These days we all pretty much use our cellphones for everything. I could probably use my cell phone to iron my dresses shirts, ice a cake, and zip line down a mountain side with the right app.
Texting has become the gold standard of our new, quick-short communication style. Like instant oatmeal, there’s less cooking time required. Tear open an envelope, pour in bowl, add water and microwave for 90 seconds. I use the Trader Joe’s Organic Oats with Brown Sugar. It’s not too heavy on the sweet, only 6 grams per serving. Perfect for this recovering sugar addict.
Like instant oatmeal, texting is instant talk. Why talk when you can text! Newly pregnant? Text your friends. About to walk out on your twenty year marriage? Text it. “Bu-bye. I took the kids. You can keep that pesky parakeet.”
Texting brings communication to new heights. I’d go so far as to say texting makes actual conversations passé. Now I can express myself and all my varied thoughts and feelings much more clearly via my collection of personalized emoticons. Some of us even use large look-alike cartoon caricatures to express ourselves. These cartoon characters usually have one clear message like, “Happy Birthday!” Or “Oh, Shit!” Who needs real people singing “Happy Birthday,” or an actual shoulder to cry on when your mother dies? It’s just too messy, and it requires dry cleaning bill.
Texting, text icons, and even sexting are how we roll today. Real, actual, live sex is, at this point, just weird.
Every new technology has its pluses and minuses, its light and dark. Texting allows a quick connection, where perhaps, there was none. And it creates a general tone and nature to our communications which over time can build a distance between people and lessen our level of intimacy.
In this new world of texting, I believe there’s a need for text-i-quette: etiquette for texting. I’m by no means a tech expert, nor Emily Post, but to the extent I understand human behavior, I’m aware there are some ground rules we need to set up in order to more clearly understand each other via our cellular devices. So here’s some text etiquette from me to you. Take it or leave it, but know texting has consequences.
To start, please don’t deliver important news, like telling me you’re pregnant, via text. You’re only going to get my initial reaction of pure, ecstatic, jump up and down joy once. Same with an engagement, or job promotion. And if we’re going to break up after a year of dating, let’s have the balls to do it in person. We’ll both need the closure, not to mention our toothbrushes, spare undies and socks. But actually, I just remembered, you don’t actually have balls. Still, no reason not to break up in person. You’ll need the story to text your best friend, which is a huge part of why we have to break up to begin with – you spend more time living in your virtual world than the real one.
But I digress.
Texting is not a reason for anyone to expect an instant response. I don’t take my phone into the bathroom. Trust me, no one needs to hear that. Texting does not trump a live and current conversation, though I know there are times when we mistakenly go there. Texting does not trump a date, sex, or a weekend get-a-way. Texting does not paint a clear picture so know there are more details we’ll need to talk about in a live conversation, and maybe even in person. Gasp. Texting does not work well in walkways, on a bicycle, mixed with driving, or while you and I are talking to one another.
Do text me your ETA if you’re running late. Text me contact info. Text me the name of that book you recommended. Text me a photo you took from our day at the beach. Text me an inspirational quote to uplift my spirit. And I even appreciate an “I love you” text. Very sweet. Though don’t get carried away.
I may or may not respond to your text. Don’t take it personally. I’ve also got a ringing cell phone, four email accounts, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Facebook IM, Google Plus, a blog, YouTube channel, and yes, an actual physical mailbox for my home. Also, I do need to sleep.
Hopefully you’ve found my #blog #useful. If not, that’s just one less text you’ll need to send. But if you did like it, please text all your friends, cause the best use of your texting abilities would be to spread the word on #textiquette. We might just be saving the world, one text at a time.
Barry Alden Clark has coached thousands of individuals in connecting more deeply with their hearts, their life purpose, and helped create a pathway for these folks to move forward in a direction more aligned with who the truly are. He & his creative partner Eliza Swords are currently delivering uplifting content on social media every Wednesday via “Best Day Ever with Barry and Eliza”, a Facebook and You-Tube phenomenon reaching thousands of people around the world. They are also inspiring love and joy through creating heartfelt and entertaining content via their production company Pure Honey Ink. Currently they have projects in development for social media, film, television and publishing. You can reach Barry at www.barryaldenclark.com.
For me, freedom is a state of mind. It’s a place in our consciousness that’s as natural as our breath. But for most of us, our internal freedom is boxed in to some extent, giving us ample opportunity for pain, suffering, and ultimately for learning should we choose that orientation to life.
Freedom is a lot like a garden. Not only must we tend to it, planting seeds, watering, and pulling out the weeds, we also have to work with the various elements that affect a crop such as rain, sun, animals, and sometimes frost. The external elements can damage a crop, but really, growth never stops. It may be affected by slowing down the growth, or by yielding less, but the life of each seed, and the entelechy of each human being pushes both to their fullest expression, accounting of course for all those external variables both plants and humans will encounter.
Those of us working in the social sciences – clinical psychology, social work, therapy, and coaching, have one major common goal which is to assist clients in becoming their most fully expressed selves. Those of us working integratively know we cannot leave out the spiritual part of ourselves. And it is exactly the spiritual part that assists in opening up the consciousness of freedom, and the fuller expression of that deepest part of who we truly are.
How, though, can we create more freedom for ourselves? Where we are in our consciousness and where we are physically on this planet has a lot to do with our internal state of freedom. Based on our belief system, the way we were raised and programmed by our parents, culture, religion, and country, all play a large part in our personal definition of freedom or lack thereof.
I have lived in so many boxes. The good kid box, the heterosexual box, the good employee box, and here’s the kicker, while these boxes come pre-made in our culture, I am the one that ultimately chooses which box I’m gonna stick myself in. I know, this part sucks, because I have to admit to myself it really is a choice, past the pre-programming, and then I have to take 100% responsibility and completely rewrite my own personal narrative. Cue the Betty Ford Clinic. Shit. Seriously, it takes work and commitment. I‘ve had to keep my eye on the prize. The world we all live in has a negative polarity. But really, if we can begin to work at changing our thoughts and the actions that follow we begin to create an authentic space we actually want to live in and in which we actually feel free, not boxed in.
The best example of this I can think of is from Victor Frankl. Almost everyone I’ve read or trained with uses Frankl’s story because it’s deep. While imprisoned by the Nazi’s in a concentration camp during World War II, Frankl realized he had a choice as to how he thought about where he was. Were the conditions atrocious? Absolutely. Were the crimes being committed among the most horrible in human history? Without a doubt. And still, Frankl chose to hold a loving, positive focus despite the abhorrent and inhumane circumstances. He was in the worst imaginable box and yet was able to create a sense of freedom for himself which eventually manifest in his being freed in the physical.
This example for me teaches something so important, we have to believe, even when it looks like all odds are against us. For me, that’s the best way to work with negativity. You have to be stronger than it is, and more persistence. Persistence is one hell of great quality to nurture in your consciousness. It’s one of my favorite. But be prepared, the minute you call it up you will be tested, continually. I recommend making a nice cool beverage. I like to mix cranberry juice and San Pellegrino over rocks in my adult sippy cup. Okay, sometimes I use vodka. Whatever your mixer, enjoy the ride. And like Bette Davis said, “Fasten your seat belts, you’re in for a bumpy ride!”
And isn’t the ride why we’re all here to begin with? Life’s a journey for all of us, and finding freedom, or creating it is a huge part of the process of living. I believe our need for freedom is hardwired into our consciousness, a part of our entelechy for who we are in this lifetime. And the degree to which we experience the sense or feeling of freedom is the degree to which we’re aligned and on point with our life purpose. Feeling stuck in your current work, relationship, or physical state? This lack of alignment and feeling of freedom is your indicator that more work and exploration are in order to create a greater level of feeling and more experiences of freedom in your life. Lucky for us we have to have it, so that need usually pushes us forward in the direction of where we want to head and what we want to experience.
For years I wrote – scripts, journals, essays, lyrics, poems, and reports – much of my writings were work and academic requirements – and always I felt a very clear internal push to write more. The writing I did for work and academia felt stilted at times, and I felt boxed into a form of writing that was required of me. It did teach me a great deal about structure, content, organization, and producing for deadlines – all great training and experience for a writer. It supported my life as well with paychecks and degrees, but always there was this underlying need for a more creative expression with my writing. And it was the discomfort that pushed me forward, often times in a painful way, to really define my expression creatively. Thankfully, I honored this ongoing inner push, often times against great odds, and continually sought my own creative expression, and bit by bit, or “bird by bird” as well-known author and writing guru Anne Lamott says, I was able to find more and more freedom, a clearer path to travel, and a fuller expression of my life purpose. I listened. I followed. I found freedom. You can, too. Take action. Free yourself. And enjoy.
Technology is like an unruly child. Who will take a stand to discipline this wild horse? Somehow it seems to me that the ever expanding realm of technology is the pink elephant in the room. I love technology. It fascinates me, and at the same time can cripple me. Isn’t that like being in an abusive relationship? Isn’t there something alarming about anything that “cripples” us or takes us over? Alright, I’m being a little dramatic here, but technology and how we use it really has taken over. I’m not a big fan of right or wrong scenarios, but rather a different paradigm in thinking which is more about a learning opportunity. Okay, so technology cripples me at times. The question then becomes what do I do with this paralysis?
Technology has, for the most part, made every part of our lives better. Electric cars help preserve our fossil fuels, cell phones and Skype allow us to connect with our loved ones around the world, and medical advances both improve and often extend our lifespans.
But, and this is a big but Becky, now technology allows us to carry our work computers home via our laptops. We always have one cell phone on us so we can receive work or personal calls everywhere we go, including bed and the bathroom. You know you’ve heard this scenario. You’re in a bathroom stall and the person next to you is on the phone. First, I don’t want to hear anything that’s happening in the stall next to me, up to and including someone’s phone conversation. Shut up/Get a room! We have texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any number of new technologies that will birth themselves in our lifetime still to come.
But of everything we receive, emails are the worst. Whether at home or work, emails are rampant. There are literally like a virus, they keep spreading and there’s no antibiotic that will stop them.
I’m old enough to have lived in a time without emails. There was a lot of paper used, but not nearly as much back and forth. It was a more clear and concise time for communicating, and something I strive to practice in my Facebook and email ecology. Less is more. I was a casting assistant at that time, and people actually talked to one another. It was the call that was key, not the email.
So here’s what I find happening with emails – they’re like one live conversation broken down over an extended time frame. If I wanted to handle something in a timely fashion I call. Communications of a business nature usually require a bit of exploration or questioning for clarification. One phone call can handle it. Emails have a tendency to go back and forth, and both parties usually get tired of typing. Oh, you know yourself, this happens all the time. Just when you think you’ve typed the last word another question. The big difference as I see it is there’s an extra step in email communication. You have to press send, and then you wait. If the office hottie walks by the person you’re emailing, games off. You could be waiting a long time before the attention is directed back at you. The same thing with a child, a spill, the UPS man. All will trump the email. Not on a phone call. The live conversation trumps email.
Also, emails require Japanese like gardening maintenance skills. You have to stay on top of them, or they grow like weeds. Eventually you’ll need a machete to cut through the overgrowth. You know how it goes, suddenly you have 4,000 emails in your Inbox and you have to call the National Guard for assistance. Yes, it’s a national emergency, but no one seems to be answering the call.
And every time a company asks me for my email I have to be damn sure I want to have an intimate relationship with them. The Gap, Starbucks, and Harry & David, know more about me than my internist. And they’re on my laptop, cell phone, and in my consciousness on a daily basis, until I break down staring at my computer screen trying to find the unsubscribe bottom which is camouflaged to keep me from ending this unsatisfying, one way relationship.
Think about it. It’s completely one sided. Harry & David are not two hot guys fighting over my love, no, they want my daily attention and whatever’s in my wallet. Oh, sure, they have delicious chocolate covered nuts, but they’re expensive. A fifty dollar bill at the minimum, and they tell me it’s for a good cause – my mother needs a basket of fresh fruit and candy, she is, after all, my mother. Starbucks tells me I can earn a star with each blended beverage of my choice this week between the hours of 2-5 PM. I’m just going to leave work, I need the stars.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I love my Starbucks, and my Harry and David. Starbucks even rewards me with free lattes and Harry and David are so generous with their $10 off my next purchase. But wouldn’t I shop at both places regardless? That’s a part of my question here about technology. I’ve got to advocate for less is more. I still use the same paper towels I was raised with. I haven’t seen a Bounty ad in years, but I still buy them. Yes, they are the quicker picker upper, and I learned that via a great advertising campaign years ago, but I don’t get emails.
My experience with technology is that when it happens, we jump for it, overuse it, level out, and eventually it finds its rightful place in our lives, usually. And we have to keep our eyes open at all times, because like a child, technology requires tending and loving discipline, otherwise it becomes unruly. Personally, I’ve found my rhythm with emails and my mainframe computer cell phone, but just as soon as that happens another piece of technology is birthed. For now, I’ll simply turn my ringer on silence, choose an out-of-office reply for emails, and pretend, for a moment, I’m Amish.