It’s no giant secret that our generation is obsessed with our phones and with being constantly connected. We’re sure this isn’t the first blog you’ve seen that mentions the fact that people aren’t living in the present or talking with friends who are right in front of their faces, but are looking down, their face aglow with that little LED backlit screen full of status updates, selfies, cat videos, and a bunch of click bait articles about a useless list of something (you won’t believe #7!).
Recently, on our Menning Photographic business Facebook page, we noticed a new little message when we were signed in as admins. It’s a “Responsiveness to messages” icon that businesses on Facebook can turn on if they’re extremely responsive to messages. This will set them apart from other businesses that are not as responsive to messages because the businesses that aren’t as responsive will not have the icon on their business Facebook page. The thing is, the criteria for getting the icon turned on and for being responsive as a business is to respond to Facebook messages within five minutes of receiving them. . . FIVE minutes.
Here’s the thing- we’re all for being responsive to clients and to potential clients. Almost nothing is worse as a bride trying to plan her wedding than being ignored by vendors or sending them an email asking questions and not receiving a response for days. That is just nerve wracking, right?! A bride wants to trust her vendors. She wants to know that they are there for her as she plans her wedding and that they’ll be there and will do the job she expects of them on her wedding day. To that we say, of course! She should! And responsive in that context is exactly what we strive to be.
But. . . five minutes? Nope. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Sometimes we’re meeting with clients. During those times, you won’t get a response from us until we’re done meeting with those clients. After all, if YOU were the client we were meeting with face-to-face, would you want us constantly responding to Facebook notifications just to keep some “responsive” icon turned on? I would think not. That’s just plain rude.
2. Sometimes we’re shooting weddings or engagement sessions. We don’t respond to emails or Facebook messages during those times for obvious reasons. We’re busy, yo.
3. Sometimes we’re sleeping or eating or going for a walk with our daughter & our pugs or enjoying Sunday morning church or hanging out with family or JUST BEING AND LIVING AND ENJOYING THE PRESENT WITHOUT BEING CONSTANTLY CONNECTED TO A DEVICE. (No, Facebook, we’re not sorry for yelling at you). (Generally this is after business hours & I don’t think anyone really expects an immediate response from a small business then anyway).
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m too attached to my phone sometimes. I compulsively check and scroll through Instagram without a second thought sometimes. I had goals before we had our baby to read a few new books while I was nursing the baby because I knew it’d take up a lot of my time and that I’d be sedentary for that activity. The reality of the matter is that I have binged watched several TV series on Netflix & have scrolled through my Facebook and Instagram feeds at odd hours of the night for the past five months. I haven’t read a single book. My phone is almost always by my side. Sometimes I completely spaz out on it & realize a couple of minutes later that Josh has been talking to me & I haven’t heard a single word he’s said. . . that’s sad & I’m working on it! But thankfully I have been learning lately that I shouldn’t constantly be connected. Our daughter Tenley has been an amazing source of joy & of learning. She has taught me that TIME is an important and non-renewable, fleeting resource. Wasting time is one of the absolute worst things to do. You’ll never get it back. Once you spend that twenty minutes mindlessly scrolling through your newsfeed, it’s gone.
So here’s how I responded to Facebook’s new “Responsive to Messages” icon situation- I turned off messages on our business Facebook page and created a Call to Action button there instead that directs people to our website. Now anyone can contact us through our website. That way, messages won’t get lost in the shuffle and won’t come from a few different sources potentially allowing one to fall through the cracks. We can correspond to people through our email and not have to worry about Facebook messages. I don’t know about you, but I just had to boycott that little “extremely responsive” icon because expecting people to be constantly connected, to respond to Facebook messages within five minutes of receiving them around the clock, to shirk their current responsibilities and face-to-face interactions to respond to a Facebook message immediately upon receiving it, or to live constantly connected to their devices rather than to people is NOT the way I want to live my life.
If you’re struggling with addiction to your devices or to being constantly connected, here are a couple of suggestions that might help:
- Turn off Push notifications and have one or two designated times per day that you’ll check the apps on your phone that you know cause you to waste time.
- Delete the apps from your phone that cause you to waste time so that you can only check them on the computer at designated times. (If your time-waster is Instagram, you can always use it once per day to upload your post & then delete it from your phone if you know it’s something that’ll distract you & waste your precious minutes throughout the day. You can re-upload it the next day).
- When you’re with your family or significant other & you’re wanting to be together without the interruption of text messages or the temptation to pick up your phone and play around, get that phone away from you. Put it in another room or turn it on silent temporarily. I know a lot of people say that even having the phone near them can be distracting and feel like a drain on the connection between them & the people around them even if it’s on silent and no one is using it. It’s an energy drainer sometimes. . . if that’s how you feel, completely remove the phone from your sight.
Please know that this post isn’t a judging one. I’m not saying I have this all together & that I’m doing everything right. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I’m still working on this, too! I think we should all work on this together & make each other better as a group. Call your friends out on ignoring you face-to-face if they’re constantly texting or Facebooking. Have a dinner or a party where everyone leaves their phones at the door & either turns them on silent or puts them somewhere out of sight. Let’s all help each other disconnect from time to time. Let’s look at one another, remember what our color our spouse’s eyes are, discover the way that our friend’s nose crinkles when she smiles, and see our kids’ look of wonder as they’re discovering things about the world for the first time. Cat videos can wait.
*A note* I realize that the responsiveness icon on Facebook was likely designed with larger businesses in mind who have a social media/marketing team whose job it is to respond to emails and messages upon receipt. Those businesses likely turn on the responsive icon by having someone respond with a generic “We received your message & we’ll respond within 48 hours” message. In my opinion, small businesses should never be expected to respond to emails or messages within 5 minutes of receipt and I’m not sure Facebook had small businesses in mind when designing this feature. Either way, no matter the intent of the feature, it did get me thinking and allowed me to be inspired to write this post about being connected and valuing our short time here on earth with the people we love most and the things we enjoy.