The Subtle Art of Not Answering Your Phone

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Photo credit to Offbeat Magazine

We live in a 24-hour world with constant wireless communication around the globe. This is great for business purposes, because while you are sleeping in New York your supplier in Hong Kong can be busy at work and ready with your products by the time you’re going into the office the next morning. People have become accustomed to receiving responses to messages instantaneously, and sometimes become aggravated with you when they do not. Have you ever been otherwise occupied with typing a long email, cooking dinner for your family, or simply setting down the technology for a few minutes to focus on more tangible pursuits than Crackbook messenger and gotten a snotty message because you took longer than a half hour to answer?

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, and it often does. I do my 1099 taxes on an app, order things I cannot get locally on the Interwebs, and locate money making opportunities with a swipe of my thumb instead of having to check all the laundry mat billboards in a 20-mile radius. However, sometimes I find that I spend so much time on my phone or tablet not doing anything remotely productive and have nothing to gain from the experience but eye strain, a migraine from staring at the back lit screen, and anxiety about the world around me. A great deal of that anxiety comes from people getting annoyed when I “take too long to respond.”

You are not obligated to be chained to your devices for everyone else’s convenience. When your black mirrors stop being a tool for you to make your life more efficient and instead become a source of stress in your life, it’s time to take a step back. Go on a technology fast for a minimum of 48 hours, only answering essential messages and calls, such as from your daughter telling you she’ll be late coming home from soccer practice because coach had them run extra laps and not to worry.

If someone gets snippy at you for being otherwise occupied with tangible worries and not immediately answering, perhaps a polite, gentle reminder that the world does not revolve around them is in order. Resist the urge to apologize- you did nothing wrong by leaving your phone in the car so you can focus on a busy waitressing shift or leaving it on the charger for an hour while you get caught up with the housework. How many times have you procrastinated your laundry while playing Farmville? Is that the correct behavior you should be engaging in if you want to become successful?

Use technology as the tool it should be, and do not fall into the trap of letting it take over your life. There’s more to the world than the black mirror in your pocket.

Discuss your favorite ways to deal with cell phone junkies in the comments and how you are, or can become, more cognizant of when you’re doing too much Interneting in the comments section.

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