The joys of communication

Voice mail and email have turned communication in this world from active to passive.

Think about it.

In the old days, you wanted to talk to someone, you went to where they were, or sent for them (based on your and their lot in life) and communicated face to face.

That's total active communication.

Then the telephone was invented and you reach out and touch someone, so to speak. It was still active communication, but instead of face to face, it was voice to voice.

And pretty soon after Bell pleaded with Watson to come see him ("Mr. Watson--come here--I want to see you." according to this), people started realizing you don't have to answer the phone - you can just let it ring.

Which led to the secretary, then the answering machine, and now, automated call routing and voice mail.

So with one communication device, we can be active/active, active/passive or passive/passive, depending on how we use the device:

If we call someone, and they answer and we converse, we're active/active.

If we can screen calls before answering, we're active/passive, because we waited to see who it was before engaging in conversation.

If we can let the answering machine or voice mail answer, and then call you back when you can talk, we're also active/passive.

But if we wait to get your voice message, and call you back, usually when we know you're busy so we leave you a voice message, which makes us passive/passive, because we call knowing you can't pick up.

Apply, lather, rinse, repeat; until the need to talk totally disappears.

Enter: Email.

Email is much the opposite - it's the most passive form of communication ever.

I send you some binary bits, they may or may not show up on your screen. You may or may not reply, and nary shall our faces - or voices - meet. You don't get my email, or you delete it, or don't want to read it, you simply say, "I never saw that email. Send it again."

If, by chance, I forget to email you ... I do the same thing, "I know I sent it. Lemme send it again."

And while email is a bonus for people like me who despise using the telephone, sometimes, it sucks, too.

Like today ... while on a conference call I got tired of ego-surfing (yeah, I'll admit it) and decided to friend-surf - the art of googling old friends. I already have quicklinks in google to most people I check up on, but decided to toss out an old name and see what I could find. Last time I checked - nothing but fantasy baseball updates and massive amounts of posting on a database forum. Yeah, I have geeky friends, too.

Not this time. I hit the jackpot: Personal website, business website and ... Oh no he didn't ... a website because he is running or did run for ELECTED OFFICE?


Sorry. Granted, he's a great guy ... and he and I have had our share of good days, bad days and going half mad days ... and killed a lot of time and cash haunting used record stores in Dayton when we were roommates. But damn, he couldn't remember to keep the fridge stocked. He wants to run a county? (Okay, I'm sure he'd be great at it. That was 20 years ago. Hell, I couldn't remember to put gas in my car back then.)

ANYWAY ... So when I saw a reply from him in my inbox to an email I sent to an address on his website .... I was exited.

Until I read it:
Thank you for contacting me. I'll try to get back to you as quickly as possible. If you need to reach me sooner, please give me a call at ###-###-####.
Damn the passive communications anyway.

Yeah, I'd could call him, but I hate talking on the phone.

I'll wait until he emails me.

And answer that.

Unless I'm busy.

Then next time our paths cross, I'll just claim I never saw it.

No comments: