November 13, 2021

Oops! No Internet. Try Again.

We are living in a Land of Loneliness.  We are living in a time of Isolation.  We are living in a time where we have many tools of Communication, yet we are afraid to simply talk to each other. 

The community we have built includes the families that we are born into,  as well as the friendships we have personally chosen over time.  But what is a community when we are not talking to each other? 

Oh, there is plenty of talk going on, just like there are plenty of fish in the ocean, or plenty of possible dates, or mates - SWIPE RIGHT, SWIPE LEFT, DO THE HOKEY POKEY! 

But in this race to make our point, are we actually listening to what others say?

Social media tends to herd us with Like Minds together.  That is because the purpose of social media is not to enhance our social ability, but to create more exact market segments who can then be targeted for maximizing advertising revenue. 

Social Media reinforces our opinions, and weaves a web of Like Minded strangers. But does it create a platform to better communicate?  It is another tool of communication, just like a hammer is a tool.  And sometimes you need a hammer.  But sometimes you need a screwdriver.  

Who are these friends anyway?  Do you know these people?  Do you really know them?  One thing that the pandemic brought us is a narrowed palate with only primary colours.  We can call this palate our pod, or our core bubble, or core cohorts.  

What do we do when a cohort’s clumsy thumbs mistype and mangle their messages?  CANCEL. If they leave out words in their rush to respond, or if their spelling is so atrocious that it is nigh impossible to understand what their incomplete thought might have been?  CANCEL. Is it any wonder that their ability to communicate is impaired? 

What we have here is a failure to communicate.  Like they said in Cool Hand Luke.  And right there I have segmented the reading audience into those who still remember and romance over Paul's blue eyes, and those who just bought his salad dressing. 

Various political factions have created some shorthand to help you find the right advertising segment. Does the term Let’s Go Brandon have any meaning to you? It does if you identify as a Fox Friend.  You know that Let's Go Brandon is the conservative version of OK Boomer. There is a tone of derision, and condescension, but also familiarity, and contempt.  Are hashtags helpful in your daily life? #hashtaghelper #boomerburgersurprise #emojisRus

Do you speak emoji?  I never would have thought that understanding emojis was necessary for success in business, but there you have it.  When in doubt, add a smiley face.  This is part of our modern shorthand.  Even though it is an infantile addition, it is effective.  Why let your poor business letter writing skills ruin a relationship, especially when the helpful insertion of a colon and parentheses can create an impromptu emoji :)  Voila! Smiley Face.  Perhaps a pyramid of communication like Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs is necessary.  

On the bottom would be your typical social media meme- don't share, but cut and paste blah blah blah - wide distribution and self-identifying. But be careful if you are not fluent in memes.   This may be data mining.

Next rung is a social media post.  What is your friend trying to say?   Are there any code words or dog whistles?  Posts are open to misinterpretation, so remember the words of your mother.  If you don't have anything nice to say, ...... Anyone can become a troll.  And if you have been drinking or taking any reality warping influencers, best to stay off the old social sharing circle. 

The next rung is email.  This form of communication replaced faxing.  Were you pro-Fax or anti-Fax?  Do you remember the annoying sound of faxes?  I remember getting a fax at work, which looked like it had a post-it note attached that said, " Check this out!  D."   So you thought this was from someone you knew who wanted you to look at the fax.  This was one of the first Fax spammers.  Emails are usually confined to business, they offer more words, and in the right hands can be a modern form of letter writing.  But beware of the Reply All.  Many times in business I get lists of contacts when someone in accounting or a recent college graduate with no work experience think copying everybody is more efficient.   Yeah, but now everybody knows everybody you know.  Any competitive advantage just went out the window. 

The next higher rung is picking up the damn phone, and using it as God intended, as a phone.  Call someone.  Hear their voice.  You can add their face with Facetime or Zoom or one of those communication tools, but remember where you are, and what you are wearing. Pants are not optional on the Zoom.  Don't be like Jeffrey.   Phone calls are much more direct.  Hopefully you can tell by the tone of voice whether the call is welcome.  What to do with the phone call that goes on forever?  How do you politely disengage?  Sometimes there is no polite way to disengage.   OH MY GOD! The cat just jumped on the table and knocked over my coffee!!!  Sorry, I'll have to call you back.  Ghost......

The highest rung is talking to someone the real old fashioned way- in person.   Face to Face.  There is still some danger of miscommunication, but there is also the possibility of hugs.   Look into my eyes.  You are getting sleepy.   So sleepy.  In person communication also brought us ghosting and gaslighting, so nothing is perfect.   And as with social media posts, if drinking or taking mind altering substances, best to make sure you are on the same page.   

Still, there is the possibility of hugs, which is close to the top rung.  And hugs really help with Loneliness.  Hugs can cure isolation.  But hugs can be welcome or unwelcome, so watch for clues before getting all huggy, especially with someone who clearly doesn't want one.     

You might notice I left out postcards, letters, telegrams, and pigeons.   Try cancelling a pigeon.  Can I recall this pigeon?  Nope.  Once the bird is in flight, you will have to live with what was written.  Unless you have a gun or a bow and arrow.  You can cancel the message, but you also kill the messenger. :)  


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