There was a time when landline telephones and postal mail were our primary methods of communication. Now we enjoy the benefit of cell phones, email, text messaging and social media which have literally eliminated transit time. That is a wonderful thing. Yet somehow it has created this artificial burden in our lives.
This weighty feeling that when we receive a contact from someone via any of these transit-free means, we are obligated to respond IMMEDIATELY. We think because the transit was instant, our response should mirror that. We mistake the transit time for the other person’s time since the communication is “real time.” We give the sender credit for their instant delivery and feel we should reciprocate that or else be perceived as ungrateful, disrespectful, or selfish.
This is not the fault of the sender. In most cases, I don’t believe the sender expects an immediate response. This is self-inflicted suffering! We all know the impact. We end up glued to our phones the entire day accomplishing very little of our goals. We feel overwhelmed and only dream of taking a break.
On another note, I don’t think it was ever the intent when this technology was invented for it to eliminate the development and processing period of communication. In the past, when someone wrote us a letter, not only was there transit time, but we may have taken a day or two, or even a week or more to respond. We may have read the letter a few times before putting pen to paper to craft a response. We may have mulled over the person’s ideas and thoughts and patiently considered our response as well as the intent in our response.
That process is necessary. It is a sign of respect and consideration. We are putting more time into the process which reflects we do care about the sender and appreciate their communicating with us. May we all push back from our internal burden and make space and time to respond carefully and lovingly to those in our lives.
Taking my time,