Monday, April 17, 2017

A Very Important, Very Open Letter To Grown Ups With Cell Phones

Dear Grown Ups,

If you're in the plus-40 age group you've probabaly looked at a teenager or young adult, rolled your eyes, and made a comment about 'today's generation'. You've probably also complained about how attached we are to our cell phones, and how we never look up from those screens, and how we have no appreciation for life outside of the virtual world.

Look, I'm a balanced person. I'm not a tech addict in the sense that you mean. I'm barely on social media and to me, the web and all the electronic gadgets which serve as its channels are merely creative and educational tools sometimes used for entertainment. (TBH, as an architecture student, entertainment is working on drawing on AutoCAD while a movie plays in the background or in a much smaller window). I don't count likes, I don't know what people are posting. I'm just a girl who uses technology because she is belong to her generation and has adapted to the world around her. I have a life outside of the web as well, but I often use my phone or laptop to support it. I exercise regularly and use Youtube for guidance and fitness, I read articles about topics that appeal to me, I discover movies and books from all over the world, and to me, my phone and laptop are tools that help me access so much more.

Recently, I asked one of my professors for a recommendation. He was busy and therefore couldn't get right back to me. A few weeks later, I texted him, saying I need the recommendation ASAP. And then, I went out with some friends for three hours. Just three hours.

Unfortunately, my professor called during those two hours. He called me thrice, with a gap of say ten minutes between calls. I missed these calls and called him back 3 hours later, when I was back home. His response was cold. I'll paraphrase what he said- How dare you not pick up my phone when I called? How dare you call back three hours later?

A similar incident happened a year ago. A friend of mine didn't have cell service for a while. His mother started calling his friends to check up on him and I didn't realize it because I was busy doing some very important paperwork at my university. When I called her back, she barely deigned to speak to me till I explained the entire situation to her like I had committed a huge crime.

Grown ups, go back to the time when you were our age. There were no cell phones back then. People managed. It wasn't just cell phones that were absent, it was also the expectation to be heard whenever we had something to say. You didn't expect to call someone at one o' clock in the afternoon and pick up just like that. We were mindful of the right time to call. And we respected that other people, no matter young or old, have their own schedules they need to attend to before catering to us.

I don't spend every waking minute with my phone. In some ways you'd agree that's a good thing. But not when I miss your call or am late in texting you back. How does that make sense? Am I supposed to keep an eye on my phone when I am at a social gathering? When I am walking across a busy intersection? When I'm studying? When I'm charging my phone?

I guess what I am trying to say is that no matter how accessible people become through technology, there will always be boundaries. There will always be the disappointment of calling someone only to have it ring on for a minute. It's nothing to take personally. If they call you back, they're not ignoring you or disrespecting you. They're probably just busy. I think the whole point of being connected through cell phones and all its services is that it enables us to schedule points in time when both parties are free. That's the way life gets easier.

SO next time you call up a kid and they don't answer back right away, don't mind so much. They're busy not being slaves to technology, just like you told them to be.

Yours sincerely,
A 23-year old normal person

P.S.: If they don't call you back, you have every right to mind. Hey, these youngsters can't just get away with everything, okay?