're not normal.
And look, to speak from experience, you don't make things easier for anyone when you choose to play these games. You leave the other person confused and hurt and you gradually get more and more annoyed that, again, they just don't get it. So if they're hurt and you're bothered, ask yourself who you're helping by not taking ownership of what you want and don't want.
I want us to be people worthy of the tools that we have been given. Being able to communicate all the time always should make us better at communicating, not worse. And more importantly than that, I want to be a person, and I want you to be a person, with the fullest picture of the responsibility we hold in how we treat others.
Even if, from our current perspective, that person is just a few pixels on a digital screen.