Hissy Fit: Answer Me...Now


My cell phone rang and I answered it. In the midst of my conversation, I hear my home telephone line ringing. I ignore it. I have caller ID; I will call them back. As soon as the telephone stops ringing, a call waiting beep comes through on my cell. I ignore it. I hear the home phone ring again. Although distracted, again, I ignore it. My cell call waiting alerts me again. As I say goodbye to the person I was attempting to have a phone conversation with, the home phone rings for the third time in three minutes. This time I answer, “Good Lord, what?”

It is my husband. I explain that I was trying to have a phone conversation with someone in the midst of his calling frenzy. He said, “Oh, well I didn’t know you were talking to someone. I thought you might be in the shower or something.”

Let me process this. Had I been in the shower, should I have gotten out to answer the phone? No. I’m not getting out of the shower to answer the phone. I have come to the conclusion that the world is in overdrive and people need to just chill. As a public service reminder please note: There was a time not long ago when there were no cell phones, no texting and no emails. There wasn’t even call waiting, caller ID or answering machines. AND, we all survived!

I know a guy who was fired for not returning someone’s phone call within an hour. Seriously, one hour. It didn’t matter that he was with another customer for that one hour. What unrealistic expectations are we putting on folks with all of this instant communication that barely equates to communication? Technology may be at the speed of light, but people aren’t.

The truth is, in today’s world of high tech, people are interrupted on average every 11 minutes. Studies have shown it takes 25 minutes to fully refocus on the interrupted task. The task becomes secondary and the texting, emails, etc. become the task.

Before my son went away to college, he would sit in his room to do his homework. In the one to two hours he spent there, he would receive no less than 75 text messages from his friends, and respond to all of them. I’m not sure how he ever graduated, especially with good grades. I should have demanded the phone be turned off.
I feel sorry for our society because it is becoming where nothing is worth turning the phone off for and we give ourselves no down time to retreat. We take the smart phones to the beach, to church, to weddings, to funerals, to school, to work, to parties, everywhere. It’s as though we are always looking—or expecting— something better or more exciting to come through this technology. Or worse yet, constantly expecting something devastating to happen that we need to be informed of immediately.

Like anything good, technology and the rampage it has created must be toned down and used in moderation. Otherwise, we are all going to lose ourselves. In addition, we need to change our expectations of wanting everything right now. Sometimes I get texted at two o’clock in the morning. It’s simply someone up working on the never ending to-do list. That’s great, but I’m trying to sleep, and since my phone is now also my alarm clock, I do not turn it off even to sleep. So the chirping of a new text in the middle of the night wakes me up. It’s madness.

I have to admit, I am guilty of all of the above. I used to be patient until I was able to text someone 1,000 miles away and get a response within three seconds. However, instead of appreciating that awesome technology, it spoiled me. Now, if a text takes more than 10 seconds to send, it irks me. Unbelievable. Who am I? Who are all of us? What have we become? Even scarier…how will we be in the future—attention deficit disorder for everyone?

Now is the time to take your space back. Go to the beach. Breathe in the salt air. Pull out an old-fashioned book and read. Turn off your phone. Start by turning it  off for just five minutes at a time if you can’t bear the thought of missing a text from your son asking for money (Oh, that’s probably just me). Allow your brain to process that there will be no interruptions for five full minutes. It makes a difference. (There was a study that proved people who were expecting an interruption scored 20 percent lower than those who were made to turn their technology off during a test.)

Take a minute to turn it on and check to make sure Ryan Gosling didn’t text you. Now turn it off again. This time try six minutes. It’s scary but I think we will survive. Text me and let me know how it goes.

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