Over the last couple of weeks, I have been making a concerted effort to avoid the online world over the weekend. Yes, this is most definitely a first world problem. What some people wouldn’t give to say, “Oh man, I think I’m really going to challenge myself and not post to Facebook for 2 days.” Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. In addition to deleting my Facebook app just like my pal Kelly Rivard did recently, I also decided to go into my settings and delete some of the notifications tied to some of the apps I use. Being a typical 21st century technology lover and hater, I would occasionally open up those apps just to take a peek. When I did, my iPhone threw a message up into my face. “Please turn on notifications so you can respond as quickly as possible.”
“Well that’s terribly pushy,” I thought at first.
I kept thinking about that message though. Keep your notifications on so that you can reply as fast as possible. So the general understanding these days is that as soon as you get a reply or a like on Facebook, an email, a “like” on Instagram, or any other kind of notification, you are to respond “as fast as possible” no matter what? When did that happen?
I have gotten chastised quite often for feeling like I need to respond right away, especially where work emails are concerned. I could be riding down Highway 101 in California, catch a glimpse of my email inbox, and feel the urge to respond. I have been yelled at countless times by countless people telling me to just let the person wait. “Do you really need to respond now? It can wait. The person and his or her issues will be waiting for you, I promise.” These outcries always make me think twice about what I am doing, but now I am starting to wonder if everybody feels that kind of pressure. Perhaps even more to the point, I’m wondering if notifications, those little red numbers that show up on our phones, are what make us feel that pressure.
How did we get here?
For me, one of the most pressing questions is how notifications have become so controlling so fast. After all, notifications (and smart phones for that matter) are still relatively new. How did we already become so obsessed with responding to them? The site Lifehack.org suggests that checking notifications and finding that you have something there is addictive. Imagine an animal who realizes that every time they push a lever they will get a treat. Not surprisingly, they are going to keep pushing that lever. Humans are much the same way. “Did someone talk to me? They did!” But why do we then need to respond right away? Perhaps it is simply the hope for continued responses, or perhaps we know that since we always have our smart phones with us, people won’t take many excuses seriously if we don’t get back to them. We don’t want to get caught in a lie, as it were.
What do you think about this compulsion to respond to notifications as soon as possible? Is this the way society works now, or is this an unrealistic expectation that we place not only on ourselves but on others? Is this a problem in your life or have you found ways around it? We’d love to hear from you!
Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tzofia/270800047/ via Creative Commons
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