One wants to know if I am still around in the city and available to meet. One wants to know if anything remains of a product I had built last year. One wants me to respond to an email someone else wrote to me. One wants me to just check an email they wrote. One wants me to read their blog post. One wants me to edit their college essay. One wants me to review their job application.
That’s my WhatsApp. Right now. And I hate it so much.
I just hate instant messaging: the possibility — and sometimes expectation — of instant availability.
Not because these are strangers intruding in my private space. Not at all. None of the ones above are. They are friends. They are people I like. Some I love: my sister is one of the ones above.
I hate it because the modern communication environment overwhelms me. It feels like a burden. I don’t want to respond to anyone because none of them deserve my immediate attention. None are urgent. (The book I am in the middle of does.)
I also know most won’t mind a delayed response. Their problem if they do. Yet it feels like a burden. (Maybe this is my problem?)
What frustrates me is the accessibility: should anyone be so easily accessible to anyone else?
Actually that’s not the right question. I mean that’s not the right concern.
So rephrasing: how does anyone who doesn’t want to be so easily accessible not be accessible and yet be part of a modern functioning society? Is it possible?
I don’t think so. Because I tried.
I deleted my WhatsApp for many months in 2021 when I took a sabbatical. It was great. I did have WhatsApp on a secret number for the four or five people in my life who should be able to reach me at three in the night. Not for anyone else.
But exiting the sabbatical doesn’t allow for that possibility. I can’t disappear if I am working. It helps that I don’t have a full-time job but yet I can’t escape instant messaging. Sad. I wish I could.
Thanks for reading my rant. I am writing this on the metro ride back home — yes, writing a rant about the messages I have not responded to rather than responding to those messages. Oh boy, I hate myself too. Not just WhatsApp.
PS: I don’t have Instagram on my phone. There would be DMs to respond as well. Sigh.