There is a well-known saying by the Greek philosopher Plato (427 BC – 347 BC) that tells us that Necessity is the Mother of Invention. Plato, I assure you, never owned a Blackberry or an iPhone. Today, technology is being advanced at a clip faster than our ability to comprehend it, much less optimize its use. Consequently, the creator and created have been transposed.
Ever since human communication evolved to where some form of medium was necessary (i.e. not face to face), responses where generated and transmitted at some future time. The time that elapsed permitted three very important things to occur. First, it allowed us to retrieve the message on our schedule, not the senders. Second, it allowed us time to fully process the received message and to thoughtfully formulate a response that is clear and purposeful. Taking time and care greatly reduces the likelihood our responses will be misunderstood. Third, it allowed us to maintain integrity with everything else going on in our lives – especially at the moment the incoming message arrives. When we drop what we are doing to respond to an “urgent” message, we are irrefutably saying that what we are doing at that moment is less important. This becomes especially atrocious when what we are doing at that moment is engaging in face–to–face communication with another person. In any and all cases we are implicitly trying to satiate our desire for instant gratification anyway we can.
Imposing upon ourselves a belief (and make no mistake, all such beliefs are always self imposed) that when someone communicates with us remotely and leaves a message, we must respond immediately – this includes all communication where the parties are not simultaneously engaged. This is ludicrous. One of the key elements of motivation and happiness is a sense of self-direction and autonomy. We voluntary (nowadays maybe involuntary for some) have surrendered our right to these when we willingly allow our lives to be put at the whims of others and controlled by our communication devices.
It seems that we have permitted the ability to do something to morph into the need to do something. Invention has become the mother of necessity.