Have we become less available?


My generation grew up when landline was not for everyone and where there certainly where no mobile phones. The ringing sound of the landline phone would make me jump up and run to what today would be labeled a pre-historic black telephone apparatus. There was no question as to whether we would answer the phone, of course we did! It was even kind of exciting. Those were the innocent times of communication. Then came the mobile phone and for most of us this represented a revolution, and something changed. Not only were we available any place at any time – we could also see who was calling. That made it easier to postpone certain phone calls if we were short of time or simply did not feel for talking. Despite being 100% reachable, have we nevertheless become more less availableunavailable over the past years? 

Perhaps we have not become more unavailable only more selective when it comes to who we talk to and when. Clearly sometimes we do not feel for talking and we make silent apologies to ourselves that we will call back later. I am sure that not even the busiest person needs to be available absolutely all the time. At some point came a public acknowledgment that at certain times and at certain places, we were not available anymore. We got signs prohibiting use of cell phones at certain places. That has in part limited our availability, but still most of the time we remain available. Does this “all-around-the-clock-availability” make us wanting to become less available?

I know it’s wrong to answer a question with a question, but I’ll do it anyway; do we really need to be available all the time? One can for instance be honest when returning the phone call and say ‘listen – I am sorry I did not pick up the phone, but I simply did not feel for talking’. A good friend will accept that – I know because I tried it out. Insofar as you most of times pick up the phone when friends are calling you there is nothing wrong with avoiding answering once in a while. Alternatively turn your cell-phone off. No, too risky, isn’t it because what if someone called and the phone did not register it due to being turned off?

So here we go again. We want to and we do not want to be available at all times. Sometimes you do not feel for picking up the phone but at the same time, you do not want to miss out on anything – important or not. Alternatively, you could turn your mobile device on silent. You do have to check all the time if someone called, but the missing intense ringing tone when you choose not to answer whoever is calling will make you feel less bad about yourself. How silly really, as if we are not allowed to choose when to talk and with whom. We have this discussion why? Probably because we all, to a greater or less extent, are slaves of modern days’ communication equipment, which in the end means being available.



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