I love technology.
I hate technology.
If this blog is late posting today, it’s because yesterday the cable service to the office and my house experienced technical difficulty. The difficulty is an “area outage” which is code for “something really important broke and we don’t have a spare part for that because they really don’t break that often and until we can get one in here, you and a whole slew of other people and businesses have an area outage.”
But only some of the time. For some things. I can send small emails and use Skype. But I can’t send emails with attachments or load webpages. (i.e. go online to post my blog)
My whole life depends on my connection to the internet, to the outside world. Why does that connection always break at the worst possible time? Or is that just my perception because there is always a deadline drumming its fingers with me two steps ahead of its snapping jaws? Is it that there are always requests that need immediate response, research to be done, trades to be read, etc.? The “next thing” always seems to require the use of the internet in some way.
Is the technology that makes us so much more efficient, so much more informed, also the taskmaster that digs holes and buries us? Does the internet and our availability to others through the wonders of electronic communication increase the expectations of others and put extra pressure on the “communication transaction?”
Lately, I’ve wondered if I must rethink my loyalties. My loyalty isn’t to my inbox. Just because someone can reach my inbox doesn’t mean I owe them a response. Recently someone, who I rejected with a lovely letter containing feedback regarding the project’s problems, responded to the rejection with a request practically begging me to reconsider and tell them what they could do to get me to change my mind. I stared at the email for several minutes before hitting delete. I’d already told them, in plain English, what the problems were and given them a decision. I didn’t owe them another response. (No, it’s not a writing team, but “them” hides the gender.)
Nor do I owe a response to aspiring writers who want quick, free email advice and know how to find my contact info on my website. “Hello. I’m a young writer you don’t know, and I want to know how to get published. Can you help me? Because I really don’t want to do the work and the research or even try to find a local writing group.”
As much as it pains me, bothers me, and disappoints me…I am now deleting when I have deadlines and other responsibilities that need my attention or don’t have that three minutes (usually more like five minutes because I can’t answer and not “answer.”). Each time I’ll hit delete faster, hopefully with less guilt. I am no longer a slave to my inbox.
I’m putting my foot down. I work the technology; it does not work me. Delete is a perfectly acceptable solution to unsolicited communication that expects me to focus on it instead of those to whom I have responsibilities or real personal connections. “No” is a complete sentence.
Now I just have to stick to my guns before my polite Southern roots betray me again, whispering that I’m a bad person.