I grew up in and old fashioned world before caller ID, screening calls, texting and facebook. When I was in high school we still had answering machines with little cassette tapes, not that I’m trying to date myself too much. People left messages because their numbers weren’t recorded, and people returned phone calls because it was common courtesy. We used to dial *69 to find out about the calls we had missed.
Today’s world has evolved and the manners acceptable within it. These modern manners are certainly different from how I was raised, and I’ve often struggled with the juxtaposition between the expectations I was brought up to have and the reality of the modern world.
Today everyone has a cell phone and fewer and fewer people even have landlines. We’ve traded snail mail for email. Communication has evolved into mainly short, to-the-point messages.
Text messaging has become the communication form of choice rather than face-to-face interaction with another person. Maybe this less personal approach allows for two things selfishness and self-esteem. I say selfishness because now we can opt to return a text and choose the exact moment we return it, so as to provide the illusion that we’re really, really busy and don’t have time to respond. I say self-esteem because this detached approach to communication provides us with an element of control to choose what to say and when to say it. On the other hand, modern communication styles have enhanced relationships simply because it is easy and convenient and a great alternative to communicating in an environment where voices cannot be heard. The long-term effects, however, of a consistent level of detachment may lend to a lack of commitment to the people we interact with most, often missing the full potential of our relationships. In other words, although modern communication styles are simple and effective, we may miss out on the richness of deeper relationships nurtured by more old-fashioned forms of communication.
Another thing that has changed about commitment is the way people RSVP to invites. People always say, “I’m not sure what’s going on yet. Let me see, and I’ll let you know later.” That can roughly translate to, “Thanks for the invite, but I’m waiting for a better offer." Nevertheless, RSVPs are no longer "Yes" or "No", there’s always Maybe, so you can wait to see what life throws at you before making a commitment. "Maybes" have grown quite popular, and I must admit I’m coming around to the idea in effort to modernize my manners too. No matter how hard I try to make a commitment, sometimes I, too, am guilty of blowing off an event. In those cases I make every effort to contact the event host to share that I won't attend the event and why. If we don’t modernize our expectations to a certain extent, then we're setting ourselves up for constant disappointment which isn’t accomplishing anything either. Now I approach events with the understanding that some people who say they will come, will not attend and others who don't respond will arrive. With these managed expectations and acceptance of the progression of society, I find myself far happier and less disappointed by things that are simply out of my control. So where do you fall in your response to commitments?