There is a new definition to people born between 1977–1983, and it’s called ”xennials”, the one I belong to. That according to The Guardian’s quiz, helps me “understand modern technology but not in the emotionally needy way as to need constant validation from strangers I will never meet.”
I truly hope so.
Why is that?
Growing up I didn’t have a smartphone. If and when I wanted to connect with other people besides face to face, I had to get home and call or connect to the internet. I wasn’t alone, everyone from this generation is more or less the same. We had times we were “available”, the rest of the time we were not.
The norm 35 years ago was “I’m not connected (or available) until I am”.
Nowadays it is all switched around. We are connected all the time. We can be reached by anyone at any given moment. It became that we need to inform the world once we get off the grid. “I’m not available in the next couple of hours, I’m on a plane/having dinner with family/doing yoga”.
I find it strange. The reason being is that as human beings we crave freedom, but how are we free if we are ready to answer and respond to whomever is looking for us 24/7?!
Everyone knows where we are and what we are doing at any given moment. We choose to inform the world about it all the time by using social media, stamping our location or posting “at MetLife stadium watching the game”, or setting the status of the messaging app we are using.
Growing up in the 80s, if anyone wanted to connect with me they called, hoping I would answer; or stop by, hoping I’m home.
If I was available, wonderful, we connected, but if I was not home they would try again later. They knew it can be a while until we connect, and that was ok. The only time it wasn’t ok, and they would start worrying was if it was a time they knew I was supposed to be available.
I was not available until I was.
In today’s world, we are all a ‘text message’, an ‘email’, or a ‘phone call’ away. If someone tries to reach us using one channel and fails, most likely they will get impatient, as they expect us to answer them and be available unless we said otherwise.
I am available until I say I am not.
If you think about it, we are not as free as we think we are, in fact we are at the exact opposite state. But if we are at the exact opposite of freedom then what are we? Are we slaves to our need to be available?
I don’t know about you but as an xennial, I feel there is time for a change.
Time to define online and offline in a clear way. In other words — setting up boundaries — clear distinguishing between I’m available and I’m free.
I recently met with a founder and her husband. As a founder myself I understand her need to be connected and available 24/7. As a thought leader in balancing technology and well being I understand her husband request for her to disconnect. They both were conflicted and needed help. My answer to them both was “Balance”.
Did I say BALANCE?!
How do we balance? We define the time we are available for work and the time we are available to do other things. Most likely one state allows us to be online (available) while the other requires us to be offline (not available). Side bar, I can be offline and still watch Netflix or play a video game, as some people’s downtime can be that.
The easy ones for offline (as we are suckers of online) are sleep time and dinner time. Making the offline a habit or a routine, that we are not connected and not available at those times. Once it’s a routine, others will know not to expect our answer immediately. It will become the norm. And we on the other hand will no longer need to tell the world “we are disconnecting”.
I would love to hear from you what you think should be other times so we can mindfully balance our freedom.