Electronic Warfare

Source: DesignM.ag.com
Source: DesignM.ag.com

A friend of mine recently bemoaned the state of electronic gadgetry in our lives (Hi, B). Specifically, his complaint is with phones and how everything is more about evasion and rationalizing the insincerity of our contacts with one another.  In my friend’s mind, the origins of all of this go back to sometime in the 1980’s when caller ID was first introduced to consumers.  He places that particular technology at the root of the current practice of everyone avoiding each another.

He probably has a point.  With each advancement in what we now call land lines, we became more and more able to discern exactly when and from whom we would answer the phone.  As cell phones appeared, the engineering designed to separate us increased markedly.  It suddenly became akin to warfare.  I’ll catch your number with my caller ID, but oh, wait, you have the ability to block your ID from me; you created a distinctive tone for only when I call, and you don’t even have to get up to walk over to your phone because you know it’s me calling.

Phones are now the complete opposite of what Alexander Graham Bell and Mr. Watson had intended. They are for avoiding each other rather than speaking.  Remember when AT&T actually had an ad campaign called “Reach Out and Touch”?  How quaint!  No one has to yell out “I’ll get it!” anymore because I bet your phone is probably on silent mode anyway.   Even calling it “silent mode” shows how old I am.

Of course, back in the days of yore we truly did miss phone calls.  We were out at the supermarket or maybe driving the car. Being outside pretty much meant you couldn’t be reached. But now no one truly misses a call because phones are always nearby and ready to, well, not be answered.  Some of the excuses are the same — “I was in the shower” or “I was at the movies.”  Others are appropriate for the technology — “I was out of cell range” or “My battery died.

Text messages are another way to avoid making or returning a phone call.  I actually never do this because to me it’s too contrived and transparent.  If a person makes an effort to call me,  I will return their phone call.  I notice this phenomenon with members of my own family, my two nephews in particular, and one older sister who is also habitual in the practice. I will call them up and almost immediately it goes to their voice mail.  I will leave a message, and within five or ten minutes I will receive a text message response apologizing for their not answering because… (insert your own legitimate excuse here).  And, of course, the ultimate kicker for these kinds of text message responses? The mere fact that you’ve been sent a text response absolves the sender from having to respond by voice– which I find to be brilliant!

There is no doubt a generational divide going on here.  A recent Washington Post article on television viewing shows how the age-old practice of sitting in front of the TV is more and more something only older folk do.  Millennials are increasingly cutting the cable cord and watching shows on computer, tablet, or phone devices only.  Translate that kind of shift to other electronic gadgetry, and it’s really not hard to understand why phone etiquette has changed.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am no angel.  I admit to having let a phone call go through one or three times in my life.  Plus, to all you mothers out there who dutifully sit with your kids at the entrances of super markets watching them try to sell Girl Scout cookies when there are at least six other places you’d rather be, I am that guy who comes out of the store talking on his phone with a most earnest expression on his face, and walking right by your children because my “conversation” is so important that I suddenly cannot see them.  Isn’t it amazing, though, how I do see the cars that I need to navigate around as I step into the parking lot?  Isn’t it also amazing how that “conversation” magically ends as soon as I reach my vehicle?    Yeah… I know.  I needn’t have confessed, you already knew.

I made three promises to myself before starting this blog:  (1) I will rarely or hopefully never write about politics; (2) I will not write about blogging itself, and (3) I will not write what I call “cranky old man” pieces that complain about all the infractions I see in regular, every day life.  This particular post comes awfully close to the last one, so I’m watching myself very closely right now.

Ultimately I guess I don’t really care if you don’t wish to speak to me.  I know you’re monitoring your phone because it’s always within ten feet of you.  If there’s something I deem to be important, you are the master of your own kingdom, and you get to decide if you agree with me or not.  But relationships do need to be nurtured.  There really are no short cuts to intimacy.  You have to work at it.  If it’s easier for you to just dash off that quick message instead of speaking to me, then by all means go ahead.  I will read it, absolutely.  But please remember that I’m no dummy — I get what’s happening.

If it’s not too late for New Year’s resolutions, I do promise to buy girl scout cookies at the grocery store later this year.  There’s always room for self-improvement.

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26 thoughts on “Electronic Warfare

  1. I remember the days when I was a teenager and was rarely more than a quick dash to the phone. I must have spent hours on it tethered to the wall within hearing distance of my mother. Now I rarely answer any phone. Much prefer a text or email. Maybe I’ll answer or maybe I won’t.

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    1. I fortunately don’t get very many calls. But there are what I call “serial avoiders.” My older sister literally will not answer her phone, ever. She screens EVERY call from what I gather is a fairly large cross-section of the population (i.e. family, friends).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As the mother of a recently graduated college student, I can tell you that some people (who should remain nameless but won’t — JACOB) manage to ignore texts as well … or maybe he just used a new format to ignore his parent!

    You just became my 4,000th follower! And in celebration, I followed you AND wrote a post! Thanks and welcome!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do understand. I have no kids, but I am familiar with the dynamic.

      Wow, 4,000! That’s amazing! Thank you for allowing me to share in the moment, and I’m honored that you chose my blog in which to announce it. I am a former Washingtonian, so I’ll be glad to check in on your writing on a regular basis.

      I loved your post on Rep. Gohmert. As much as I hate this word because of a certain radio commentator, I will nonetheless say a robust DITTO! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sadly, Louie went down (as we knew he would). We have the Orange Man back again. It will be a long 2 years … Just from reading your posts, I am pretty sure that you would never be considered a dittohead!

        I’ve been blogging for 3-1/2 years, so it’s taken me a while to get that high. And as you’ll notice as time goes on, not all followers are the same. There are folks who hit the “follow” so you will check out their blogs which invariably try to sell you something. Others are non-blogger trolls who want to know what the other side is saying. Still others don’t exist when you try to check them out. So it’s a number and a milestone, but not even a real one. Still I wanted to mark it.

        So it will be up in a few minutes, and hopefully it will lead some of my bloggin’ buddies to you!

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      2. Yes, sadly, I’ve noticed the opportunists and trollers. But I’ve also met some very fine and interesting bloggers who are sincere and incredibly talented. So it is worth separating the wheat from chaff, so to speak.

        My blog is quasi-anonymous. I’ve introduced it to probably two handfuls of friends so that there’s *some* readership, and the rest are those that I’m grateful have noticed me here on WordPress. I’m enjoying the process.

        Thanks for the encouragement!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi there. Elyse invited us to check out your blog. She is awesome so I accepted. Do you have a receive email notification follow button?

    I have phone phobia if there is such a thing. Even when I was younger, I would be right by the phone and “not” hear it. I was dragged into having a smartphone, kicking and screaming. Even so, the only two people I really talk to are my mom and best friend. If I do work the courage to make a call and it goes unanswered, it makes me nervous to initiate vocal contact again. That said, I have no problem with texting or the text back. Looking forward to reading more!

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    1. Nice to hear from you! I do believe SOMEWHERE on my site is an email sign-up to follow. But, ironically, I am out at the moment and accessing this on… you guessed it, my smartphone! But I do believe it’s there in some inconvient place.

      My wife recently got her first smart phone, and also somewhere here you might find my post on it. She was wary of having one but now loves it.

      Thanks for coming to my blog, I look forward to reading yours. 🙂

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    2. 1jaded1 – if you are accessing through WordPress, you can follow by hitting the “Follow” button towards the top left of your screen, and then, in order to receive email notifications whenever he puts up a new blog post, go into your Reader, edit Blogs I Follow, select Snakes in the Grass’s blog, and then choose either Instantly, Daily, Weekly, or Off. When you initially click the Follow button on his blog, WordPress automatically sets the email notification to “Off”, so in order to receive an email notification whenever he puts up a new blog post, you would need to edit and change the setting to either Instantly, Daily, or Weekly.

      Just FYI – thought I would share, since it took me a long time to finally figure it out myself. I kept “following” blogs, but never getting email notifications, and couldn’t figure out why. Eventually either someone shared the magic formula, or I figured it out (can’t remember which at this point), but to get those email notifications, you have to go through the whole process, and not just click on the Follow button. Hope this helps.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Howdy. Elyse invited us to check out your blog. You just never know who might wander into your neighborhood. I’ve been blogging (in various different places) for gosh, a long time. I just did the mental math (with a calculator, of course) and it’s been 16 years. Hard to believe.

    Presently, my blog is not particularly active, as I’ve been sporadic and irregular about posting. I’m going through one of those “if you don’t have something nice to say, then you know what to do” phases. It was feeling like there was too much “waaa, waaa, waaa” and “boo hoo hoo” going on when I came to the page, so I’ve been trying to take a break and am actively hitting the re-set button, so that I can come back with a better perspective. Still working on that one.

    I enjoyed what you shared about how our technological devices have allowed us to build a berm between us and everyone else, and will be the first to admit that I am consistently guilty of conveniently missing calls. Mostly everyone that knows me is well aware of my hermit ways, and although they likely don’t appreciate being unable to reach me, they’ve grown to accept that the best way to talk to me is via email. I won’t blather on about it, other than to say that I wonder sometimes why I even have a phone. I suppose it’s about keeping options open.

    One of the things that has rubbed me the wrong way about technology, and how it affects good manners, and what is considered acceptable behavior these days, is the phenomenon of totally doing away with proper thank you cards, or even verbal acknowledgements, when it comes to exchanging gifts. I was stunned the first time it happened to me. Receiving a texted “thank you” for a bridal gift made me mutter unkind things under my breath. Nowadays, it seems the younger generation (and some of the not-so-younger generation) think it is acceptable to shout out a thank you on social media, and consider it a done deal. I don’t like sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, but in my book, a proper thank you includes a personally written note, preferably within just a few short days of receiving a gift. Sadly, it seems there are very few people who still employ this practice. I can’t really blame that one on technology, I suppose, but it surely made it easier for folks to skip all the usual steps, and go straight to smiley faces and LOL’s.

    p.s. Nice to meet you. Look forward to becoming further acquainted. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog. Truly, I am very appreciative. You sit, you think, you ponder, and then you finally tap out those thoughts wondering if anyone will really care. It’s very kind of you to give me your feedback — thanks!

      I definitely agree that technology has impacted our ability to stay connected in a *meaningful* way. I still get e-greeting cards from family members who have (again) forgotten my birthday. It’s dispiriting. Recently I mailed a note to someone who is going through a divorce (she is in her 30’s), and I was thinking at the time that I might be the only one of her family and friends who actually made that effort. Emails, texts, and social media seemed to be the only way we wish each other birthday or anniversary greetings anymore. My wife noticed someone on her Facebook page who announce her divorce to everyone. Ouch.

      It’s very nice to meet you too, and I look forward to whenever you decide to re-start your blogging activities. In the meantime, find that muse!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. With you on the lackadaisical attitude to the niceties of life – we called it etiquette, in the olden days. Much of social media which has leaked into daily life for our millennials is a one-way interaction. Like me, follow me, love me, excuse me, pander to me. Little sensitivity to the art of reciprocity, aka the golden rule of what comes around goes around, sow as you wish to reap. Thinking of you as you find your mojo and return to the page. You write well – be encouraged.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Dear SIGGY (sorry, couldn’t help it), I’m a people person and not being able to address you seemed rude. Love this post and the way in which you write. You reworked my thoughts beautifully on the techno stuff. Imperfect folk (I’m no angel ..) are so much more interesting than those who are, well flawless, like angels. Thank you for the visit and follow 🙂 Linda (QP)

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    1. Hi, Linda! SIGGY — I love it! Thanks so much for your kind words — I do appreciate it. I agree with what you wrote earlier on etiquette. I do agree — there is something missing when it’s all by electronic means only.

      I’ve looked over briefly your own posts, and I do want to return soon to read them some more. I am moved by what I’ve read of your upbringing and your past — you write so movingly about it. Be well and keep writing. I’ll be watching. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey, Snakes, you knocked it out of the ballpark regarding gadgetry. One other point: because of texting, teenagers have become a secret society of sorts. Parents have no clue what they are communicating to others. Agree?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, J. I absolutely have to assume that you are correct about teenagers — especially since you are in a very unique position to observe. I am not around any teens, so I’m dependent on blogs such as your own to enlighten me on their antics. But it would appear that they indeed have electronic rituals that far exceed anything I had back in the 70’s, when a car was about the best any of us could use for influence or to make an impression. On a related note, one that I think you’ll appreciate, I do worry what texting is doing to the language in general. Abbreviations are becoming an abomination!

      I admire your posts very much, and I hope you continue!

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  7. Oh, go ahead, be a cranky old man! I absolutely and positively hate talking on the phone. When email and then texting became popular I was able to communicate! I am a visual person and talking to a voice with no facial expressions is not something I enjoy. Of course, I don’t like Skype either, so what’s my excuse there? I am the person who replies to a phone call with an email… not even a text! I enjoy talking person to person in the flesh with someone if it’s going to be a real conversation. Otherwise, I’d rather write an email so I can collect my thoughts. My pet peeve is when somebody calls and doesn’t leave a message. On my land phone I don’t know who called (of course, 99% of the time it’s a sales call anyway). On my cell phone I know who called (if they don’t have a blocked number) and then wonder if they really wanted to talk to me because they hung up without saying anything. My home is on four half levels and my cell phone is ALWAYS on the furthest level away from me… I don’t carry it around the house…. so I am always missing calls on it because I can’t get there in time, so if the person would just say, hey it’s me, call me back, I would honor that request! Well, now I am leaving a cranky old lady comment so I had better stop!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Isn’t self-hypocricy great? Well, RMW, we’ll just have to agree not to keep our communication here on the blog rather than by phone. 🙂

    My wife has clients who want her to use Skype or FaceTime, but she absolutely refuses. She’s convinced that either a technical snafu or someone’s shiny jewelry will distract her concentration. But she loves phone readings rather than in-person ones, again probably because of the lack of any distractions.

    Your home situation convinces me that I need to always make sure I live in a one-level abode!

    Like

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