Throughout my life, I have struggled with the idea of friendships and maintaining them, not because I dislike people, but because I find it so easy to get wrapped up inside of my own mind, inside of my own world, that the passage of time only feels long once I realise that the iOS update on my phone is a year behind and that I haven’t responded to somebodies invitation to go out for a drink from six months ago. Is it me… am I the flaky, impossible to reach friend?
Truth be told, I see your messages. I see the notification and I have every intention of responding, but “in a sec once I’m done doing this thing,” but then once I’m done, I’m onto the next thing, and then onto the next and onto the next after that. I find myself getting wrapped up inside my own bubble until it’s too late, or I feel like it’s too late, and the time to respond has long gone.
There was definitely a time in my life when I was probably the easiest person to reach, I found responding to messages to be the easiest thing in the world and didn’t understand why it took people so long to respond to mine, “It’s been a week, you can’t have been that busy!” I would be thinking to myself, but as I’ve gotten older and my life has well, happened, I find that I too, have fallen into bad texting habits.
The red circles on each icon on my iPhone would once bother me, I’d need them to be cleared so that my phone could look neat and tidy, now I find that 20+ notifications on Whatsapp isn’t a concern for me anymore; these notifications are easy to ignore whilst I’m trying to tick my list of things to do, “I’ll get back to you, I will.” I tell myself as if I’m somehow telepathically getting messages across to the other person.
To be honest though, I gave up trying to be the best version of my text self a while ago. I was finding that I was spending far too much time trying to get through text messages than I was doing things that needed to be done; yes I’m sure people get sick and tired of waiting on me, I would too, but once I respond I make the effort to dedicate some time to the other person, as if I’m somehow repenting for my flaky sins. Do I feel an itch of guilt for not replying sooner? Absolutely, it bothers and baffles me, but once I do respond, the damage has been done.
Lately I’ve also been feeling like I dedicate too much of my time to my phone, you may have noticed this via a lack of Instagram presence and admitting on Twitter countless times that I’d like to take a time out; I don’t see the issue with turning away from my phone and focusing my energy elsewhere, if I don’t want to be on my phone, this also means that it will take me more time to see a message or a notification, and truth be told I feel like that is a valid reason for taking a while although I worry about it causing some offence. The same way I’d rather tell someone I’ve been super busy instead of my ten hour day at work exhausted me to the point of falling asleep at 7PM and missed their message, but then I also beg the question: does every message need a response?
Someone sharing a funny meme with me via Facebook messenger, do I need to reply to affirm the fact that I found it funny? Amongst countless other types of texts that you feel weird about responding to; but we’re in the digital era where those of us that don’t want to constantly be texting are seen to be strange, weird and rude.
But although I’m definitely one of the first to say that we don’t need to spend so much time texting, that taking a step back from our phones isn’t a nightmare, I also understand that I’m missing out. If I had replied to that text sooner, would we have met up and had a great time? If I had responded to that text, would we then have gone on to have a long, engaging and fun conversation? Am I missing out on genuine connection for the sake of what, placing my priorities elsewhere?
The truth is as well, I use my phone for all sorts of reasons. To keep in contact with my other half and to also keep on top of my blogging side-gig. I’m constantly on alert for both of my inboxes: my day job and my blog job. So what is actually preventing me from sparing five seconds to put “LOL Funny meme.” to a video of Cian Twomey dancing dressed as his girlfriend, or for me to say “I’m good, how are you?” to a message asking me how it’s going. Am I really, just being a bad, flaky friend?
But because of the constant need to be on alert for my blog and my work emails; I’ve found my phone to become exhausting. I’ve even started playing mobile games to try and fall back in love with the device but the truth is: being constantly connected has begun to exhaust me.
Truth be told, I don’t like my phone anymore. I see people gloating about how they switched to an early 00’s Nokia so that their lives aren’t so focused on the online world, and I think to myself, “If only I was so brave,” but then, I also have to acknowledge my absolute privilege. I have a platform and I can earn money via Instagram and my blog, many people don’t have this and instead of having an easy going side-gig, have to work two laborious jobs. By pretending that my phone is a toxic place and that I’m flaky because I don’t like it anymore, I feel like I’m also turning down the obvious glory my phone has brought to me in the form of having extra cash to buy the things I like outside of paying the bills I owe.
I honestly don’t believe that being constantly connected is a good thing, I really don’t think that every text needs an immediate response, but I do feel like my stubbornness to stay in my lane and stick to my new principles is not a good thing. I don’t think I’d like it either if I had a friend choosing their morals over just letting me know how they’re doing. This is definitely, an area for me to work on and find a happy medium with.