I’m confused and frustrated. Every day the communication gods heap another app on the technology pile and now no one quite knows how to get ahold of anyone else. I’m spending way too much time trying to figure out how to reach my friends, co-workers, etc. I just want to connect!
Not long ago my conversations were either face-to-face or over the phone. The good news is my communication choices have expanded to include voice mail, email, skype, text and facebook. The bad news is that none of these methods work for everyone, forcing me into trial-and-error mode.
I usually start with a phone call. If the person answers their phone, we have a conversation and I’m done. If they don’t answer, I leave a voice mail unless that isn’t an option, an increasingly frequent possibility. Next I try texting. If I’m close to my laptop, I can send an intelligible message in seconds. If not, I get my glasses, hunker down in a shady spot and use my 9-key phone pad to sketch out my query.
If it can wait, I make a note to either catch them face-to-face or email them later. When email doesn’t work, I try private messaging on Facebook, making sure to check it for the next couple of days. And even if I go through all these steps, a growing percentage of people will not return my call, text or PM, a natural response to communication technology overload.
Two days ago I emailed 22 volunteers a spreadsheet, asking them to review the information and confirm their commitment. So far, three people complied without issue. A fourth person wrote that they were unable to decipher the information, leading me to presume that they were looking at the snapshot of the attachment rather than opening the spreadsheet. I sent a second email to the group suggesting everyone open the spreadsheet to properly view the file and received another a reply from a person stating that the document consisted of blank lines. To fix this unfathomable problem, I created a google sheet and shared the URL. At least one did not have a google account, and understandably did not wish to create one for this event. And so it went.
As I write this I realize the folly of trying to reach everyone on their terms. The fact is, I don’t want to get a fancy phone and spend the day staring at text messages. Nor do I want to check my facebook as frequently as I do my email. So for now, I’ll answer texts with a phone call or text them back a default “Please call me” and handle email and facebook the same as always. As for sharing spreadsheets and other information, I honestly don’t know what method will work for everyone.
Communication has never been this difficult and I fear things are only going to get worse. It anyone has an idea about eliminating the frustration from modern communication, please leave a comment. Or call me, or email me, or…