Saturday, August 12, 2017

No Substitute for Oral

I am not the classic luddite curmudgeon.  Born in 1961 towards the end of the Baby Boom, I nonetheless like to think of myself as an early millennial because my parents brought me up without limits or responsibilities and because I started being obsessed with computers and digital communication as a teenager in the 1970's.  Throughout my 35 years since then, I have always had a bias towards converting every form of everything to digital.

I'm that person in the office who has always driven everyone nuts expecting people to communicate through the cloud, keeping everything updated, uploading everything, like that.

So, it is not lightly that I admit, begrudgingly, and foolishly late in the game, that there is really no substitute for direct oral communication.  In the communication guidelines for Center for Spiritual Living, Santa Rosa, they hold themselves to a standard of never trying to make ANY decision by email.  Email is used only for information, not for discussion or decision-making.  I think it might not even be used to introduce new proposals.

I know one actual millennial who imposes similar constraints on texting. She will use it for logistics, but not for conversation.  She saves that for the phone, or in person--which puts her at odds with most of her peers, and with me.  I am, whether I should be or not, perfectly fine with text conversations, however un-nuanced and awkward they may be (which reminds me of a hilarious fake story comedian Paula Poundstone told on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me about 2 people lost in the wilderness for 2 days whose survival was threatened because their cell phone batteries ran out and they were no longer able to express themselves or know what they were feeling without emojis­čść ).

I have come to understand that nobody really reads anything beyond a couple of emails.  While electronic apps and devices and great for organizing information, and for storing information, and for putting advertisers out of business, if you really want someone, anyone, to know or understand something you talk directly to them, preferably face to face and in person (side note that while I am a big fan of videoconference, particularly Zoom, I am capable of looking like I'm participating in a conversation on video while I'm really checking my email, which is practically impossible to pull off in person, so on balance, in person is better.  Also if you ever invite someone to a videoconference and they call in instead, its a lock that they are multi-tasking.   Some people hate videoconferences for the same reason that I like them, because they minimize multi-tasking.)

So that's really all I have to say.  Now I just have to remember this the next time I go mad trying to "communicate" online.

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