Words by: Coby Renkin Art by: Jessie Liu
An open letter to anyone overwhelmed by the need they feel to be constantly accessible.
Yes you, reading this on a screen as your phone sits nearby, a mere vessel for messages from those you know (and sometimes, those you don’t), hassling you for answers you may not yet be ready to give.
You know what the funny thing about that is? That’s okay. In case you’ve forgotten lately, it’s okay to want space from your device and the endless possibilities for connection that it carries.
In case you’ve forgotten, you did not sign a contract upon purchase of said device to be constantly accessible to the world around you. And the notion that you should be is both unrealistic and unnecessary.
It is simply unrealistic that you be available and within only an arm’s reach of your phone at all hours of the day. You might have a job, a family, you might be sick, the list is endless. But also, sometimes you just might not be in the mood to converse through a pocket-sized screen as you go about your life. And guess what, that’s okay too.
Just because you can be reachable around the clock doesn’t mean you should be. The idea that you should be is built on the fact that it’s possible, and if you’re being honest with your- self, that’s not a very good reason. As a society, we seem to have convinced ourselves that we owe each other, and equally are entitled access to one another’s lives from a distance.
We’ve all done it before: tried to contact someone through one platform and used their lack of response in the following five minutes as reason to contact them on another. Why do we do that? We know that if they could and they wanted to respond, they would. Why do we think we are so absolutely entitled to their time that we should pester them for it? If we’re pestering them, maybe we’re not actually all that deserving?
If you think about a time before modern-day technology, this behaviour would be consid- ered wrong and completely inappropriate. If in the space of two hours you left a voicemail and never received a response, followed it with an email to no avail, and decided that you would then show up at the person’s house, all because you needed advice on what shirt to wear to your dinner date two weeks from now, the person on the receiving end of all your efforts would likely be left feeling more violated than appreciated.
It seems extreme but when thought about simply, it’s not all that different.
Look, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed by the constant buzzing in your pocket or the dinging of your device. It’s okay to ignore that DM until you have the mental energy to respond to it. And it’s okay to set boundaries with the people in your life when it comes to your availability.
Start prioritising your self care over the ill-informed expectations of the often-too-connected world around you.
Have your downtime. Own your space. Don’t apologise for it.
Yours sincerely, Twenty-First Century Tired.