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June 13, 2009

Rant on technology and manners – the sequel


Part one of this rant was written way back in November 2007, when I was a college student, part-time receptionist and student government representative. I combined these duties with "a combination of secretary, therapist, event planner, student guidance counselor, tutor, mediator and research assistant to everyone I know", and to say that I checked my e-mail "like it was my job" would be an understatement. After ranting, I set up some ground rules for communicating with me, and they actually seemed to work. Or - more likely - writing a rant relieved my stress, and I was able to handle all the e-mails.



"Communication technology can be stressful because it forces us to be perpetually available to anyone who has our contact information. This idea makes people turn their phones off, only check their e-mail during weekdays, and relish the lack of internet connection in their vacation homes. This can be extremely stressful to the people who need to get in touch with them, but sometimes people just need a break, right? As usual, the problem is not e-mail or text messaging in itself, but the fact that our habits and our rules of decent behavior haven't caught up with the changes in technology."

- Julie Andersen (yeah, I'm quoting myself)

The actual rant

These days I am still a college student, but now I'm also a journalist at three papers, section editor of one (and soon to be two, fingers crossed) papers and maid of honor at a wedding less than two months from now. I don't feel all that busy, but I have no free afternoons/evenings this coming week. I'm busy in a good way, doing things I enjoy, but still.

My life works because I live in a world populated by adults who are comfortable with communication technology. Yammer, Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, Skype, my tiny computer, my cell phone and even Escenic (with all its faults) make my life easier.

I love being able to work from anywhere. That doesn't mean that I have to work all the time. The possibility of keeping in touch with old friends through Facebook doesn't mean that I compulsively check the (very annoying btw) Facebook front page. And yes, I do still read books, thank you very much, despite also reading blogs and online news every day.

See I have free will. And discipline. And I know how to make technology work for me.

And I assumed that other people my age in my part of the world did too. I am shocked to find Norwegian twenty-somethings who only check their e-mail every two weeks (oh and answering e-mails is just too much for them), who blame the distractions of the internet for their bad term papers (no, not as a joke, seriously), and who honestly see Facebook as nothing but a source of emotional trauma.

And I think: But you're adults! And you're young! Why do you fail at modern communication?

I know I'm preaching to the converted here. I mean, you, lovely reader, are obviously online, reading an enjoyable blog. You do not fail at life. And I'm not going to provide details to the various stressful situations I'm referring to. I just needed to leave my apartment today, and get some carrot cake and a coffee shop window seat and blog. So I did.

In conclusion:

When technology works, it removes all the excuses. You have to actually end the uncomfortable phone call, rather than hang up and blame it on losing the connection. You have to assume that people who don't call, e-mail, text, google, Facebook-friend or Twitter-follow you really aren't that into you. And you really need to get creative if you want a reason not to make a deadline.

So we're left with our own human faults. Our own lack of concentration, commitment or creativity. Let's just be honest adults about it.

Oh and by the way:

Pictures: MarkyBon CreativeCommons, MarieJo L'Aventure Lingerie, Nemi by Lisa Myhre

Posted by Julie at June 13, 2009 2:19 PM

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