Monday, May 13, 2013

Instant Communication

Note:  This post will probably step on some toes.  It's not meant to do so.  It *is* meant to offer another perspective; one that is, hopefully, also laced with encouragement.  There ya go.  :)

We are at a period in time when some of us still remember life before electronic communication.  Fiddle.  There are even some of us (though, admittedly, far fewer in number, who can remember that a telephone was a luxury and not every single home - much less every single person - had such a device).

Before electronic communication (emails, IMs, Pms, texts and the like), people kept up with their long-distance friends through postal mail (long-distance phone calls were very costly; and not considered a way of life back then).  Sometimes several weeks would pass before one friend replied to the other; it just depended on what else was going on in the writer's life during that time specific period as to how expedient they would be able to reply.

Part of that was that correspondence used to be an art; or at least, an event to be savoured.

I like that.  I like being able to sit down, relaxed and completely unrushed and focus my attention completely on whomever I am writing to at the moment.  I like being able to have moments of memories regarding the recipeint of my note.  It's almost the next best thing to be there with them.  I also realize that many of y'all are probably staring at your computer screen and asking me just exactly when you are going to be able to find the time to do this.  I get that; it's a busier world today than it was yesterday.   But, nonetheless, I still like thinking of keeping in touch as an event to be savoured; even if the event last just only minutes.

("Moments of memories" - y'all like that?  I just made that up.  At least I think I just made it up; who knows; the web of world wideness might be filled with that phrase.  That's how it goes; everytime I think I'm creating something original via my words, I find out that it's already been created and breathing on its own.  Fiddle).

Today, firmly ensconced in the Information Age, we can access any type of information in mere seconds.  This speed of transmission also applies to how quickly we can communicate with each other.

And . . .

. . . It also has changed our perspective on how quickly others should respond back to us.  We have become an impatient society; wanting our replies from others to arrive at the speed of light.  When the replies do not come quickly enough, we take offense and receive hurt feelings where none of neither was offered in the first place.  We imagine various scenarios as to why the other person hasn't yet responded; all usually pointing at some type of negativity that we know they must be feeling toward us.  "We", of course, is generic; "we", in this instant, truly doesn't apply to me; and kudos to you if it doesn't apply to you, neither. 

I'm not talking about business and customer service.  I do believe that businesses should be prompt in replying to inquiries, complaints, et al (however, I also do recognize that there should also be a reasonable time period allowed for such replies; and that time period is *not* instantaneous).  However, as I mentioned, this post is not about the business world.

This post *is* about the personal communications we have with each other; whether those communiques are via emails, PMs, IMs, texts or other similar such zooming-fast avenues.

Over the years, I have periodically received an electronic communication wherein the sender either asked me if they have offended me or apologized for doing so and/or both - asked about and apologized for an offense . . . when no offense was even perceived on my part.  The motive behind these notes?  I had not yet responded to their note they sent to me.  My memory can recall at least three separate times (with different people each time) where I have received such curious correspondence.  Since three times is the charm (as the saying goes) I've decided it's time for this post.

What's most puzzling is that those notes in question were sent maybe a day prior (if, even that long) to my receiving the writer's next note wondering if they had offended me; sometimes mere hours had passed before the question of offence was brought up.  When I then ask them why they think they've offended me, they then tell me because I haven't responded to their note yet.  Just to be clear, we are not talking about emails or PMs that carry any type of urgency with them, nor are we talking about notes wherein there was already pre-existing friction between the writer and me; the notes in question were not time-sensitive nor urgent in any way.


Heavy sigh.

Breathe in.  Breathe out. 

Repeat.  Breathe in.  Slowly.  Now, breathe out.  Slowly.

Now.  Repeat this 3 more times.

I had to take a moment to decompress.  Thank you for bearing with me (and perhaps, you, too, took your own moment to bring relaxation back into your life, as well).

Have we become that impatient as a society that all correspondence must be answered immediately?  Or, is it not impatience that fuels such uncertainty, but perhaps insecurity?  I ponder that last part because of various things I read on people's Facebook walls that clearly show their insecurity regarding their relationships with people as a whole (but, again, that's a whole other topic, for another day).

Either way, may I tell y'all, dear friends, that the outcome for the recipient (being me) of such notes is usally some type of stress; regardless as to whether the notes were fueled by impatience or insecurity, or even both.  If prior to the "original" note, there wasn't any friction between us, why create some by writing the second note wondering if I have been offended because I haven't immediately answered your first note?

Can y'all see how that would be frustrating; especially given the short time frame between when the first note was written and then the second note written?  Why borrow trouble where none exists?

So!  Here are some reasons as to why I might not respond to your note to me right away:

  • I may be time-pressed.  I might have time to read a note, but not have the time to respond.  Nature might have called.  The puppy girls might have come bounding up to me with tales to tell me of their outside adventures.  Tex might have come home (and, yeah . . . pretty-much, when Tex is home and is not working on his thesis or out weeding the flower beds or anything else that doesn't involve me, we are probably going to be together, focusing our time on each other).  Perhaps, grandbabies or great nephews and/or nieces or even non-familial babies entered the picture at that moment (yep, if a baby is around me, I'm definitely going to be immersed in his / her world, along, most definitely, with the awesome adults of whomever brought the babies to see me).  Maybe, I needed to turn my attention to things of the kitchen.  Perhaps there's a knock on the door and the person whose knocking either wants to award me an obscene amount of free cash or they want to name a new country after me.   Fiddle.  The reasons for being time-pressed are as many and as varied as there are shades of color.

  • One of the main reasons why I don't respond immediately to an electronic communication is that sometimes, my response to your note requires thought and contemplation.  I'll think about the contents of your note to me while I go through my day(s); and then when I'm ready to respond, I will.
  • Now.  Admittedly, there are times when I do let an email or a PM slip by with too much time before answering.  But that doesn't mean that I'm offended; it just means that either I'm forgetful or busy (or both).  Please don't automatically assume I'm over here, in my little corner of the world, nursing hurt feelings because of something that you've written (especially when the intent of your note was completely void of anything like that).  Really.  Don't do that.  Don't do that to me *AND* don't do that to yourself.   If I feel someone is being offensive to me (and especially, if it's out of their character to do so), I'm pretty capable of asking for clarification before assuming that an offense was intended.  And, even if an offense was taken (regardless as to whether it was intended or not, you can bet your boots that my personal preference will be to work it through with you; not to go on silent mode.    But.  Either of those two scenarious (asking for clarification or working through a rough patch with a friend) will often also require thought and/or time before I respond.  I'm not a "fly off with my fingers" kind of communicator (yeah, sometimes I do that with my mouth, but definitely not with the written word).  If too much time has gone by and you haven't received a reply from me yet, don't be shy about giving me a gentle nudge / reminder.  But.  Please let that timeframe be at least a few days.  And, remember, please don't automatically assume that you have offended me and now owe me an apology.  (Speaking of apologies, I receive waaaay more apologies from people than I think are required; regardless as to why the apology is proffered.  Rarely, rarely, rarely do I think someone owes me an apology.  Ironically, sometimes when I do think an apology to me is truly appropriate, it is not forthcoming.  Go figure.  We're a crazy, mixed up bunch, we humans - and I'm including myself that time in this particular "we".  And just as an FYI, frankly, I'm much more ok with the apologies that never come versus the multitude of extraneous apologies that are given so freely.  Please don't apologize your life away.)
There ya go.

One more thing, y'all . . . I've received several electronic messages over the past few days.  If you are among this specific group of wonderful people, please, please, please do not assume that I'm talking about YOU in this post.  And while there's only been one of y'all recently that has asked if they have offended me, know that I'm not talking only to you.  You, my charming friend, may have been the catalyst for this blog entry (being the charm of the third time and all that, doncha know), but I am *not* singling you out; you just gave me great fodder for this post.  :)

Thanks for reading, y'all!
Be blessed, relax, practice patience and take time to savor.
In other words. . . Chill, babycakes!


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