Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Oh, for the love of technology.

I love technology. I hate technology. Technology has made my life easier. Technology has made my life a nightmare. Technology has freed up so much of my time. Technology consumes so much of my time. How could something be so good… and yet so bad? So enjoyable… yet so despicable? Such an asset… and at the same time a great liability? One of my favorite topics to rant about is talking on the cell phone while driving. But, that'll have to wait for another day.

Today's topic... is text messaging. It’s a wonderful way to confirm a meeting or to let someone know you’re running late. But it is an absolutely horrid way to carry on a conversation unless you’re bored and have nothing better to do with our time. It would be rare that I would find myself in that predicament.

So here’s my rule: If the entire conversation cannot be completed in six text messages or less (and that is both sent and received) then find another medium to conduct the conversation (phone, e-mail, send a letter, whatever).

I realize there are people who are very articulate at using a keyboard the size of a matchbook. I’m not one of them. I realize there are people who know and use shortcuts to hundreds of words in the English language. I’m not one of them. I mean I’m not totally illiterate. I know my OMGs from my LOLs. But with all due respect, if you’re really laughing out loud, call me. I enjoy hearing other people laugh and it will probably make me laugh too.
If you find yourself being compelled to text message, I would encourage you… no… implore you… to apply some common courtesy and ask the person you are sending the message to if it’s a good time to chat before you just assume they’re doing nothing more important than waiting around for your text message to arrive. Rare is the moment in my day when I have nothing to do and I’m thinking to myself “boy, I’m bored and I wish someone would text message me.” The simple courtesy of asking permission to chat would go a long way. GT? My shortcut for “is this a Good Time to talk? If so, reply. If not, contact me later.” It’s cleaner than ITAGTTT?ISR.INCML.

The same communications etiquette should be extended when you call someone on the telephone. If you call someone who is not expecting your call, begin your conversation with “Did I catch you at a good time.” Or, “Is this a good time to talk.” Those who are really conscientious will even let the person know how much time they’ll need and the topic to be discussed. “Did I catch you at a good time to have a ten minute discussion about the training issue that came up in the meeting last night?” Then watch the time and be courteous enough to say “I’ve used up the time we’ve allotted” and arrange a time to call back if you need more of their time.

I don’t want to become the world’s etiquette police… I just want people to realize there are plenty of us out there who see technology as wonderful… and horrible… at the same time. TTYL.
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