Some 19 months ago I decided to turn off all chat functions of gmail.
I don’t get to see who is “on” and people from my address book don’t get to see the dot advertising my availability.
Why did I do that?
Well, I did not like the feeling that people were contacting me by pure opportunity. That we are conversing because of pure chance of my dot being green and that my time is being used as a filler because of someone else’s boredom. As this was something that bothered me I first took out a trial period in which I only made myself “invisible” and when that confirmed my hypothesis that “out of sight is out of mind” since no whatayodoin’ e-mails came during that period I took the leap and turned the availability banner off.
I like to think of my communication habits as one stemming from interest. When I wish to speak (correspond/converse/interact) with someone I wish to do so with particular person and about particular topic or field at which I consider that particular person to be an expert or valuable opinion holder. Some people give good money advice, some are well versed in music issues, with some I share skill or proclivity and some are exquisite “devil’s advocates” that find downsides even to most glorious deals. Some of them are wonderful people that emote and share in a way that one feels honored to spend time in their presence.
I find their expertise precious and their willingness to share it a gift. To waste anybody’s time by demeaning their worth using them as a prop to pass the time feels plain wrong.
So what did I get by going through with this change?
Well, I got the realization just how much of people that surround me will not be contacting me anymore. That is profoundly awakening fact. I learned that even the idea of “choice” in this issue - of consciously removing oneself out of the white noise of undirected traffic - is unheard of, strange and repulsing to some people. That some people fear that they will be forgotten (what basically does that say about their relationships if being available around the clock is prerequisite for interaction?).
I also learned who will contact me and how kind and caring people can be, in addition to their fields of expertise. I learned that it is much easier to be attentive to own and other people’s states and needs if you’re not drowning in a flood of dopamine.
It is not strange now to see several e-mails from friends or people still unknown a week and for that e-mails to be full of substance and emotion so I have to think a day or two of what do I write back. It gives me the feeling of conversing in “snail mail” and waiting for a mailman that I still remember brought great joy. People sometimes contact me to tell me they loved my post or that they would like an advice on knitting or clinical trials or movie or want to discuss divorce or some other thing I made public here in this blog and I never ever feel like we’re wasting each other’s time.
It just brings great joy.