created 10 months ago | Tagged:
Dear Friends and Family: I love you and miss you and want to hear from you. But you've got to stop spamming me. Please quit sending me long, unsolicited, multipart texts and Skype video requests during work hours. Facebook FB +0.91% messages I won't see for weeks. And those phone calls where you hang up without leaving a message. And please, I beg you, stop calling my cell, home and office phones, sending me texts and emailing all of my accounts—all within the space of two minutes. In all the noise, I can't hear you.
It's a growing, yet unspoken problem in many relationships these days: We've become communicatively incompatible. There are too many ways to converse, each of us has a favored method (mine is email), and no one wants to compromise.
"This Pandora's box has opened," says Sherry Turkle, psychologist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of the social studies of science and technology and author of "Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other." "The idea that I have to monitor my Twitter account, email, Facebook, cellphone and land line in order to keep in touch—and to keep straight how other people prefer to talk—is too much."
Once upon a time, people weren't expected to return a missed phone call because there was usually no way to know about it: There were no answering machines. You certainly never had to worry about someone trying to reach you in a business meeting unless it was a true emergency. But now, thanks to our smartphones, it is never OK to be unavailable. Ever. Not for a minute.
This expectation of constant connectivity is making some of us crazy with insecurity. Did your email to a friend or relative fail to elicit an immediate response? Clearly, he or she is angry. Or totally sick of you. Or dead in a ditch. And so we panic and behave badly. We send rapid-fire, increasingly anxious texts. We demand to know why we are being ignored. We spam the people we love most—leaving multiple messages across many different media within minutes.