Monday, August 04, 2008

Do Not Pass Go and Straight to Voice Mail

The title of this blob accurately reflects my sentiments--but does it in a challenging if not circuitous manner. I feel confident everyone will get it. Well, anyone who reads. There was an article in the paper today that was a bit disturbing… I'm sure there was more than one but I was drawn to this one because the woman who was used as an example was named Gorman and my maiden name was Groman. Yes, it is another example of “it's all about me” but that is not what was disturbing. The article was about a technology that permits you to call someone and go straight to their voice mail instead of talking to them. This Gorman woman wanted to break up with someone she liked, but didn't want to have any unpleasant or unnecessary confrontation. (Clearly she wasn't a Groman). She actually was quoted as saying that if she didn't like him it would have been easy to talk to him directly but since she did like him, a conversation would have been too difficult. OH Pleeeeese!

The article went on to explain other equally evasive technologies, like one where you can set your phone to call another phone and leave a message while you’re out not doing what you were supposed to be doing (very confusing), and my own personal favorite which (skipped to e-mail) provided background sounds that mimic being in a traffic jam – so when you’re late for work it sounds like you are stuck in traffic.

Then there were some quotes from people who use these technologies and even some admissions about using the technology to mask cowardly behavior. Although cowardice is not the nicest of qualities, I wasn’t as annoyed by that as I was the people who thought that avoiding a real conversation was absolutely fine. The “It’s too difficult and time consuming to have to explain my feelings or behavior to anyone regardless of the relationship or their feelings” is yet one more example of the kind of self indulgent and entitled people so many of us have become. (Some of us have not, and you know who you are.)

Anyway, Like so many other things in a dynamic and changing world, we are hard pressed to think about the consequences of our development. Can you imagine what the world would be like if the people who invented these technologies hadn’t been forced to have face to face—or at least person to person -- conversations with their investors? There would be no technology. Or if Bill Gates and Warren Buffett had avoided having any conversation about the state of education in the world, and had just left voice mails for one another. I hardly think any of their generous giving would have ever gotten far enough to have the kind of impact it has had on the world. But let’s get back to Ms. Gorman not Groman. I don’t know her, but if the Times had used me as an example of inept behavior I would find it upsetting. She works in marketing. What kind of a person, who makes a living by understanding “people and markets,”
doesn’t have the depth of character to offer another human being a simple explanation. I don’t buy the “It takes too much time. I didn’t want to have any unnecessary confrontation” explanation.
Talk about an absence of depth. How shallow does a person need to be not to empathize with what other person in the relationship might have felt. She liked the guy and didn’t want to what.... hurt his feelings? have to explain herself and her decision? take a little time away for hair and nails treatment? or was afraid to hear what he might have wanted to say. It’s not the cowardice I have a problem with, it’s the total lack of interest and character.

The technology is going to continue to develop. People will take advantage of every improvement and anything that makes life ‘easier.’ That’s the way it should be. There is no law which says life can’t be simple and pleasant. My concern is that if gone unnoticed, the new technologies will also take away something we cherish—like our humanity. We’re just sayin...

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