I spend a lot of time thinking about how connected everyone is these days. Not necessarily to each other, but to devices of communication. Even in my own home, there are times when several people are "together", but some of them will be engaged in a conversation of texts or emails while attempting to be present.
The thing that has really made me think about it a lot lately is the fact that a storm knocked out the answering machine on my phone a couple of months ago. I don't use a cell phone unless traveling, so at least when outside I am free.
At first, I mentally planned how to fix it and it would seriously take about 3 minutes of wire wrangling, yet it hasn't happened yet. "Oh no!" I thought, "How will people leave a message?" And still I don't fix it.
I get a little guff now and then for not having a telephone number on the web site. We're 11 years in, and email has worked out pretty well so far. The typical business-like reasons are that I am not available during regular hours, not willing to handle phone calls at all hours, and at one time there was a teenager with an unpredictable attitude. Perhaps anymore, the fact is that I just can't think on my feet anymore. I'm USED to being able to give responses some thought, look on the calendar, check back on prior communications, or whatever it might take to sound like the system here (and my mind) is intact.
Throughout my childhood, well into adolescence, my mother was bound to the front portion of our home 24/7. Extensions from over 40 businesses rang on a switchboard, and she took messages for all of them. She tracked down doctors, got emergency fuel deliveries taken care of, and pretty much juggled the problems of 100's of people a day. She rarely ventured outside, even after an outdoor ringer was installed. It wasn't worth the hassle. I started helping out with the phones at the age of nine. Really. Later, after that was sold and she went to work for someone else, at 14 I went to work on a bigger answering service with over 200 businesses, a few police departments, an alarm company, a Western Union office, and the first FAX line in the county. 2 people worked at a time, and it was ... um... fun. Afterwards I went on to be a police dispatcher with the county, where I learned the true meaning of the word emergency, and also how very many of them occur during an 8 hour shift.
So over the course of the last couple of months, I've realized the reason for my resistance to doing anything about the fried message machine. It is so much easier. There are probably fewer people who remember than those who don't, but there was a time when you could be alone. At one time, if the phone rang and nobody answered, that was that. No messages. No guilt about getting back to anyone. The caller could try later, or go ahead and live their life, perhaps checking in the next day. You could go on a hike and never talk to anyone except the person physically walking beside you, or maybe your dog.
Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I'll probably fix the phone in a few days. But always, I'm easier to reach by email :-)