The Troubles of Connecting with People: RSVPs, SPAM, and FB

You would expect that these days with all the advances in technology it would be so easy to connect with people. Ten years ago, most of us didn’t even have to use a pay phone to connect with someone anymore; the phone was in our own pocket. Now in 2012, we have even more options, and yet—communication still is not even near perfect, why?

#1 The Flake Phenomenon

Maybe RSVP stands for “React Slowly with Varied Procrastination” because there isn’t much to motivate people to respond. Moreover, I have been having increasing problems with flaky people.

When people flake on me, I am always annoyed. Flakes are everywhere, apparently more common in some parts of the country than others. I wonder if flaking is an international phenomenon? I suppose there are flakes in England, India, or Kenya. Probably not in Germany.

I hope that whomever if reading this makes a least one goal for the next week: If someone asks something of you, follow through and be reliable. Too many times most of us have difficulty making commitments with our time. Even ‘E-vite’ or Facebook events allow you to respond with a “maybe” so that the flakes can feel good about whatever happens.

Communication is so hard for some people. Maybe you have a family member you never (or rarely) ever call? My girlfriend has an uncle who rarely ever calls anybody in the family; nobody knows anything about him anymore. My dad has a cousin who is a great guy and they were good friends back in the day, but now he doesn’t pick up the phone and call him, apparently just because it takes time and effort to pick up the phone and make a conversation happen.

#2 The Spam Phenomenon

Even though flakes have been around for ages, some forms of communication seem to be relatively new. I often get email spam, and it usually is from some Eastern European man—or at least someone with a lot of consonants in their name. Seriously, if you are a spammer at least use a real, plausible, local-sounding name. This morning I got an email with the subject “online pharmacy” and it was from Pxkpqypih. Now, I don’t know who Mr. Pxkpqypih is, but he seems to know a lot about enhancing certain parts of the body.

#3 The Alumni Phenomenon

 

Alumni communication is a new one for me. After you have attended some sort of school apparently a company contacts you to get your info so that they can put together a book to sell you. Not a bad idea, but recently I got notices from my high school, college, graduate college, and fraternity. I got notices via mail and email for each. I was thinking about going to business school one day, but now I’m having second thoughts because I don’t want to get more alumni souvenir book notices.

#4 The Facebook Phenomenon

With such a prolific and widely common tool most of us all know and love as Facebook, how can we not know more about our friends and family? We can tell people about the most mundane aspects of our day (getting a latte at Starbucks) or share pictures of our knee injuries in an instant. Maybe Facebook helps us, because it is effortless and accessible to most and doesn’t cost minutes or awkward conversations. We never have to worry about leaving bad voice mail messages with Facebook. Yet, we could still write the wrong thing or say too much or too little in a comment. Perhaps there should be a FB app that notifies you when it is TMI or when you really should elaborate. Don’t you hate it when someone posts something like “Really amazing thing happened today” and then you inevitably have people commenting on the post with things like, “what happened?” or “did you get into Harvard?” or whatever—like you can’t just come out and tell us, we have to dig for it. The argument there would be that “if you are a really good friend, then you would know about it anyway, because they would call or text you” so then the ‘good friends’ get the best forms of communication (face-to-face or a phone call or text) and the rest of us get the cryptic Facebook messages, in which we have to beg for more info if we really care enough.

That is the way it is, I suppose. Perhaps back in the medieval times they have levels of communication too. There are only some things you would tell people at the local tavern, and you saved the real good stuff for the face-to-face meetings with your more personal friends. In some ways, communication may always stay the same—in terms of how we spread our good words. Thirty years from now, social media forms of communication may seem laughably archaic, like the VHS is in 2012. I saw a VHS tape recently, and geez, it looked so very old, like from eons ago. Hard to believe some people still use an old-school VCR. Point being, what could possibly be the next platform for how we connect with people? We’ve evolved from the local tavern to our smartphone. Perhaps we really will have little microchips in our ear, so that we won’t have to dig into our pockets even to tell people we just ordered a yummy smoothie at Jamba Juice or send pictures of the newest member of the family. While it is nice to know that my friend from high school is now having a baby, do I really need to see the ultrasound? This is what we know about our friends today—and who knows what we’ll know about them tomorrow?

They need to update the ‘Carousel of Progress’ ride at Disneyworld, we have already surpassed the once futuristic portion of the attraction. Hopefully someone can figure out what comes next after the voice-activated ovens and flat-screen televisions, which might have seemed cool back when “Back to the Future” was in theaters. At least the film “Minority Report” which came out in 2002 but is set in 2054 did a good job with coming up with ideas about where we might be, like having cereal boxes with actual animations on them.

One thing we can be sure of is that we will still be communicating with our friends via face-to-face and electronic messages, and putting off RSVPs.

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