I have been disconnected from the world for nearly five days. That's right, I am without my BlackBerry! Last Saturday while we were camping a torrential downpour (I just like using the phrase 'torrential downpour') occurred and my BlackBerry fizzled out. Since then I've been without not only a phone, but constant email and Internet access. Really and truely, I don't know how I'm functioning.
Actually, quite nicely! Its kind of nice to be disconnected from the world. Instead of feeling the necessity to immediately respond to every email or phone call, I feel like I have a justified cause to take my time in returning correspondance. Now, by taking my time I mean within a few hours, but that is way longer than the usual immediacy a BlackBerry imposes.
Which has gotten me thinking how our communication expectations have changed over the past five years. Five years ago I had voice mail and email in my room only. Thus I could only reasonably be expected to return a message from the point I returned to my dorm. So typically this would be given at least a half-to-full day turn around time. With the increased use of cellphones though not only do I feel the expectations to get back immediately, but be available almost 24/7 to answer the call since my cell should be with me at all times. Now that I have a Blackberry the same is true with email. I had a friend the other day at work that was shocked it took him 45 minutes to get a response back from someone. 45 minutes!
I think your communication expectations are somewhat determined by your technocratic status. People with only landlines have a different set of expectations placed on them then their cellphone counterparts. The same is true between people with email at home as opposed to BlackBerry devices.
This doesn't seem quite fair though. Oh sure, I still have a choice whether or not to respond to work after 5:00 and I have set a rule for myself to not reply unless its an emergency. But at what point do you become accountable for knowledge? At the time you receive it?
I wish life was like the days of Jane Eyre. I remember while reading the book how easy it was for Jane to disappear, and how nice that would be. Jane was completly distraught with her trust and love being violated, and thus she runs out in the middle of the night. No attempts to discover her location prevailed. Because she did not have a cell phone, email, or any other device which is not location specific she had the ability to disappear forever. That really got me thinking about how all of our communication mechanisms have changed the expectations of our relationships.
Ok, well ironically, on this communicative medium known as a blog I'm having a hard time getting my thoughts out. If you want to know more, just call. I'll get back to you in time. :)