A few days ago I received a Facebook message from a friend asking if I would like to join him on a boat trip on Sunday after church. Part of me was excited at the prospect of this activity but there was something else on my mind. There was a tiny little voice in my head. The type of little voice that we tend to shut down as soon as we hear it. In this situation, my tiny little voice was telling me that maybe I should keep my Sunday open, as I usually like to relax on Sunday.
So I turned down my iPhone and thought that I would give more thought into it later. But as soon as my hand pulled back from my phone a haunting vision came into my mind. Since Facebook released its new messenger feature a few month ago, people can see when you’ve seen their message. It sure made communication easier, since we can actually see when people see our messages. But the flip side of the coin is that once we see a message, we feel obliged to answer right away if we don’t want to be considered a rude individual. Imagine someone calling a landline – I know nobody use one anymore but remember back in the day – while at the same time being able to watch you on a webcam. Imagine for some reason you don’t want to answer your phone, but your friend can see you hesitating and finally deciding not to pick up the phone. This is exactly what’s happening with Facebook Messenger “message-seen” feature.
I realized at this moment that unplugology consists in teaching people – and ourselves – to lower our expectations about instant communication. Unplugology helps us to rethink the way we do instant messaging. that makes us incapable to mono focus and to reflect on what we do.
So the end of the story is that I decided to honestly tell my friend about my feelings: “Dear Mike, thanks a lot for the offer! I just need more time to reflect on the question. If you’re okay with that, I’d like to give you an answer later.” I believe we should all dare to tell people we need more time to reflect. Just because it is actually true, we do need time to think!