I called one of my closest friends this morning for a quick catch up. He answered the phone but immediately informed me that he couldn’t talk as he was busy – he was sat on the toilet!
This got me thinking. Yes, thinking about things I wished I wasn’t thinking about and thinking ‘what was he doing answering the phone?!’. But it also got me thinking about technology and our instant communication culture.
Why did he feel the need to answer when the call could have waited? Why do we often feel pressured to answer emails almost before we have received them? Why do people feel the need to share their deepest feelings with the whole world through Twitter, Facebook and the like. It is too easy to blame technology when all those things require us to make a decision to take an action. But there is surely something about the instant nature of communication technology and the culture it helps to enable that drives our behaviour. We convince ourselves that we must respond straight away to any contact. Why? Because we can. This was not possible before when we used the phone after 6pm because it was cheaper. People sent each other letters, often in the second class post. And when people went travelling around Europe/the world- a friend told me that he did this recently- they used telegrams to reassure their parents back home that they were safe after three weeks of no contact!
I type this as a self-diagnosed iPhone, iPad and Twitter-addict and someone who have a thirst for constant news and sport updates. But I also say this as someone who as each year goes by realises that most things can wait, no-one should be so important that waiting a few minutes to speak to them won’t be a problem and that we should we dictating our emails not allowing them to dictate to us. Even before coming to these conclusions, even my addiction to instant communication has not moved into the little boys’ room!
New technology can be empowering but we should use it to make our lives easier and our communication quicker, not to be so intrusive as to follow us everywhere.