Over the past few weeks it has become apparent to me that our society has gotten use to instant access. Internet speeds are faster, bringing us instant entertainment and information. Cell phones allow us to communicate almost all the time. And all of this instant access, I believe, has made us less patient as a society.
I noticed this during the last few days of tech for the production I’m working on. Throughout the day, I was getting text and emails with various questions. And a few times I would check my phone or email after stepping away (you know, to shower or eat) and discover an influx of messages that wanted immediate replies. Many of which were things that should have been asked at rehearsal the night before. A few were urgent enough that I felt the person should have called me. Since often it is easy to not hear a text or email alert but a ringing phone is more difficult to miss.
I found myself becoming impatient with other people’s impatience. I felt like I was being expected to be constantly at other people’s beck and call no matter what other project I was in the middle of. Surely, they were not expecting me to drop everything and respond to a text, but that’s how I felt.
Then in rehearsal I found myself time and time again having conversations (about props/lights/actor needs) interrupted by another request. As a stage manager, there are a lot of people vying for my time and attention, and I try to do my best to be available. Usually juggling everyone has been easy enough. But when I was not able to finish one note before someone started telling me another, I became frustrated. Did they not care about the needs of the person who they interrupted? Was a prop preset note so important they had to interrupt notes from the director? Was a scheduling question so important it couldn’t wait another minute?
At the same time, I caught myself once or twice doing the same thing. And I had to remind myself to always start with “when you have a second” or “sorry to interrupt” if I was interrupting a personal conversation to bring up a rehearsal note. To remind myself that everyone may not have the answer to a question right away.
This happens everywhere I look. At work, people start conversations before they even walk into my office. Regardless if I am available, on the phone, or in the middle of a project. When calling customer service, I become impatient when placed on hold and don’t have instant access to help. Standing in line at the coffee shop, people become agitated when the person in front of them slows down their order because they are on the phone at the same time.
A little patience goes a long way. Even in our instant society, we can only juggle so many tasks at a time. I wish that I could split myself into two, and deal with multiple issues and conversations at a time. Until then, I have to remind myself to be patient and hope that others will be as well.