This weekend marked the beginning of the school year, where 90 or so resident assistants, myself among them, scrambled to check in almost 2,000 first year students fueled only by caffeine and sugar. Personal time is a joke for about a week, and having eight back-to-back hours of free time is laughable, much less getting a full eight hours of sleep.
And then one of my coworkers tweeted this.
I couldn’t really put my finger on why this bothered me so much at first, but it really got under my skin. And then I realized that it was the sense of entitlement to someone else’s time that was bothering me.
The reality is that we do live in a world of near constant contact- but nearly is the key word here. Things happen. Life happens. Phones die or get lost, we silence them in classrooms, meetings, and in movie theaters, they die shattering pavement-drop deaths. The list could go on. And when that happens, it’s fine- so why do so many people take offense when someone purposefully takes a break?
There’s nothing wrong with taking a break from being constantly connected to everyone, even if that break involves you still being online or even texting. Pinterest is how I unwind after long day of work, and if a friend texts me with gossip right then, I’ll probably ignore it. And they might see that I’m online, and you know what? That’s okay. That’s my time, and I don’t want to have a conversation, I want to read about the delicious looking cake that I will never be motivated enough to make.Similarly I may feel like having a conversation with someone, but not multiple someones. And that’s fine.
Having a mobile device does not mean you immediately have to talk to everyone that wants to talk to you. And yes, if your friend texts you with some kind of emergency, I encourage you to respond. But it’s important to remember that you don’t owe someone your time.
Just because you’re able to have that conversation doesn’t mean you have to, and just because someone is able to contact you doesn’t mean they are entitled to your time and energy for a conversation
The merging of the physical world with our new digital media-heavy reality has melded word’s together; digital native, digital stamp (more on this in a later post!), and more. I propose a new one. Contact entitlement: the idea that because we can contact someone, we are entitled to contact them and expect a response back, regardless of that person’s personal choices at the moment.