Send Me A Text

Send me a text, let me know if I should listen to the voice message you left on my phone. I’m too busy to answer your call but would happily respond to a text message. I can’t be bothered to pick up my voice mail; you can reach me on twitter, Facebook, or send an email. I’ll “talk” to you online as soon as I finish updating my status, “liking” Tiger Balm to qualify for that free sample, and responding to an email my boss sent moments before silently passing my desk on his way out the door. LOL – SYS.

Communication; at least from my middle aged perspective, is poised for one nasty tumble into oblivion. Soon to join cursive writing, grammar, spelling, and bread making in “who can be bothered” land.

My adult children rarely answer their phones but fire lightning responses to text messages – days go by, nary a word exchanged – all perfectly normal to them. My only solace being a conspicuous lack of “how r u” or TTYS nonsense.

Ponder how often you call somebody and hang up when reaching their voice mail, opting for a text message or hope they’ll spot your number and call back. Ask yourself when was the last time you took pen to paper, or licked a stamp. Can you read a map or give directions without the help of Google?

Workplace communication has become comical to the point of tragedy. Human Resources toss pet words about – “huddles”, “empowerment”, “team building” – what a joke. Email after email choking common sense, alienating staff as they fall deeper into anonymous holes – directives, reports, policies – no time to talk, too busy hitting “send”.

Communication is about contact; communication embodies the very heart of human nature – the need to learn, understand and make sense of our world. Spoken words convey messages through expression, body language and tone. Conversation diffuses misunderstanding, allows for discussion, offers support, validation and comfort.

Customer service gave way to automated call centres – “self serve” check-out at stores – “e-cards” reducing heartfelt sentiment to the click of predetermined clichés. Invitations, announcements, requests and pleasantries extended without a shred of actual contact.

Ponder the mirth of telecommunication marketers upon realizing fortunes could be on messaging. Addictive as heroin, technology hooks us on communication devices then “bundles” additional charges for texting and data. Talk is cheap but we’re hooked on the hard stuff; best intentions mere fluff when a message comes in and talk is too much work.

We don’t need to know how to solve problems. Apps put our lives in order – why take valuable time out of the day to ask for directions, read a transportation schedule or map. Why research family history by talking to loved ones before they’re gone – ancestry.com does it for you – infinitely less work. Minor details dissolve click by click, all the while convincing ourselves this is the future.

With each click our perception fades; denial fueled by vague memories of a time when we “communicated”. A generation from now those recollections won’t matter – no one will be alive to remember. Evolution replacing our vocal chords with an extra set of eyes so we can walk and text without being run over by a bus.

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5 thoughts on “Send Me A Text

  1. I must admit I prefer typing instant chat to telephone conversations, and I love the fact I never have to actually see my boss. My biggest annoyance with all this electronic gadgetry is at concerts where instead of groups of sweaty people in the moment bouncing about to the music in unison, you have rows of arms with phones recording the moment for later.

  2. I was talking with one of the project managers here on the Forest and he, being a man of similar age, was commenting on the degree to which government new hires had changed the culture of the place he worked. Not only was he bemoaning the loss of communication but also what he saw as a concomitant change in work ethic. I think he had a legitimate point. All of this focus on the immediate seems to foreshadow a lack of care about those systems and procedures which propel an idea, or an organization forward. And a subsequent crumbling around the heads of those who remain. Managers here in the Forest Service come and go at an increasingly rapid pace. The acquired intelligence that goes with time on the job is being lost by changing staff before they have even acquired that intelligence.

    I think I’m very fortunate in that I get to deal primarily with older people; those who have time to volunteer aren’t usually in the prime of their work life. Many of them aren’t very computer savvy, (some are for sure, but not all) many of them don’t want to use email, preferring a phone call 90% of the time. I personally am not as good with phone calls as I am with emails — I sometimes miss words over the line — but an email I can read and re-read. I like that my small corner of the world clings to something more humane than the direction the masses seem to be heading.

    Our grand daughter’s visit last weekend was so much as you described and so saddening. I saw a graphic not long ago where four tweens were sitting in a circle — not 3 feet from each other — all texting to each other — nary a word being spoken.

    Where will it all end?

    P

    • I can’t get over the number of people sitting in coffee shops, the only thing facing their companion – the back of the lap top screen. Remember when coffee houses were places people met to exchange ideas and work towards positive change?

      Yesterday a story on CBC radio spoke of alarming increases in Dementia.One of the most important ways we had to keep our brains firing properly was the recollection of number sequences.- as in remembering phone numbers and addresses.Very few people have use for an address book these days – all numbers programmed into cell phones. Brain health is paying the price. 🙂

      • Boy do I hear you on the number sequence topic.

        I don’t really ‘get’ the appeal of texting and messaging — except perhaps for the idea that it’s a throwback to the days when parents might have criticized kids for whispering in the back seat of the car. I know kids have a huge thing about having secrets and I suspect that FB and messaging and texting all play into that ‘it’s a secret and only my closest 2 million friends know about it’ sort of mentality.

        We’ll all get to be part of whatever this is going to turn into. But I’ll keep hanging with my older chums and see if I can even retain what I have… 🙂

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