1.an act or course of action to which a person is morally or legally bound; a duty or commitment.
In todays world we find ourselves obligated to an offal lot of things, whether the obligation is real or existing only in our minds.
There are social obligations- party attendance, showing up for work on time (or if you work from home, not working in your pajamas), meetings, luncheons, hanging out with that couple you met that one time because you said you would… you know… the usual day to day obligations that fill up your social calendar. Then there are the obligations that have leached their way into our lives over the last decade or so. Email, social media, ichat, gchat, skype calls, and text messages (just to name a few). Unless you live on the moon, you can, quite literally, be contacted at any hour of the day or night and be expected to respond… even if you did live on the moon, I am pretty sure satellite signals go through space, sooooo.
There is a whole world of unspoken obligations within the social media realm, such as- liking peoples photos because they liked yours (not because you actually like the picture… if I were honest, I would unfollow a few people in my feed if I weren’t such a ninny and terrified of the repercussions [obligation to keep following]), there is pressure to comment back, work the system, stay positive, don’t get too heavy, build your following, and above all be yourself (but not too much of yourself because you still want people to like you at the end of the day). Respond to email ASAP, text back before you have even been texted, be witty, share only beautiful things, and make your entire life look like Kinfolk.
Obligation in and of itself is not a bad thing. In fact, I think it is a great thing. It builds character and stretches you in ways you may not have otherwise imagined. Being obligated to a job, a contract or a social experience, can lead to some of the best, most transformative experiences of your life. But we must be careful not to let the soul sucking goo that is social media rob us of our innocence. If we become jaded and bitter and every double tap will feel like a forced, throw away gesture. Our phones are replacing our people. We talk to them, we sleep with them, share our lives through them, it is all very Jetsons of us (I am referring to Rosy of course, who is basically the coolest… anyways). They carry our secrets, they hold our futures, every email, phone call, text message, tweet, instagram, vine video, and snap chat sent and received at the click of a button, and we can’t help ourselves, we must know who will respond, how many ‘likes’ the post will get, and so on.
Our generation wants to feel excepted, we want to belong, and my fear is, over time, we will loose sight of what belonging really is, and what it means to be truly obligated to someone (or a group of someones) or something. If we are obligated to cyberspace nothing can ever really touch us because comfort is only a click away, but if we set down our phones, we can get hurt, we can see and feel things on another level.
Obligation is not a dirty word, it is important and endearing. I am obligated to be a good friend, not because my friends expect me to be, but because I love and care about them and want to be there for them. I am obligated to my job, because I care about my future. I am obligated to be a good wife (woof! how very little house on the prairie… just hear me out) because Drew and I promised each other that even when things get hard (and we are total dicks to one another) that we will work things out, loving every beautiful moment and ugly flaw.
There are so many bunny trails this can run down, but I want to know one thing. What are you obligated to… and why?