Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Living a Distracted Life

I returned from a three day weekend at my mom's to a phone and computer full of messages to return. I had one phone message, two text messages, one email, one Facebook message and had to initiate two other "conversations".

For the sake of simplicity, I decided to send off one message to two sisters. That seemed the most time effective, least intrusive and expedient way to pass along the message Mom wanted me to tell them. Mom would be aghast that I did not pick up the phone and call. Please don't tell her.

This set off a flurry of follow up texts as I "conversed" with each of my sisters at the same time. At the same time this was going on, I also texted one of my daycare parents telling her it would be fine if she brought her son to daycare the next day. We also conversed via text a few times before we put an end to that conversation.

I had one text, inviting me to phone the next afternoon at 5:30. Before I knew if I was free at 5:30, I actually had to pick up the phone and talk with my bookkeeping boss to confirm our plans to work the next day. When it was decided that "yes" we were working, I told her I was going to make a call first and I would be slightly delayed. Whew! Two decisions made with one conversation. I had one more text to send though.

Then came an invitation to go see a movie I wanted to see. The movie listings only went up to Thursday so could I "commit" to seeing a movie after having to work one night this week? Tough decision. Finally I found the words to say "yes" to the movie, but maybe we could see if a Sunday matinee would be a viable option when they listed the upcoming weekend's schedule.

I barely made that monumental decision (all of these "yes" or "no" and commitments and conversations falling upon my shoulders the minute I got home felt harder than they needed to feel) when another friend contacted me about attending an upcoming concert to see one of our favorite singer/songwriters. "Tickets go on sale on Friday!", but the event doesn't take place for two more months so that was a much easier "yes".

I walked in the door at approximately 5:30. I sent off my first text at 5:39 p.m. and made my last outbound contact at 8:49 p.m. Three hours of "conversations" with seven different people with need to make five decisions tapped out the last of my resources and I was more than ready to call it a day at the end of it all.

I find it so hard to say "Yes!" to life these days. It is even harder at the end of three days away from home. But I did it. I said "Yes!" to all five invitations, requests and suggestions. And it was good.

How did we do this back in the day when we relied solely on a telephone to communicate? I had four text message conversations going on simultaneously, with half written responses to two other people going on in my head at the same time. The only person who got my undivided attention was the person I talked with on the phone. Is it any wonder that my mom is exasperated with those who can't sit still and focus on ONE conversation, with ONE person without a blasted cell phone in their pocket that is driving them to distraction?

My mind was all over the map and I couldn't wait to shut down and turn off all means of communication. I'm grateful it was so easy to reach out to so many, make many decisions and have conversations that needed to be had. But now that I sit still with all of that "noise" of those three hours of my life, I feel badly for butting into line in too many people's lives.

Emails seem "polite". People read and respond to them when they have time. They are a little bit like an unopened letter sitting on the kitchen table waiting patiently for the recipient to have time to sit still and enjoy the visit when it works for them.

I used to think a telephone was rude and intrusive. You drop everything when the phone rings. Not so much these days. With call display and answering machines, it is becoming easier to "take a message and get back to you later".

But cell phones and texting? I know I should give them the same priority as an email but I can't. A text message invites an immediate response. Unless I'm driving, I usually heed that call. I am as disgusted in myself as my mom would be if she knew the extent that blasted little phone runs my life.

It is good to be "connected". But at what cost? I barely spoke to my son and acknowledged our cats when I got home from a three day absence. Granted, my son made the first move and headed downstairs with his supper. I assume he was in the middle of an "important" on-line game, which has become a priority far too much of the time. But who am I to judge? Look at the example I am setting.

I'm grateful I am not shying away from technology but it has crossed a line. It has become all too consuming within my life. I am the only one who can make the decision to turn off or ignore those little beeps and twirps and whatever other noises that phone makes to distract me from the moment I'm living in.

I would go and turn off that little attention grabber right now, if it wasn't the preferred method of communication within all of my daycare families. I'm glad our land line phone isn't ringing off the hook but that has come at a cost. The question is what is the price of an undistracted conversation these days? It has become a precious commodity.

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