Talking about why we’re not talking

I give up. I don' think I'll ever understand this phenomena. Communication in the "Digital Age". Its something I've given up trying to understand. And though I've conceded defeat, it doesn't make dealing with it any easier.

I'm talking about people who can't return calls, emails, messages, love, hate, disputes, conversation. Whatever may be the case.

Its like the gaps between the have-s and have-nots must become a chasm before we can make it a science, and pay millions on studies that determine "Why this happened". At one end of the scale there are people who are embedding technology into their bodies so they never have to provide an access code. On the other we have those who simply cannot manage responding to electronic communication.

The confusion for me doesn't only stem from this technological divide. It takes root in the issue of communication. If you've ever taken a class at university, you know the basic tenets of communication and have been exposed to the pitfalls of varying philosophies on the topic.

What they fail to mention, and you can only gather this through personal experience, is that communication isn't so much an institutional issue as it is a personal one. In our daily lives, we encounter many people, who simply cannot be bothered. Its people who make work in the institutions where these case studies highlighting "Communication Issues" are derived from.

People. Like You. Like Me.

People who don't feel the need to maintain basic etiquette by acknowledging that some one made the effort to write to them or call them (or whatever maybe the case). With the advent of technology, misbehaving is becoming so much easier.

Those with poor communication skills or rather ill gotten conceptions of Communication, can cocoon themselves behind the digital fortress of anonymity. They're also comforted by the knowledge that there exists no compulsion under which they must return a call, message or email. It was harder to do so in an age when communication was slow and usually face to face. To a point the sexiness of instant messaging has waned. Its so easy and so accessible, the magic's gone and we're super bored with the concept.

So why am I so confused by all this?

Being somewhat sensitive to the needs of others but more specifically to my treatment of them, I am an enthusiastic communicator. What does that mean, you may be wondering. It means that I'm not only open to communication, I initiate it and maintain it very well. I'm frazzled by the concept of schedules so tight they disallow common courtesies. I'm so busy or so saturated with information I cannot be bothered to return the courtesy you afforded me. You may have messaged me/called me/emailed me, but really I can't be driven out of my apathy to muster the decency to type out a quick response.


I don't know if I can make my peace with this behaviour. I also don't know if I will ever understand it. I'm sure there are many selfish self obsessed under currents to my stance on this. I contacted you, and you cannot be bothered returning the favour? Surely you care that its me calling? Surely?

Jokes aside, with the increase in methods of communication it baffles me that people will resort to being aloof. Improving digital communication methods has also made us a lot less concerned with the human element of communication. Smilies don't convey what a smile on your face or the twinkle in your eyes will. We are using computers to talk to each other but at the end of the network sits another HUMAN BEING reading your response. It could be millions of miles away or it could be next door. That's still a person you're communicating with, they think, feel, breath and get frustrated the way other humans do.

Perhaps its the irony that baffles me. Having greater access to communication methods is giving us more choice, thus making us more insular. Go figure!


13 thoughts on “Talking about why we’re not talking

  1. maybe the anti-modern muslims had a point. all this technology is evil and anti-human πŸ™‚ it gives the illusion of closeness but is really seeep-aarra-ting us.

  2. salaamat,
    i have a love/hate relationship w/technology…you should read this book called “technopoly” by Normon Solomon (i think) he is amazing mashaallah and touches on all the different aspects technology irreversibly changes our very humanity and societies we live in.

    its funny (in a sad way) that in the richest countries (with the greatest access to technology) loneliness is most pervasive.

  3. von: *sigh* thats indeed a depressing thought.

    sana: evil technology or evil people? just give me a farm and let me churn my own butter, grow my own vegetables and keep chooks.

    maliha: is technology the new wonder drug? i truly believe in the enabling power of technology but its doesn’t have miraculous healing powers. but i also believe that hiding behind a screen name doesn’t a communicator make. there’s sort of a lot i can say on the matter but that’ll become another rant. i shall look up that book you mentioned. i wanna read V for Vendetta as well, coz i’m about 80% sure that the book will be better than the movie.

    ali: thanks but stop feeling me please

  4. Maryam, I say you are right. One thing to remember: it is not a reflection on you if someone does not have the decency to respond in a couteous fashion. It is just their pig-ignorant foolishness.

    Don’t feel bad about yourself if you come into contact with rude people. Tell ’em Mr Angry is in your posse and will sort them out if they’re not careful.

  5. “pig-ignorant foolishness” I LOVE your usage of the term pig as a prefix to most insults. Its really funny and new coz i’ve not heard it being used in this manner before πŸ™‚

    Also, I’m doing a little dance upon acceptance into your posse. I may require you to write a rude, outraged and much insultive (yes i made it up) post about something/one…some time.

  6. Yup this post is what I’ve always thought fleetingly about and now finally someone’s gone and put pen to paper (figuratively speaking of course). Very insightful, I see elements of myself all throughout this post.

  7. This bit in particular:

    “To a point the sexiness of instant messaging has waned. Its so easy and so accessible, the magic’s gone and we’re super bored with the concept.”

    When ICQ and IM first came out I was really good. I’d see people’s name pop-up to let me know they were online, and I’d instantly type “Hi! What are you up to?”. The conversation would go on from there.

    Then IM infiltrated the workplace. IM moved from a tool for social communication to a tool allowing colleagues a new ability to harass you and demand answers to work related matters.

    Now when I see someone pop-up on IM I don’t type anything. In fact, as of last week I don’t even log on anymore…

  8. Lucky for me I’m entirely unimportant in my place of business and don’t have to rely on Skype for instant messaging the nit wits in S’pore…Now i just use msn to entertain me at work.

  9. Pingback: Tech Heads « Something To Be

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