Raise your hand if a typical work day begins like this: your alarm goes off around 7:00 am and you lazily stick your hand out from under the covers and immediately hit snooze on your cell phone. You might not actually hit snooze, but you might as well have because you can’t leave your bed until you scroll through all of the social media sources that you can find (i.e. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and maybe that Apple news app thing on a slow day). This is definitely reminiscent of every one of my mornings and I’m not complaining. I actually enjoy easing into the day. I might even set my alarm 15 to 20 minutes before I actually need to get up, just to give myself extra time to soak in that media.
The point of that little vignette is this: our cell phones are always with us. We wake up with them, we go to sleep with them, and we might even take them into the shower with us (one of my friends really loves music in the shower). However, when it comes to keeping appointments, being on time, and actually being responsive, it is as if we run from the conveniences of the 21st century, back to the 1800s. How many times have you heard this refrain, “Oh man, I’m so sorry, I didn’t have my phone”? Oh, so you didn’t get up for work all week? How about this one, “I didn’t see your text.” You didn’t see my text come up on your phone, computer, and tablet simultaneously?” Finally, my personal favorite, “I’m so sorry, were we supposed to meet today?” Yeah, my Google calendar, iCal, and Outlook all stopped sending me reminders too. Literally, with all the productivity apps and built-in reminders our cell phones have, I hear these excuses more and more each week. It’s actually starting to get pretty annoying.
Let me just pull back for a moment. I don’t want to generalize. Sometimes, these excuses are completely legitimate because technology messes things up, that’s a fact. However, more often than not, these are excuses that we use when we make the choice not to respond to certain individuals or events, when we, ultimately, choose not to be reliable. Now, that’s a powerful statement. I want to think about reliability as a choice. It seems that the millennial generation prides itself on being the least reliable generation simply because it’s cool to consciously become technology distant. There are so many apps for freezing one’s computer and so many self-help books that say to unplug for at least an hour a day for mental health.
I’m a big supporter of putting my phone on Airplane mode during runs or workouts just to be disconnected for a little bit; it keeps me sane. However, after that period of time is over, I turn off Airplane mode and resume my normal life, because the real world beckons. I have to respond to certain things so that plans can be made, assignments can be completed, and other people can go along with their day. In essence, I don’t want to hold anyone else up because that’s just rude. However, more and more of my peers use the excuse of unplugging as a badge of honor, to symbolize that they’re looking out for their mental health and being more productive irl (in real life). That is all well and good, but when days go by between texts or emails that’s a choice to be unreliable and a choice not to speak to me personally.
Additionally, I also think being unreliable is kind of in vogue now, the cool thing to do as it were. So many people say, “I’m a horrible texter”like it’s a positive attribute and something that they don’t need to work on. They trumpet it around as if it means they’re so busy doing other things that they don’t even have time to text. I think we need to be more honest with ourselves. First of all, no one is that busy. Let’s be honest, these individuals, if they have a significant other or trying to have one, are using their phones for something (i.e dating apps). Being responsive to you and others is simply not a priority for them. They are making a choice to be unreliable, because, let’s face it, you can’t have sex with someone that doesn’t answer you back; they’re responding to people, just not to you.
While it sounds like I’m being overly negative, I really am not. I completely acknowledge that time is a finite quantity and that there are only 24 hours in the day (although I think Beyoncé has slightly more, just saying). It’s okay to prioritize one’s time, I certainly prioritize mine. However, just own up to the fact that that other individual or group isn’t your priority anymore and don’t text back at all. Don’t apologetically text them back days later and make some excuse. Be proud of the way you use your time, even if it’s consciously not responding to your friends. I say, don’t let unreliability be the standard, and don’t put up with your friends that are that way. Let them know that your time is more valuable than putting up with their bull. Once we stop accepting that behavior, people will change. Who’s with me?