Electronic Etiquette and Seasons.

Just as you know that there are only so many seasons in a year, there are also only so many summers in your lifetime. How many summers do you think you’ll get to enjoy in one lifetime? I’m fifty-six now, which means I’ve only seen fifty-six summers. Only thirty-six of those were as an adult. So, when you put that into context with your phone/text/email/internet life, what’s more important too you? Enjoying your summer? Or spending all of it on the phone?

The rules around etiquette are changing. As a society, we all need to be careful about what’s acceptable and what is not.

Back in the day before mobile phones, there was usually only one phone in the home. It was fixed to a wall or sat on top of a telephone table. The telephone table generally held the local phone book, yellow pages, notepad and pens and pencils. There were even instances of homes that didn’t have a phone at all. At one point, there were also no answering machines. So if someone rang, you were completely oblivious to the fact, until you met up with that person, or a letter arrived informing you.

Public phone booths dotted the landscape and were a common piece of hardware in every shopping centre. These were for making calls though, not accepting them.

There were no mobile phones, just as there were no text messages, emails or internet.

In those days, one would plan in advance where to meet up with friends or family prior to the day.

If you rang someone’s home, and they weren’t there, the phone would just ring out. You also didn’t know they had called, therefore you couldn’t call them back.

No one had a mental failure at the fact that you didn’t return their call. People today tend to forget this.

What our current society needs to understand is that just because you have a phone, you do not have to answer it. I know – shocking piece of information right there.

If the person ringing wants to chat – that’s nice, but what if you don’t want too? Likewise, if you call someone, and they don’t want to chat right there and then, respect their wish. Leave a message if you must, but unless someone is dying, or bleeding to death and they have to be involved, leave them the hell alone. You can tell them later, surely?

We need to remember, we are not slaves to our phones. We are also not slaves to the person that is calling.

If it’s important they will call you back, or even leave a message if you have that switched on. The caller also has a choice to send you a text message or an email these days if they so desire.

Which brings me to emails. Emails are just electronic mail. That’s all it is. If someone had written you a letter, then posted it, and it was then delivered to your postal address – how long would it be before you opened and read it. How long would it also take to reply – if replying was something that you felt you needed to do?

The point I’m trying to make here is the same point I’m trying to make with your phone calls.

Put your phone on silent more often. Don’t be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. It’s not a requirement for life. With your head down, you’re missing out on so much around you. Choose your time wisely.

In an aside, I have a friend who, on her birthday just does not answer her phone. She takes a day off from everything and has what she calls, ‘me time’. She lives far away from her family and friends and we all know that she does this on her birthday. Yet we all still call her.

I’m aware of some people being a little shocked by this. “But it’s her birthday and I want to wish her well.”

Yeah? And? The salient point here, is you’re right – it is her birthday, and she has decided that for that one day of the year she’s going to do what she wants. It doesn’t mean that she loves anyone any less or any more.

Do I still ring her? Of course I do. I ring both her home phone and her mobile… just in case she wants to chat. Yet I’m completely okay with her not picking up. I respect that these are her wishes. I also know that she will see that she has a missed call on her phone, and know that I rang.

Choose your seasons and spend them well.

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