Be the Undependable

iPhone 4 showing the home screen.

Image via Wikipedia

In these days of rapidly increasing forms of communication, it becomes more and more difficult to just be alone, or be with the person you are physically there with.  Everyone thinks that because you are awake, you are available.

Exhibit A:  You pop up on Facebook to read some updates while you sip your morning coffee.  You watch and comment on a cute chimpanzee video then logoff.  Your best friend texts you to ask why you were on FB and didn’t write back to her novella of an email.

Exhibit B:  Your other best friend texts you about something non-urgent like her thoughts on wanting to get her hair cut.  You respond with your opinion.  She continues to text you back.  You go to lunch with another friend and stop texting her.  She texts you again 20 minutes later to ask why you haven’t responded.  (Wasn’t it the original idea of texting to be less smothering than a phone call?)

Just by posting this blog I could potentially upset someone because I had time to write 700+ words, but didn’t make time to call them back.

The scenarios are endless.  Everything we do is now time stamped.  Humans are social beings, but I don’t think we are made to be that social.

That is why I trained myself to be the undependable (insert devilishly cheeky grin here).  I was actually taught this valuable life skill from a very good friend of mine, and fellow Gemini, circa 2006.  The basic idea is that if you do not act consistently or predictably, no one will expect anything from you nor depend on you.  No one is disappointed in you and, best case scenario, when you do pop up again they are happy to see you because there are no bitter feelings and they weren’t expecting to see you/hear from you that day.  I mention that my friend is a Gemini because we are notorious for shying away from any type of commitment; however, I think that this lesson can be used by anyone who wishes to lessen the pressures and stress of an active social life.

Since then, I have had 5 years to build up my reputation as an undependable and it works well for my personality.  The friends who know me well are well aware that I rarely answer my phone, I won’t necessarily text back right away and yes, I may ignore your instant message, even if I am staring at the monitor, because I don’t feel like chatting at the moment.  Just because I can be found doesn’t mean I want to be.  In exchange, I don’t expect them to answer every time I contact them either.

Does this make me a bad friend?  Perhaps, in the eyes of some, yes it does.  However, my close friends are well aware that if there is an emotional emergency of course I will be there for them.  Will I be there 24 hours a day to hear and respond to their every thought?  Probably not.  Being undependable (isn’t undependable so much more fun to say than unreliable?) enables me to weed out the friends with whom I do not share a strong, stable, solid chemistry with because those who understand me, understand that I cannot be a good friend to you if I have not had time to myself.  When my mind becomes overwhelmed, I shut down and I am of no use to anyone.  I need time to process my own emotions, listen to music, write, read, watch TED videos, go for a walk or simply lie on my back, stare at the ceiling and think.  And I want to be doing that thing and only that thing without distraction.  Geminis often have multiple sets of conflicting faces or personalities.  My most obvious set is that I am half social butterfly and half hermit.  The quicker you learn to accept that that’s who I am, the more harmonious our friendship will be.

At the end of that alone time, I come back out of my cocoon.  Then, I am a good listener who can offer you advice or a different perspective on your problems; I can share in your joys and sorrows and spend hours talking to you about life.

I am fortunate to have close friends in several areas of the world.  If I were there for them every hour of the day in every time zone in which they live, I would not have time to reflect and develop my own life, nor be as self-aware as I’d like to be.  It’s not personal, it’s self-preservation.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jackie
    Aug 23, 2011 @ 10:53:36

    I totally agree with this one!!! I refuse to allow my phone to become my leash! It is so important to unplug sometimes and just take time for yourself but you definitely have to work at that these days.


    • ficklefolly
      Aug 23, 2011 @ 15:24:02

      You really do and I think we all struggle with it because it’s all happening to fast and all the technology is so new that new social rules have to be put into place yet. I’m starting to know what it must have felt like for those going through the Industrial Revolution. So many changes in so little time!


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