Actually, I also don't like when those letters are changed to read: ttys, the "s" standing for "soon."
Because the truth is...later or soon rarely happens. This is a throw away tag at the end of an email or message which implies future conversation but does not actually commit to a future conversation. The vagueness of "later" or "soon" allows the person writing those words to feel free to define them as their schedule permits, giving little to no regard as to how the person reading those letters or words might actually feel. It is the easy way out and a lazy habit. It makes the sender feel as if they have put forth an effort when actually they don't plan on making any effort. And to top it all off, they add a smiley face emoticon.
And because I actually think that ttyl means just that, later, I find myself glancing at my phone or checking my emails far too often...thinking that this moment, this very moment I look, I will find that text, or direct message, or email...only to find that, yet again, I am being asked to "save it for later."
Why should I have to compromise or redefine what communication means to me because we, as a culture, have become insensitive to others? Why is it okay to devalue someone's time because you don't want to make time or give time to them? When did it become socially acceptable to not answer emails, or voice mails, or really anything, and apologize with a hastily put together text that lists all the things the other person has been doing and ends with, yes, you guessed it, "ttyl :-)"
I have frequently been told that I am too demanding of people, that people are busier than ever before with a long laundry list of commitments and responsibilities, and I should "relax." I have been told that I am too sensitive. That I wear my heart on my sleeve. That I just need to "chill" and shouldn't expect too much of others. I have been told that I shouldn't take the lack of respectful communication "personally" because "it isn't personal."
And here's what I have to say to all of that:
Because communication, whether of a business nature, or friendship, is...personal. It is personal TO ME as I am the person being communicated with, or in this case, not being communicated with. Because life isn't about the things we have, or the job we do, it is about the relationships we are in. And unless you have decided to trek to the top of a mountain and live as a hermit, you are a part of other people's lives. People who might get tired hanging on the telephone, so to speak.
Yes I am sensitive. And I will continue to wear my heart on my sleeve. That sensitivity to the circumstances of others is what drives the work I do as an advocate and how I navigate my days as a person on this planet. I have spent the better part of twenty years working with volunteers in some capacity and I know that our time is valuable. That we are only given so much time in a day in which we have to navigate a finite (or for some infinite) list of "things to do." Our daily routine might often be created by the perimeters of the job which we have and the task list presented to us by our boss. Within the hours of our day we must also practice some personal self care, exercise, eat, shower, drink coffee, breath.
But within the timeline of our day, we also make time to tweet about our lunch or an article we read. We make time to take a photo of our cats and post it to Instagram. We make time to craft a witty status update for our social media sites to let everyone know...how busy we are.
Because we will "save it for later." And unfortunately we find all to frequently that our intent to do that "later today" often turns into "tomorrow" which morphs into "soon" and then fades away into "never."
Let me also emphasize here that liking a status update or an instragm photo or liking (or re-tweeting) a tweet is an appreciated gesture of connectivity, it isn't actually connecting. It certainly is a step in the right direction (acknowledging the presence of others in your life) but it isn't the same as actually saying hello to that person.
We post memes of quotes which talk about compassion, kindness, consideration, connectivity. Quotes that emphasize that we must "sieze the day," "live in the moment," "celebrate the wow of the now," and then we fail to do just that. We talk the talk but we don't walk the walk.
I am not a person who does anything by halves, not work, and certainly not relationships. And when I tell someone I will talk to them at another point in time, I actually do that. And my later isn't measured by a clock but by the value that I believe the other person brings to my life. Because "if it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse." No one ever should be made to feel that they are an obligation. When we don't let the people who are important to us know they have significance, they will soon feel that they are, in fact, insignificant to you. And when you feel insignificant, which is a personal feeling, you then decide that later actually means never which really means...goodbye.
Eventually we get back what we send out. When we spend most of our time apologizing for not sharing our time with someone, we find they no longer have time for us. When we don't reply to emails we no longer find emails from that person. No big scenes, no drama, just a slow, sad fade to black. Sure, for some, there will a shrug of the shoulders and a philosophy of "we'll cycle back to each other one day." Others will become defense and point fingers at the other person for being "too needy" or "too demanding" devaluing the importance of the relationship.
If you say it, mean it.
If you mean it, do it.
If you don't want to do it, don't say it.
And if you did say it and didn't do it, apologize for it.
Because, as Catherine Gilbert Murdock points out, "when you don't talk, there's a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said."