BLOG: Can we talk?

Is it just me or does it seem like the more methods of communication we develop, the harder it is to communicate with people?


Not that long ago, if you wanted to communicate you wrote a letter, put a stamp on it and dropped it in a little box at your local post office. Then phones were all the rage, and I’m not talking cell phones either. These were mostly attached to the wall and decidedly not “smart.”


Then there were pagers. Remember those?


Email came along a while back. As far as I am concerned it is the ideal way to communicate. While I don’t always have a great deal of time to conduct conversations over mundane matters, I can deal with them at my leisure if I am sent an email.


Consequently, and by nature of my job as an editor, I am predisposed to check my email on a regular basis. In fact, I have combined two technologies and my email system alerts my phone when I have an email incoming.


But then there are those who have email but never bother to check to see if they have messages. I presume – perhaps wrongly – that if someone sends me an email, a “return” email is appropriate. I’m beginning to discover a subculture of people out there who use email only for outgoing communication.


When you ask, “did you get my email?” these people reply: “No, I never check my email.”




That makes about as much sense as owning a washing machine and still scrubbing your clothes on a washboard (remember those?). Who does that? No one sane that I can think of.


I recently came across someone for whom I had left several phone messages. Eventually this person returned my call and I inquired as to the length of time between and she informed me, “I never check my phone messages.”


It’s getting to be about as bad with Facebook. It seems most people establish an account and then abandon it. And very few people know how to send or receive a private message.


I have on occasion in a desperate attempt to reach someone that was not reachable by any other means, sent a Facebook private message. The last one I sent, I received a message back nearly a month later. Unfortunately, it was an inquiry regarding a story we were running that week – so four weeks late in responding.


Excuses are like belly buttons – everyone has one. “I just get too much email to read it all.” Fine, only read the ones that are responses to emails you’ve sent then. “I don’t have time to keep up with my email.” Fine, then close the account and when messages I send you bounce back, I will know this is no longer a reliable way to communicate with you.


I’m sure whatever method of communication invented next (perhaps mental telepathy) will present the same difficulties. Some people have closed minds, which means your message would never come through.


I guess the choice we all have to make is how much are we going to participate in the real world and how much are we going to try to insulate ourselves from the real world. If you want to be a Luddite, don’t be surprised when you find yourself in the dark regularly.