Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's Nothin' Personal

Was thinkin' 'bout how much we depend on email & online interaction these days - then my mind wandered off, as usual, to related tangents, like daily tasks & it turned into a stinkin' post. My bad but here goes:

It's so easy to fire off an email instead of making a phone call. I do it all the time. I'll usually email someone in an adjoining office rather than have to have a face to face conversation. Saves time. It's more efficient & less annoying. OUCH!

We stay in touch using FaceBook. Snap a photo & instantly add the picture to our sites or profile pages. Blog about what's on our minds. We send e-cards, or text messages from iPhones. Order a book for a Kindle or Reader & begin reading the latest thriller in 60 seconds. We network, mentor, advise, critique, whine, offer opinions & put whatever else we feel like online. No boundaries or time lag.

This year we spent Christmas with our grandkids & 2 sons - using a Webcam & microphone. They live 1000 miles north of here. Didn't have a choice. (Job interference.) It was funny/sad when 4 year old Isabel tried to hug us through the screen. Little kids are great & she's a real cutie. Shopping online? - Yeah, we do that too & can even include a card with a message at no extra cost.

Breaking news becomes old news in a matter of hours & the old news is forgotten with a mouse click. Newspapers can't compete in this age of instant information updates & most are circling the proverbial drain. Book publishers are scrambling to survive. The inefficiencies of their century-old business model is killing their bottom line & the upstarts, using new technology, are devouring market share. Magazines? They're all going broke. Catalogs or phone books? Get real.

Which leads to: Would there be so many writers (or wannabes) if everything was 1st handwritten or banged out on a manual typewriter? No copy & paste? No delete? Edit? Formatting? Scrolling? I sure as heck wouldn't be here. (Admission: I still have to look at the keys & use only 3 fingers to type.)

People without access to, or the expertise in using the technology are lost - & will fall further behind. My mother will never learn how to do her banking online. She's never even used an ATM. Of course, she also argued with me about the power windows feature in her car. Didn't want them. Too fancy. Sometimes I can't believe I grew up with indoor plumbing.

Last week's post drew 3 comments from Canada, & 1 each from New Mexico, Florida, Georgia, & Colorado. (Other blogs with major league traffic would make that stat look sick.) Blink - there we all were, a few keystrokes, & we're hangin' out. Common interests & topics  discussed. Encouragement offered, laughs shared, comments about family swapped - kinda like old friends. (But we've never met & probably never will). Isn't that kinda strange? Maybe it's even a little creepy. Are the folks on the screen good people - the real deal? How can anyone really know? Am I the real deal or just a screwball online personality created to hide who or what I am or might be. Creepy huh?

I'm almost done. Stay with me here. I'll make a point. Sort of.

When's the last time you used a pen to write a letter? Wrote a check? Bought a newspaper? Who carries a wad of cash these days? I haven't even seen my accountant in person since 2002!

For all of the conveniences that the internet & gadgets offer, it seems we're heading toward a very impersonal future. I suppose we'll just hafta blog about the good old days when we were able to make eye contact with people & see who was real & who was really creepy.


Joylene Butler said...

My husband will never do online banking. If I go before him, my BF promises she'll revert all our online accounts back to paper. Yes, the world is changing. And sometimes I want to fight it. If I was younger maybe I would. But then if I was younger, all this new stuff would be easier. In the end, I'm embracing the future with a sense of childlike wonder. What will they think of next? Maybe one day I'll be beamed over to your site so we can share a story or two in person. Words are powerful expressions of who we are. Through your words, I sense a good man, the real deal. And ask anyone in my family. I'm seldom wrong. LOL.

Mark LaFlamme said...

I used to write everyone letters in ink – long ass letters sometimes a dozen pages long. I used to write all my short stories that way, too. I want to say I miss it and that writing longhand is a purer form of communication. Just can't do it, though. Copy and paste? Fine and replace? Surviving without those things would feel like the dark ages.

JaxPop said...

Thanks Joylene - You're okay in your assumption that I'm really not a bad guy. With me - what you read is what you get. I need to comment n your guest blog - you a great job. (not surprised.)

Hey Mark - Glad to hear you're working on something to follow up DIRT. Really - that was a great book. Since depending more on using keyboards, I've become a scribbler. Weird 'cause my penmanship has always been very neat - almost 'girly'(PC ALERT!) You're a newspaper guy - How is the Journal holding up? We've got buzzards circling down here over my industry.

Carol J. Garvin said...

I guess I'm an optimist but I don't buy into "the sky is falling" to quite this extent. Certainly the advances in technology paired with the depressed economy have been bad news for a lot of businesses recently. But the changes will cause the demise of some while others will benefit, and that's always been the case. My grandparents used to shake their heads and mutter "progress" like it was a dirty word. The adaptable will survive.

My 89-year-old neighbour got her first computer six years ago and manages well with it. She uses e-mail regularly but admits that she still likes hand written letters for certain things.

One of the down sides of all the technology is also one of its strengths -- speed of communication. It's way too easy to snap off a frustrated or angry response to someone at the click of a key before taking the time to think through the wisdom of doing so.

IMHO, with our developing online relationships I think the onus is on us to maintain the personal touch and keep courtesy and thoughtfulness alive.

laurabest said...

When's the last time you used a pen to write a letter? Wrote a check? Bought a newspaper? Who carries a wad of cash these days? I haven't even seen my accountant in person since 2002!

Okay, so that's me! I do all these things but them I'm living in a totally sheltered world. Many places in rural still has dial-up. I know, I know...It's hard to believe.

Seriously, the world we live in has changed drastically even though I'm clinging to the old ways as much as possible. Oh God that made me sound ancient.

And you're so right about our online relationships.Suddenly people think they know you when you've never met. I guess you just have to realize just because someone shares common interests with you doesn't mean they aren't weird.

That would also depend upon our definition of weird, too.

JaxPop said...

Carol - I'm an optimist whenever I'm not being negative. I think technology is great - I'd hate to hafta ride a horse 80 miles each way to get to my office every day! Never send a nasty email or letter without sitting on it for 24 hours. That's been my rule for years. Courtesy & thoughtfulness seem to be in serious decline. I am always polite - even with drivers riding the left hand lane at 60 mph with their Ontario license plates. (Do they do that on purpose in your country?) Come on people - 85 in the 2 left lanes - minimum! Lotsa rednecks'll just run 'em down. Just sayin'...

Laura - You honestly remember how to use a pen & write a check? You actually DO use a pen & write checks? WOW! Impressive. I do think people need to use caution online - anyone can be "anyone" & that's scary. I'm a bit weird (according to Joylene at least) but not weird weird. Is that weird, using weird so often in 2 lines discussing a weird little word like weird? Synonyms - they're never around when ya need 'em.

Joylene Butler said...

Yes, but in a good way!

Lynn said...

I must confess that I will not do my banking online, nor will I do it at one of the machines. I don't like the impersonal-ness (is that a word?) of it, nor taking away someone's job. (Isn't that a real possibility?) That and I don't trust it.
I was slow getting onto the 'Net, but I'm lovin' it (on the most part.) Have to use wisdom, of course, but I enjoy making new acquaintances of like interests this way. I still write letters long hand since most people I keep in touch with don't have email, and I still prefer to write my stories and ideas on paper. Plus, just today I wrote a cheque to renew a subscription - and put it into our mailbox! Imagine that! I'm one who prefers to pay by cash when possible, though. Does that make me antiquated? I don't think so but I admit to clinging to the tried and true while at the same time venturing into the newer technologies. It's not all bad. :)

JaxPop said...

Lynn - Caution is a good thing. There's lots that can go kaflooey with online stuff. For me, anything that can save me some time so I can do the things I like - or if there's some new fangled way that provide a means to make the mundane chores go away quicker - it's worth a shot to me.

Ronnie said...

Great post, Dave and worthy of a newspaper column. I hope you continue blogging because I enjoy your crazy-good-weird-wisdom.
Last week I was IMing with a young woman in England and as we typed and exchanged thoughts, I began to HEAR her voice in my head. This surprised me! Of course, being across the table would have been better, but that would never have happened.
About 15 years ago when I looked forward to that cheery voice announcing "You've got mail!", I'd smile and say oh, goody and then wonder why he hadn't said "You have mail". Those early aol days resulted in a book written by three ladies: one in Georgia, one in New York and one in California. Putting that book together was one of the joys of my life, resulting in longtime friendships with two completely weird ladies. Not until the book was in hard copy did we meet!
I do worry that my kids and grandkids won't experience the joy of discovering a bundle of letters in the attic or a shoebox of old photographs stuffed in a closet. And think of all the photos that were deleted from our digital camera. For gosh sakes, if there had been digital cameras when Monica Lewinski shook Bill's hand in a crowd, that picture would have been deleted the day it was taken.

JaxPop said...

Ronnie - Wait a minute - you were part of a group that put a book together & never said anything??? I wanna see it - at least via email!

Online vs meeting - It's funny because, even though Deb doesn't blog - she "knows" Ronnie from Georgia & Joylene & Carol from Canada, Mark up in Maine & others. I talk about Joe, his retiring from the CG, the town of St Mary's etc like we've all hung out together. (Anyone reading this - Joe sent me some info & contacts that I needed for research being used for an upcoming Rackham Adventure)

Digital cameras - The nice thing is, you can snap away & if the shot isn't up to par - delete at no cost. Deb hasn't used her fancy schmancy conventional camera since we moved here. She's having several pics converted to canvas. Can't wait to see 'em. I wonder, as technology moves forward - will digital file hardware become extinct making the pics taken & saved these days inaccessible. Will these treasures go the way of the old 8 track tapes & players?

Thanks for the nice compliment - newspaper worthy might be a stretch, but very cool. I have a lot of topics in mind for the blog - just need the time to write & post. The road trips are putting me behind on everything. I have to leave town again tomorrow, but business is so lousy & profit margins so tight, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

With my grandkids - I worry that they're headed toward a ruined economy where the opportunity & motivation to excel will not exist. The Gov't spending going on right now (& planned) boggles my mind - Basic economics, personal or business, does not allow for increasing debt beyond what can be supported, so the current approach makes me nuts. Political & personal common sense seems to be going the way of handwritten letters & checks.

Thanks for stopping by. Say Hi to Joe for me.

jaxnanny said...

Hey - JaxPop can I follow your blog?? hah! Jaxnanny

JaxPop said...

JaxNanny - Took you long enough. Now I gotta change my passwords! Just remember - I get to 'approve' comments before they're posted, so you might get bumped off from time to time - maybe most of the time.

JaxPop said...

FYI Everyone - JaxNanny is my awesome wife Deb. We tease each other more or less non stop & (gasp!) we get along like best friends should. I'm gonna try to talk her into setting up a profile page. Most of my posts include her terrific photography.

Joylene Butler said...

Ah, that explains things. I thought she was your mother. LOL.

A profile page is a great idea, Deb. You should be showcasing your photos. They're awesome!

Carole Anne Carr said...

Thanks for leaving a comment on my blog, enjoyed your remarks about making contact with people. I've always been shy, I make up for this by being too extroverted! So email, blogging, has been a great help and encouraged me, I can add something to twitter and it's gone and forgotten rapidly and at least I've joined in. :0)
Kind regards, Carole.

JaxPop said...

Joylene - Hope you're done bein' sick. I'm lobbying for the profile page.

Carol - Thanks for stopping by. Long way from England to Florida. Hope traffic wasn't too bad. Enjoyed your post about publishing & marketing. Nice story.