Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How My Landline Became Twitter

I remember cruising the roads (The Ridge) in high school with a keen eye for anyone that we knew in a parking lot or having a party at their house... or just looking for a street race.

Yes, this was way before the time when we had cell phones, email, IM or anything else of the sort... when we got bored, we played video games on the Commodore 64 or Atari.

If we didn't make plans in advance of the evening, then we had to wing it. There wasn't a way to reach anyone that was already out and about.

So back in the day, the landline phone was the primary means of communication. The phone had replaced good old face-to-face and postal forms of communication.

When I entered the business world, the land line phone was replaced by email and instant messaging. Shoot, I'd be one cube wall away from someone and still use IM to talk to them. The ease of communication increased, but did the efficiency?

Shortly after I began my working career, I was acquired by and ultimately by Yahoo! the summer thereafter. Email and IM dominated the communication channels each day, but because we were a satellite office (broadcast was in Dallas and Y! in Santa Clara, while we were in San Diego), we quickly learned that we could accomplish more face-to-face in a few hours than we could accomplish over a week over email and IM. So we'd fly up to San Jose and jot over to Santa Clara for a day or two to make progress and we'd do this once every couple of weeks.

I was never much on the text messaging thing. In fact, it would bug the crap out of me when my girlfriend would continually get messages while we were out on a date (I guess I should have seen the writing on the wall sooner with that one). But then, I went to work for a text messaging company, 4INFO, and learned of the benefits that one could receive by getting information pushed to one's phone.

By spending so much time in the text world, I began to communicate via text, as well. So, instead of picking up the mobile phone to chat with friends, we'd text.

ASIDE: I still haven't figured out what I'm worse at, driving while talking or texting, but I think it's talking for me.

While talking on the mobile phone had a temporary glimmer as the primary method of communication, it was replaced by something more impersonal in text messaging, but more efficient?

Facebook has brought many of us back to the computer as the means of communication. Facebook is rather like text messaging online for you get these fast food nuggets of information about your friends wherabouts, plans or moods. Facebook is a bit more efficient, for it can help us plan for future events quite simply and easily, but it mainly helps us to stay in touch without actually being in touch. Efficient and impersonal.

Enter Twitter, which does the one to many updating that Facebook did, but now does it over a medium that is with us at all times. Broadcasting a message is efficient for finding out who is listening and then reverting back to person to person text messaging is the norm to make plans.

But, I still believe that we'd be more efficient if we'd simply make the call. I'm as bad as it as anyone. Instead of sending 25 text messages, we could spend 30 seconds on a call and take care of business.

I simply think Americans love the ring of the phone, the vibrate of the text message, the ding of a new email... and even though we claim that we want personal touch, we really prefer impersonal methods of communication because we really don't have to change what we're doing.

Again, this word "change" which is so prominent in the country right now. I firmly believe that we agree with it objectively, but not subjectively. No one wants to change; they understand where they are and fear something different. Different is an unknown quantity.

When we've been on one side of a spectrum for a long time, we have a tendency to over-compensate to the other side... I think that will be interesting in this day of a tough economy, a topsy-turvy market and a pending election with so many issues facing us: education, crime, immigration, war, entitlements, environment, etc.


Tess said...

Well said.
I actually held out for a long time. I didn't have a real cell phone until about 3 1/2 years ago, and I hated texting until about a year ago. We all hate change at first, but then we get used to it, and can't imagine life without it.

Robert Zamees said...

Kicking. Screaming. Oh, that's kinda cool. ;)