I have come to dread receiving an email where it says at the bottom of the message, “Sent from my iPhone.” Why is that you might ask?
Because I can pretty much count on the fact that what I am receiving will be cryptic; even if a much fuller and more in depth response would be more in keeping with the level of the exchange. I can also count on the reply being hurried as the sender squeezes me into some non-existent space between all of the things they are doing and already attending to. I can also count on more mistakes, more misunderstandings, and more misreads because the person on the other end is actually not present or available enough to put their attention on what it is that I have sent them.
And most of all, I dread these four little words because I can pretty much count on feeling somehow let down, cheated even, in the interaction. I feel this way even though the responses come fast and furious. Even though they get back to me at all hours. Even though they put the “cutest and most heartfelt” of emogees in their message, along with characters from a keyboard arranged in such specific combinations as to convey their deepest or most present emotional states to me. Even though it seems like they are making me a priority by responding instantaneously from anywhere; no matter what is happening. No matter what they are already engaged in.
But I don’t feel like a priority. I feel like a bystander to a kind of obsessive preoccupation to a device where I am a means to an end. That end being that I serve as the justification for why so many of us now need to stay glued to our phones. Of course we do, we would say, because that is what is expected of us now. And so we comply, but often in the most meaningless of ways all dressed up as significant. Momentous even.
How about this? Instead of “Sent from my iPhone” we try “Sent from Me?” Maybe then we would take more ownership of our communications; valuing them in the way they deserve to be valued. Maybe we would recognize that this is an exchange between two people. Maybe the quality and the quantity of what and how we send a message would change. Maybe we could even begin to count more regularly on something truly heartfelt and significant.
Or maybe we wouldn’t even send at all. Maybe we would call. Maybe we would visit in person. Maybe we would wait until we had the time and the space to send something worthy of our relationship.
Have we forgotten what we mean to each other? Do we matter so little to one another now that we have become not much more than initiators and recipients of assembly line relating; a kind of speedy, one size fits all, generic response system where the “better and the more convenient” the technologies make our exchanges,” the worse our connections become?