WHY SHOULD WE BE CONTACTABLE 24/7?

Do you find yourself getting annoyed, frustrated or even pissed off when someone doesn’t reply to your message within hours?
Do you feel like it must mean that they’re mad at you, or that something’s up and they don’t want to talk to you?
Now look at it from the other side.
Ever feel like you just wish everyone would leave you alone for a minute, so you can be in peace and quiet by yourself?
Sick of staring at your screen all day and having to carefully think about what to type?

I’ll admit, I tend to be one of the latter. One of those ‘annoying’ people who sometimes takes ages to reply to messages or emails. Particularly if they’re long, I feel like it takes a lot of my mental energy and time to sit down and consciously reply to someone. Typing can be tricky- you don’t always know if what you’re intending to say will be received in the same way, so for me, I need to feel as though my head is clear before I respond. It’s something I know I need to work on, because I’ll think to myself ‘I’ll reply later’, and before I know it days have passed and I’ve totally forgotten (sorry if you’ve been the recipient of this- please don’t take it personally!)

Don’t get me wrong- I absolutely love receiving messages (so please don’t stop sending them!), but it got me thinking about the expectations and pressure that we place on ourselves and others to be contactable ALL THE TIME.

These days, our phones are basically an extension of ourselves. Like an extra limb. We’re so addicted to them that we can’t let them go.
We feel the need to always be ‘on’. To be in constant contact with the world.
But why do we feel that way?
And why should we?
Who says we have to?
Just because the technology is there to be able to do it, it doesn’t mean we have to be.
The truth is, it’s exhausting us. Depleting and draining our mental and physical energy.
Years ago when I was studying Early Childhood, there was a particular assignment in an Aboriginal studies class where we had to bring in one item that represented or symbolised something special to us. I don’t remember what the object was that one of the girls brought in, but I will always remember what she said. She talked about how she loved to spend time out in nature- walking, camping, anything really. But what she most loved about it was that she could disconnect from the world. How she would leave any technology behind and enjoy those moments of her life without having to answer to anyone. No one could contact her, and that was bliss for her. She had all the free time that she wanted to simply just be.
At the time, I don’t think I quite understood the depth of what she was saying, but I really do now. Taking time for ourselves to switch off from everyone and everything else is essential to our wellbeing.
Why is it so foreign to us now, to not be able to be out of reach?
Why can’t we enjoy and live our lives, without feeling like we need to be constantly ‘on and ready’?
It’s the social norm, but is it really necessary?
Think back even 10 years ago- how did we survive without having our phones on us every second of the day? If someone called the house and you weren’t home, too bad. Now you can’t leave the house without taking your mobile in case someone needs to get in touch with you. I didn’t realise how incredibly anxious it makes us, when we have the deep-down feeling that we need to be ‘on’ all the time. If you try it yourself and switch off your devices for awhile, you’ll understand how freeing and liberating it really is.
Allow yourself to be ‘off the grid’ for at least a small part of your day.

No wonder why we feel this way though- so many people can’t go anywhere without feeling the need to share photos and status updates of their day with the world. Everyone else is doing it- we feel like we need to keep up. So we do.

Now people go on holidays halfway across the world, and instead of being out and enjoying their time in a new place, they’ll spend it on Facebook, updating everyone on what they’ve been up to. I occasionally do that too, and it’s a comforting feeling knowing that loved ones know you’re safe, but it kind of defeats the purpose of going away when you think about it, doesn’t it?

Another place I tend to notice this addiction and obsession with being connected is on planes. The other day I was on AN HOUR flight. You would think that one hour isn’t that much of a big deal to not be connected to the online world, but apparently not. A guy opposite me couldn’t bring himself to turn off any of his devices. Before we took off, he was Snapchatting, taking selfies, posting on Facebook, scrolling through Instagram, and checking emails, and this continued while we were actually in the air. Throughout the flight I’d look over every now and then to see what he was doing, and he was constantly back and forth between his laptop and phone, not being able to take his eyes away for a second. Then literally as soon as the wheels hit the ground, everyone around me scrambled for their phones and turned them on, scrolling through social media for the next five minutes until the plane actually stopped moving. It’s literally an addiction- no one could help themselves!

Here’s another. Do you keep your phone on overnight?
If so, ask yourself ‘why’?
Don’t do it to yourself. Surely getting a restorative, full nights’ sleep is more important than being woken up by a message tone? Surely whatever the message is about can wait until the morning, instead of disturbing your sleep? You don’t need to be contactable in the middle of the night, but if you need it on for your morning alarm then switch it to airplane mode so you won’t be woken up by anyone.
I hate using the word ‘should’, because I never want to make people feel like they’re doing something wrong, but in this case it needs to be said.
Our devices shouldn’t be ruling our lives.
We shouldn’t constantly keep stopping what we’re doing, just because our phone makes a noise.
This not only goes for messages, emails and notifications, but for phone calls too.
How many great conversations were you in the middle of when either you or the person you were with was interrupted by a phone call? Sometimes you can’t come back from that. The moment is gone and you forget what you were talking about.
Don’t feel like you have to pick it up. You can call them back.
We let the tone of a notification get in the way of our lives.
Let’s flip it around. How about we…
LET LIFE GET IN THE WAY.
Release the expectation that you need to drop everything you’re doing to reply to someone.
And extend that knowing to others. Be ok with having to wait awhile until you get a response, and remind yourself that maybe they’re out living life and they can’t or don’t want to stop what they’re doing to reply to you.
Choose those beautiful REAL LIFE moments, instead of being interrupted by your online life.
It can wait.

2 Comments

  1. Kirsty Head

    I love this Heidi! I am really bad at this but have recently turned all of my apps push notifications off on my mobile and this has seemed to help me A TINY BIT for now! I’m hoping to push the habit away more and more!
    I really love this statement – LET LIFE GET IN THE WAY. I will definitely be referring back to this post and remembering it when i go to grab my phone!
    Enjoy your rest xx

    Reply
    • Heidi

      Thanks so much Kirsty, I’m so happy to hear that! :) It can be really difficult because it’s so natural and normal for us to do now, so yay for turning off your push notifications and getting started! xx

      Reply

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