A few years ago, I attended a writing workshop where the instructor took a few minutes to explain how to compose and leave a voicemail message. I looked around the room, dumbfounded. Do people really not know how to leave a professional-sounding voicemail message? Are voice messages going the way of handwritten letters or handwriting in general? Has texting replaced talking?
I already know the answer to this.
In a time where it’s considered rude to leave voice messages because it creates work for the person on the receiving end, how are we to communicate? Although I do hate seeing lots of notifications (particularly people who call repeatedly when I can’t answer) I can’t imagine trying to conduct business — particularly my home business — without at least speaking to someone. Well, I guess that’s not totally true. The online shopper inside me knows that most transactions can be completed (including credits and returns) without speaking to a real, live person. Heck, I received spoiled vanilla beans from a provider on Amazon and had no way to contact them directly about the issue. Convenience has taken the human element out of many equations.
I suppose this just means I’m old, right? Although my sister lives just 10 minutes away, we mostly communicate by IM and text. Most of my plans are coordinated the same way or via e-mail. Does this quick form of communication also make people flakier? When it’s so easy to schedule something, it also makes it easier to cancel.
One of our recruiting strategies at work is to send handwritten postcards to job leads, of course containing only a phone number as a point of contact. No e-mail address or website. Yeah, I know. The first 10 postcards I wrote were painful. Because I was writing so many (about 200 per month), I had to remaster cursive writing. Shockingly, people do respond to my postcards. Maybe just because it’s a personal, handwritten note? I can’t remember the last time I got one of those.
If all the traditional methods of communication – writing, phoning – are considered too much work, what’s in store for us if texting is the new talking? I’m a firm believer that texting has destroyed dating (don’t get me started) so what does this mean for our future relationships? Will we be limited to a 140-character attention span?