[philosophizing and lecturing]
Lately I’ve heard a lot of my peers complain about social media, mobile phones, texting, instant email and the perceived burden and imposition of being reachable 24 hours a day. They don’t understand the benefits, or they “don’t want their worlds to mix.” They either choose not to participate or only do what they absolutely must in order to sustain their businesses and they do it begrudgingly. They say curmudgeonly things like, “I don’t get this whole Facebook [or Twitter] thing.” or “Why does everyone walk around typing on their phones? They’re missing out on life.” or “I don’t want to be available 24/7.”
The thing is, your unwillingness to understand or embrace the new world of connectivity means you are the ones missing out on life. There is an entirely new layer of communication going on and you’re missing all of it. It’s one thing to put the phone down so you can spend time with your kids or your spouse. It’s another to reject social networking all together. My friends who refuse to participate on Facebook miss parts of my life as they happen. They miss the opportunity to converse with me about it, laugh with me about it, or sigh with me about it. I miss out on parts of their life and the opportunity to converse or joke or laugh with them about it.
Part of being connected means learning to set boundaries and learning to say no unapologetically or without offering a reason. If someone texts me and wants something and I can’t or don’t want to give it at the moment then I have to say exactly that. “I can’t right now.” No explanations. No apologies. Just a boundary. But here’s the great thing about that: When you can or want to do something, they know you really mean it, that you really do want to. They will know you’re sincere. No more resentment. People who do things and then resent it later are only hurting themselves, their emotional health, and their relationships. Resentment is not invisible, people can see it, feel it pulsating in you no matter how hard you try to hide your feelings.
I wonder if people are afraid to be “connected” because they are afraid to own themselves, afraid to stand up and say no. I’m not talking about saying no to connectivity, I’m talking about saying no with diplomacy to a human being, to someone’s face or phone or email. There is nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t want to do that.” If someone presses on, pushes you for an explanation, don’t answer. Ask them why the reason is important. Ask them if they want to know because they want to judge your reason. They probably do (unknowingly), and they probably will back off once you ask that question. Don’t let them judge your reason. It doesn’t matter why you can’t or don’t want to. It only matters that they respect your ability to make your own choices, and they will, if you say it with love. Love for yourself, love for them. How is saying “No” loving someone? Because you are letting them get to know your authentic self, and you build sincerity.
You have to learn to live openly if you want to embrace the new connected world. Be yourself. Let your freak flag fly. Adapt. Adaptability is a major component of intelligence. When you stop adapting, a part of you you stops growing intellectually. When you stop growing, you start dying. This is what makes people old, not wrinkles or age spots. It’s a state of mind. They stop adapting, stop learning. They sit around watching TV and
relax wait to die. Adapt or go straight to the grave. Adapt or go extinct. This is why we’re attracted to some older people and not others. The ones who are interesting are the people who’ve adapted, who’ve embraced change and who learn from it. They are not the crotchety old people who walk around saying things like, “Why do people do [insert anything new and interesting], in my day we just [insert anything outdated].” If you ever catch yourself saying that, you’ve chosen to be old, you’ve chosen to slide brain first straight into your own grave.