The soundtrack to self-isolation goes something like this:
A series of endless pings and beeps.
Alert after alert…
Indications that someone, somewhere in the world wants, NEEDS, to chat.
Zoom, Face Time, a text exchange, a game, a quiz, a group get-together, a meeting, an exercise class..
…it goes on and on.
My virtual calendar is blowing up
Talk about communication overload. And that’s before you even add in social media channels.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that we have access to technology that allows us to stay in touch with those who matter most, both in our personal and business lives. However, just because the ability to connect at any moment in every day is there, it doesn’t mean to say we need to be constantly on it.
Or am I being a killjoy?
How do I politely decline a virtual event invitation?
The other day I was invited to a virtual murder mystery party. Now I’m not saying it wasn’t super nice to be invited and that the person who organised it isn’t great at organising things… BUT, in the past if I didn’t want to attend an event it was easy to make up some excuse without seeming rude. However in this new world of isolation that we are still adapting to, is leaving us open and vulnerable to endless event invitations that we can’t seem to avoid politely. They strike us directly at our safest spot, our home. As a result of assumed and instant availability, we are left feeling we have no excuse to not accept or fit it in somehow.
So, there is a building pressure on you to accept, answer all the calls, attend all the webinars, go to the catch up, because what if the person at the other end needs the interaction? What if the person on the other end really needs to chat? What if that person has a genuine problem that only you can answer, is feeling low, sad or lonely.
Social distancing etiquette is a minefield
The whole thing is an etiquette minefield. If you silence a call or let it ring out then the person or the other end will know you’re ignoring them because where else can you be?
It’s not all bad I know, there are the truly lovely aspects to it all, the genuine get-together, the jokes, the interesting webinars where you are learning something new, and the pleasure of seeing friends and colleagues faces on screen. Even though you have very little to talk about cause nobody’s going anywhere. And there’s the awkward moment when no one quite knows how to leave, so conversations go on for slightly longer. It’s like talking to your boyfriend on the landline in the 1980’s – showing my age now – where you had the “No you hang up” conversation.
I don’t suppose some of the people reading this will know what a landline is or the joy of receiving a letter. Now here’s a thought instead of a virtual date why not send a letter. How joyous that would be..!
‘Till then I have a webinar to attend in five minutes. See you on the other side 😉