Why won’t they call me back?!
I listen to people say how frustrated they
get with “young people today” who don’t answer
their cell phones, don’t return voice messages,
or emails, sometimes (gasp) not even texts…
texting being the most reliable means of
communicating with an under 25-something.
They see this as disrespectful, lazy, rude…
all these negatives and pejoratives.
But it got me to thinking how maybe
what they’re doing isn’t such a bad thing.
You’re HOW old?!
Indulge me for a moment in a trip
down technology memory lane…
I promise I didn’t walk 5 miles to school
barefoot in the snow, uphill. 🙂
But ranking right up there,
I grew up as a kid in the 70s and 80s.
My family had a television. I was the remote.
My family had telephones They had cords.
One could stretch down the hallway so you
could maybe get a little privacy on a call.
I was a teenager before we had an
answering machine for our phone.
There was no caller ID.
I know…right? We were so out of touch.
Then We Became
Once we got the answering machine,
Before the machine, if someone tried
to reach you when you were not at home…
You never even knew they were trying to reach you.
Once they could leave a message, there was
this automatically implied obligation
that you return the phone call.
No one asked if you wanted to…you just did.
Then came pagers. I had one on my first job.
No one asked if I wanted to make the phone
call to respond when the pager went off.
You just had to.
Next up, cell phones.
No one asked if you wanted to answer
the phone wherever you were when it
went off, or if you wanted to return a
voice message. We just did.
Then Came Texting
By and large, it is younger people who
have led the texting revolution…
my 10-year-old taught me how to text..
but I believe they are leading the charge
for a much bigger revolution than that.
Texting allows you to be in complete
control of when you communicate,
if you are going to respond, and when.
Yes, it can be “impersonal,” but you also
don’t get hung up trying to get off the phone
with someone who is draining your time.
Younger people won’t respond to an
actual call or voice mail…you have to
text them or tweet them or ping them.
Then they decide if/when to get back to you.
I don’t have to!
Having control over if they want to respond,
when they will respond, and how they will respond
is power. Personal power. There is no feeling
of being obliged to respond when you want them
to. There is no feeling of having to give of their
time and energy unless they want to.
A New Work Ethic
And there’s a new work ethic that goes along
with this, too…younger people are not as likely
to follow in the footsteps of their workaholic,
working overtime, working on weekends,
work ethic of their parents and grandparents.
Their great-grandparents (often just their
Grandfather) went to work from 9-5 for a
company or organization for life, who had
a pension set up for his retirement.
Their parents and grandparents have not
had that luxury. They have often had both
parental units working, often long hours with
little to no compensation other than a little
more money in a paycheck.
They have had a lot of things, but they have
also done without much that matters.
They have watched these companies use their
parents up, burn them out, and then lay them off,
or leave them in retirement woefully underfunded.
Thanks, but No Thanks
Younger people are saying thanks, but I’d
rather give 110% when I’m at work between
the normal business hours of 9-5.
After that, it’s my time.
It’s my family’s time.
It’s not your time.
It’s not that you are not important.
But your emails are not AS important.
Your phone calls are not AS important.
Your voice mails are not AS important.
They are not AS important as having a life.
So if you really need to get in touch
with someone under the age of 25…
throw them a text.
They might just text you back.
But don’t hold your breath…
in fact, why not go do something
while you’re waiting instead?
Maybe something even more important.