Recently I made some new acquaintances at a party. And while swapping contact information I said that it is easy to find me. Just google my name, and, I am there on my website. Just email me there. I saw the ladies again at another get-together. I was comfortable enough that I was keen to meet them for a girls’ night out. And I said that the best way to get a reply from me is via an email.
A few days later, I received unknown group-chatter on WhatsApp. It seems that probably somewhere in my earlier drunken state, I’d shared my mobile number with my new pals. On WhatsApp, while planning a mutual time, there was a pun about writing comments on my website, as if, I don’t know how to reply on WhatsApp. I let it slide. Things happen. Statements get misconstrued.
I met some of the ladies for drinks, and, I had a lovely time. It was a smooth flow of conversation and I was keen to meet them again. On WhatsApp, the group discussed to meet again. And there, somewhere in the thirty-or-so-messages were another snide statement stating that I needed to be contacted via an email, again, as if, I don’t know how to navigate WhatsApp. And this came from a woman with whom I connected most in the group. In my head, I’d taken her under my wing. (Yep, I can see my therapists and husband shaking their heads disapprovingly.) Her statement, which she later stated was a joke, cut me deep.
My knee jerk reaction was to list my accomplishments, recount the number of software I have taught myself, and, take a picture of my biceps-triceps-and-lats in a two-piece swimsuit and post it in the group chat with the headline “This is my old age”. But then that is not me. I don’t like being an asshole.
I needed to understand why these ladies made such comments about my use of emails. Did I say that I don’t use social-media? I didn’t. I had said that I reply to my email way sooner than I reply to anything on WhatsApp.
Usually, emails have substance and social-media friend-messages are all fluff, which I read and immediately forget. I don’t reply to WhatsApp messages right away, as I don’t have the time and inclination. I am not going to stop doing whatever I am doing to satisfy others need for getting a mundane answer instantly. And I am too stubborn to operate on anybody’s schedule. And, seriously, what’s the hurry? Frankly, if you ever want me to bail you out, don’t WhatsApp me as I will ignore it for days, best pick up the phone and call me. Yes, I admit, I am a monk with this whole connectivity thing. I will open my eyes when I want to. Not because there is a notification light blinking crazily on my smartphone, and my screen says there are fifty messages.
Now to go back to what I’d told the group, what if I’d said that I don’t use social-media. Was it a reason enough to shame me? We are not in high-school where I need to toe the line so others would sit with me. I am a grown ass individual dealing with adults. I say what I need to and expect the same from others. Isn’t that the advantage of not being a teenager? These days I find that the society is so busy sharing and connecting that it has forgotten the basic decencies of humanity. Don’t shun people who are different from you. Embrace them. Celebrate them. That is what makes this world beautiful. And if you can’t, walk away.
Then I wondered if my new pals were making digs at my age. I am not that older than them. Probably I am way older than one of them, but not all. BTW, two of my best-friend are almost a generation older than me. I never age-shamed them. Never, Ever. But then, what is the measurement of old age? Is it when my brains don’t work or my body doesn’t work? Or, nowadays, we are measuring old age on how quickly one replies to their messages? So, is a person younger if they connect and share and reply 24/7 on social-media, but wheezes when going up a flight of stairs?
This whole kerfuffle had made me realize who I am and who I want to be. When I go to a concert, I watch, I participate. I just don’t have a sense of urgency to share. I did it once, sharing it during an event, but the event was so terrible that I left it midway. I doubt it will happen again.
I use apps when they make my life easier. I use WhatsApp to call my girlfriend in India, it saves a lot of money in international dialing. I don’t need an app to unlock my door, but I do use an app to operate Nest in my home.
I find that it is a balance figuring out what is a time-waste and what is a time-save. Also, it will take time for me and my new acquaintances to find our footing and explore each other’s boundaries. Once I informed the group that I didn’t like the statement, the woman whose statement cut me deep, immediately reached out, twice. I really appreciated her effort. It made me see that her intent was not malicious. She just made a friendly random in-the-moment joke, without thinking. So, I say, let’s all take a moment to pause before we write comments or Tweets or messages. Because words can trample on others sentiments. But mostly because words are never just words, they have a power to change the world.