Recently I have noticed that I have been taking longer to respond to text messages than usual. Upon first thought, I feel anxious or bad for taking so long to respond, but after further contemplation, I think it’s better this way.
As I talked about in this post, our society functions based on the intense desire to be connected to one another. Social media and text messaging, as well as video calls, have allowed us to be connected to people at literally any moment of the day. While this does prove to be purposeful at times, it can also be problematic. If I am working on a paper, for example, and someone texts me and we begin a conversation, my focus shifts from my present task to this conversation. I become hyper-sensitive to hearing my phone vibrate, or noticing its screen light up. I become kind of anxious waiting for the next message so I can answer promptly. This desire to answer promptly probably stems from not wanting to be rude and leave them hanging, and also to keep the conversation flowing, but I wish I didn’t feel it.
Recently, I’ve had a few instances in which I am too consumed writing or staring at the sky or taking time in my own brain to notice when someone texts or calls. If that person has a direct question or is inviting me somewhere, my immediate reaction to missing their text is anxiety or sadness. “I wish I would have seen this before I decided to go for a walk so I could have gone to Target with Susie,” or something like that. But then I think, “Hey self, did you enjoy this walk? Did you enjoy wandering aimlessly by yourself, feeling disconnected from the world for a while?” And the answer is always yes. If I am engaging in any sort of activity by myself, and I am connected to what I’m doing, it really isn’t a shame I missed Susie’s invite. I can go to Target with Susie anytime, but I might not have the exact same thought I had half an hour ago that prompted the poem I just wrote. Or I wouldn’t have wandered past the same rotting tree that made for a really beautiful picture. If I would have seen her message, I would have abandoned these endeavors for something else.
This lack of interference is necessary. Taking time for yourself and becoming unaware of other people trying to contact you is quite nice sometimes. There is no reason to apologize for answering someone hours after they texted you. You were busy living in your real life, and wholeheartedly enjoying it; do that more often.