Thursday, 9 April 2009


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I ran into a friend of mine the other day. And he asked me if I had heard anything from B, which is a mutual friend which moved abroad for a little while ago. I told him that I hadn’t heard from her for about a month or so, and then added that B wasn’t very good with e-mails. To which he replied that neither was he, and then he giggled. What struck me was that he didn’t seem very apologetic about it, but rather proud. And that got me thinking.

There seem to be more and more people which take pride in their inaccessibility. When internet first started up, everyone wanted to get connected, and everyone who was anyone did have e-mails. And so communication changed, or so we thought. And also, when mobile phones became common, everyone had one, and we took pride in our accessibility. We lived in a world where you could (and would) get contacted everywhere at any time. We wanted people to reach us, and we needed it. To be honest, I still do, when my mobile phone became sick, and it had to go to the mobile phone hospital, I felt amputated, friendless, alone… I couldn’t reach anyone. All my phone numbers were on my mobile, and gone were the days when I knew my friends phone numbers by heart. And no one could contact me. But, I still had my e-mail though.

But lately, more and more often, I notice this trend, that in a world where everyone is accessible all the time, wherever they are, it’s showing status to not be accessible anymore. As my friend, and B… To not have the time to answer e-mails, or write them in the first place, seems to be a sign to the world that one does have a life. And a such exiting life that one does not have the time for so mundane tasks as to write e-mails.

Another friend of mine told me rather proudly how little he used his mobile phone anymore. If people wanted to reach him, he said, they could call him at home and leave a message. So, is this the new answering machine screening strategy? Not even text messages did he reply to, even when he saw them in time. Of course, most of the text messages he got was seen way too late anyway. "You can only ask J" he told me, "and J will tell you how little I use my mobile". And again was I struck by the pride in his voice when he said it.

When mobiles first came out, the phone trend changed from calling to someone’s home, to calling that someone directly. We didn’t want to leave messages, and we didn’t want to talk to someone else than the person we wanted to reach. And so we couldn’t understand how we somehow had managed to exist without all these new communication tools. But, have we now moved on to being too accessible? Is not being reachable 24/7 the new status sign. Instead of being on everyone else’s fingertips at whatever time, do we now require that people do make an effort to reach us, to find us?

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