What am I talking about? I’m talking, all right, writing, about the various forms of electronic bombardment that most of us endure, enjoy, and/or utilize, the email, the texts, and the phone calls. Among all of it are a relatively small number of needed, useful communications. Most are advertisements, spam, useless, or, at best, simply unnecessary. This is the story of my personal battle in this particular decluttering challenge.
The assignment is on decluttering, intended to be about attempts we have made to remove excess items, ‘things,’ from our homes. Most of us have attempted decluttering in the past, moving books or unwanted, usable clothing, kitchen accessories and more from us to others, via various middle-men, such as libraries, yard sales, used goods stores and more. That story for me would be many tales of failure, so I am not even going to begin. However, I do have another tale of decluttering, but instead of ‘thing’ decluttering, it will be about electronic decluttering.
First, I need to provide you with a bit of my relevant personal history. During another lifetime in an earlier century, in the 90’s, I was the national technology support manager for an international corporation. I was among those paid to be on top of the latest technology, always encouraging others to move to the newest technology platform, updating software and hardware. I loved my work and couldn’t believe that I was paid to work with the newest technology toys. Cell phones were not generally in use then. I carried a pager and was expected to be available whenever needed. That was then; this is now.
After I left that work, for a few years, I remained plugged in, connected to technology. I can’t pinpoint when that changed, but I continue to think of cell phones as useful for emergencies, not for everyday phone calls. My landline is my primary form of telephone communication and I only changed from a flip phone to a smartphone a month ago.
I dislike it when people interrupt an in-person conversation to answer their cell or even to check it, to see if the caller is more important than me. It’s not because I think I’m the most important person on the planet, but really, how many calls are so critical that they can’t wait until a social gathering has ended.
And texting, let me tell you what I think about texting! Perhaps you can guess. One of the reasons I maintained a flip phone until last month when I was forced to upgrade because my cell provider upgraded to G4 and G5 was because it allowed me to say to friends, “Sorry, I don’t text; I only have a flip phone.”
I understand on-call physicians and critical support personnel being required to be immediately accessible; I do not understand that requirement for the average person. Does it make people feel important knowing that someone else wants immediate attention or a response? Having a short-term attention span is not an asset. Yes, we all have occasions when it’s an advantage or a benefit to respond immediately, but far more often, we benefit from sustained attention, a quality increasingly uncommon.
Back to the topic at hand, decluttering. I have decluttered my life by avoiding texts, although, confession, I have practiced texting with my son, to make sure I know the basics. My land line is still my primary phone line. I check my cell every day or so, so it’s a poor method to reach me quickly. In fact, I never answer my cell, as I consider it for making calls for my own convenience, not for the convenience of others.
Reasons to declutter ‘things’ include simplifying your life, as well as making usable goods available to others, both admirable objectives and I especially appreciate the second. The time that I spend decluttering electronically, the daily sorting of email into either trash, interesting, or something that invites action cuts into time when I could be decluttering ‘things.’ So, that’s my excuse for not decluttering ‘things.’
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