Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 5/11/2013 (1130 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
I spend far too much time trying to convince some of my associates that a simple conversation is a much easier way to convey information than typing a letter, especially since the widespread use of e-mails and texting has me reminding many of my friends that the telephone did replace the telegraph in the last century.
What a wonderful thing it must have been when the phone was invented and people could have their exact words heard over long distances almost immediately. This had to be so much better than having to tap dots and dashes in different orders and lengths to spell out words letter by letter, right?
So how come so many people have gone back to communicating telegraph-style instead of by telephone?
You know the type. No matter how many times you tell them to "Pick up the phone!" you just get another text or email reply.
Email is now part of our culture. When I first discovered emails, I figured the technological revolution had brought them along to replace the fax machine which had replaced much of what we used to send by regular mail (or what we call "snail mail" now).
But, unlike faxes, emails are replacing a lot of the communication we used to do over the phone. With long-distance plans making national and international calls so cheap, this makes no sense.
How often do you receive emails asking you a whole bunch of questions which require a two-page, typed response to answer fully?
Folks like me, who type for a living, wonder why these people don’t simply pick up the phone so we can discuss these matters efficiently?
This is especially silly when I receive an email from a colleague requesting a meeting. Rather than checking each other’s availability in one phone conversation, we go back and forth by e-mail suggesting times and places until they match.
The worst consequence of this tendency to put things in writing is that we often find ourselves being asked to do just that when dealing with what should be a very simple matter. What used to be the exclusive purview of lawyers and bureaucrats has become a requirement from friends and family. In other words, "Can you send me an email on that?" is a euphemism for "Can you put that in writing?"
Computers have modernized our homes to the extreme. But we went backwards on this whole email deal.
Don Marks is a community correspondent for Osborne Village. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org