Friday, August 1, 2008

You hang up first; no you hang up first ...

I was just thinking about emails and comments on blogs, and why and when they stop. I mean, when the exchange stops.

Say you're in an email 'discussion' with someone, going back and forth. Suddenly the person on the other end does not respond to your last email.

What does that mean?

When you're speaking to someone on the phone, and you get weary of the conversation (or more often you have to go the the bathroom - or a combination of the two), you can say, "I've gotta go! The cat's on fire!" or something like that.

But with an email exchange, you theoretically could go and spend a penny, put the cat out and administer first aid, or whatever and still pick up the thread of the discourse.

It could go on forever. So inevitably, one person stops replying. How does the other person feel? Relieved? Offended?

I think speaking to a person is much more satisfactory, even though if it's time to end it, you might have to get creative with an excuse. Or you can be like one of my ex-bosses, who would just stand up to announce he was exiting the discussion, or announce lunch was over, sans explanation.

You can't see another person's eyes glazing over via email or blog comment. You also can't see the other person, pressing "Send/Receive," waiting for your reply to their last email, or checking comments on a blog to see if someone responded to what they wrote.

More isolation, less human contact.

I was talking to a couple of people the other day and we were speculating about whether people expressed their condolences via email. Is there an emoticon for "sorry your grandmother died?"

And then there's the e-card. Geesh, don't get me started!


Anonymous said...

Oh so totally have that problem... I MUST reply to every email I get. Even if they just send a smiley face response.

Maybe I'm OCD about it... but...

Gillian Swart said...

Glad to see I'm not alone with this! Thanks, Liam.

mary said...

I hear you on this. Not to mention that people aren't always as eloquent via e-mail as they would be in person.

E-cards?! Ugh.