The Tension Of Waiting For A Response

by Joseph Ratliff

Ever since the Internet became popular in 1992, a trend of faster communication began.

Starting with email for the general public (BBS boards for geeks), then moving to instant chat programs, and now to Facebook/Twitter/etc… and beyond…we can communicate much faster than we used to.

And that created the tension.

Whenever we leave a communication for someone else to respond to, in the majority of cases I’ve seen an uncomfortable tension in waiting for a response.

You see, all of the communication tools we now have at our disposal have created a culture where one must respond to these forms of communication as fast as possible (part of the reason why people talk on their cell phones while driving).  This “hurry up” culture that has been created has consequences.

But we aren’t willing to admit it as a culture just yet, although I’m observing the start of the process for improvement (the newest Microsoft phone is advertising “getting it done” to enjoy life).

So, when you send an email, text, or call someone using your cell phone etc… do you feel the “tension” I’m speaking of?

Come on, we all have, it’s an artificial tension created by the fact that we expect the person on the other end of the communication to “be there” and respond to us.

Think about it for a second…

How many times have you wondered where a person was when you called them on the cell phone and they didn’t answer?  And, why couldn’t they be doing something else at that moment (how dare they right)?

There are dozens of examples I can point to here, where we expect the person to be present for our communication on the other end (sending a fax, an email, an instant message etc…).  But I think society needs to adopt a mindset shift here…and it’s quite a big one…

I think we need to learn to control our perception of what technology is doing to us, for us, and what it allows us to truly accomplish.

Or, whenever that familiar “ding” of the email program sounds off, the ring of the cell phone, or the addiction most of us have in checking Facebook etc… happens…we could end up becoming the test subjects in the latest Pavlov’s Dogs experiment (ring the bell, and those dogs salivated for food without food being present).

The phone’s ringing, are you getting it? 🙂