I start a new job today. It feels novel. And odd. Quite a bit odd. Not done this for nearly 12 years. Last night and this morning I’ve had lots of lovely good luck messages and, as I sit here on the train, it occurs to me that a lot has changed in 12 years.
2004 doesn’t seem that long ago. We had the Internet back then. And mobile phones. It was a modern time and yet it feels very different. Back then we weren’t as social as we are now – as I am now.
I wrote a long time ago about the nature of interruption. Since then it has gone further. Our social selves expect to be communicated with, the notion of interruption simply doesn’t exist – the onus is on the receiver to control if something is an interruption or not. This does mean that you can suffer the curse of the notification station – something they were talking about on the radio this morning as I drove to the train. This is particularly true in a global sense, if you have friends all over the world you can get messages at any time of day or night because the assumption is that the responsibility for silence lies with you.
There is good news. The interconnectedness of a social life means that there are no more goodbyes. Whether you are leaving a job, a city, a country you can still feel very connected to anyone you wish to. Sure, you won’t get face to face interaction but – and I’m guessing here – as we become more accustomed to social messaging, FaceTime etc we will gradually wean ourselves off the importance of looking someone in the eye.
Today, this feels all very comforting. I don’t feel I’ve lost anything. So many lovely people who I can communicate with any time – because communication is no longer seen as interruption. Even the jokers who were overtly hoping all the trains would be cancelled. Obviously, you need to work to maintain this. Absence may make the heart grow fonder but WhatsApp puts the people you talk most recently at the top, silence deprioritises.
We live in a world of “au revoir” not “goodbye” and, today at least, that feels like a good thing.