Monday, September 12, 2011

Email communication: crises averted

Of the many technological conveniences available to us today, email is probably my favorite. Actually, there's no "probably" about it; email helps me avert crises on a daily basis. For example:

Crisis #1 (at work). You need to ask someone a question, but don't want to do it face-to-face for at least one of several reasons: (1) You don't like the person, (2) the person is currently unavailable, (3) it will take longer to gather up the courage to interrupt someone in their "important" work than it will to shoot them an email, (4) You are too lazy to yell or leave your chair.
Crisis averted: By sending an email, you save yourself the trouble of leaving your chair and approaching someone who also doesn't want to leave their chair or who is otherwise engaged. Tone and facial expression are also absent, so it is harder for the person to detect that you don't like them.

Crisis #2 (at church). During Relief Society, someone bubbly announces that the month is almost over and that it is time to call your visiting teaching supervisor and confirm that you were awesome enough to encroach on someone's personal life for a half hour.
Crisis averted: Half the time I don't know who my visiting teaching supervisor is, and if I only communicate with them through email, then chances are they won't know who I am either, which reduces the likelihood of them hunting me down. And, coming from a person who has been a VT supervisor twice, the supervisor will love you for reporting your success/failure without taking any of their time, and they really will leave you alone.

Crisis #3 (anywhere): Someone delivers a brilliantly concocted insult and you have no comeback.
Crisis averted: Email gives you the extra time you need to fabricate a few well-chosen words, even if the insult wiped your mind blank during its initial delivery. Of course, this only works when someone insults you via email, though sending the offending person an "oh yeah?" email isn't a complete waste of time.

Crisis #4 (at work): You work with words and information on a regular basis, which requires you to not only read a lot, but to be all-knowing.
Crisis averted: The email attachment feature is a godsend.

Crisis #5 (anywhere): You need to give a large group of people the same information.
Crisis averted: This one is pretty self-explanatory unless you're 80 years old and have never used a computer before.

Imagine the dilemmas you will be faced with in the event that your email provider fails you: people will have to be confronted, ancient means of sharing information (i.e., paper) will have to be used to distribute information, and a lot of "I don't knows" and "I'll have to get back to you on thats" will replace your brilliantly constructed (and grammatically correct) dialogue.

Actually, what really happens is this: deadlines are missed, vital communication doesn't happen, work-at-homers get lost in the vortex of loneliness, and we all sit in the dark, frustrated that our perfectly legitimate excuses for laziness are no longer valid but secretly glad that we can blame our inactivity on inefficient technology.

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