Call me at the office. You can reach me at home. Try my cell phone. Email me. Text me. You can message me on Facebook. Direct message me on Twitter. These are all ways for us to communicate today and there are even more ways.
Looking back to the 70’s when I remember our first answering machine. How genius it was that someone can leave a message for us when we are not at home. Like my kids today, I knew how to work the machine better than my parents, at least at first. So here are some reflections on how the environment has changed:
• Cells phones used to be for emergencies. First it was for doctors and law enforcement; they definitely had emergency situations (remember they had beepers before cell phones.) It was then every girl’s promise to her parents that the cell phone was restricted for emergency purposes. And of course, the parents needed cell phones in case their kids needed them too. Now, my husband and I were recently in a store and a woman walked by completely engrossed in her conversation. She was completely unaware of others within the sound of her voice. She continued to tell her very personal story to the listener. She said, “I’m looking for growth and right now I am static.” I’m just not sure that walking through Costco with others around is the right place for that deep introspection. Perhaps if she walked through an experience and saw the others around her, she might have a better chance for growth. In my mind, people on cell phones are involved in business, a situation has some urgency or a decision is time sensitive. To my children and clearly others, the cell phone is an accessory.
• We buy electronics to entertain our kids. Most days in the back seat, my kids fight over the Ipad. “It’s my turn, you have to give it to me now, your turn is too long, give it back.” And then, “Mom, can I have your cell phone while he has the Ipad?” Then my husband and I fight over the kids having the Ipad. When I was younger, my brother and I would play a game called “Got You Last.” Basic instructions of the game were that you had to tag the person and say, “Got you last.” Pretty easy, no assembly required and you didn’t need any equipment to play. However, if you are confined to the back seat with no place to run, it often escalated to some form of hitting, simple annoyance and then of course, yelling from Mom and Dad.
• With all these methods available to make a connection, why are we still struggling to communicate? When I was younger, I used to get excited to walk in to see that I had messages. Simple – someone was trying to reach me, looking for me, needed to speak to me. Who doesn’t want to feel wanted? Can anyone really use the excuse “I couldn’t reach you” - not really. And how many of us ran to the answering machine hoping our new love had called us? And how many of us have left messages only to have them unanswered. It is frustrating, it hurts and it makes one feel unimportant when we don’t get a call back or an email response. I try very hard to return all phone calls or emails within an appropriate time frame. Life does get in the way and I admit, my priorities sometimes get mixed up, but even if I don’t have the response that I know the caller or emailer want, I still feel the need to respond. It is better to be responsible and kind than have all the answers. I also recognize that most people want to be acknowledged for the contact they made even though I don’t have the information they need. Everyone wants to be heard and make a connection. No one wants to be ignored.
Call someone you love, or email, text, send a message on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media. Just reach out today to tell someone you care and that they matter. Live, Love and Connect.