These days people communicate in funny ways. I often wonder if anyone is paying attention to the words they write down (forget what they say -- we either babble or murmur). But if someone goes "Speaking of" while responding to you, have you noticed it rarely has anything to do with what you said? I don't believe the meanings of ages-old terms rejoinder, response, retort, or relevance are in most vocabularies.
Which brings me to...
I have gotten a spate of strange returned emails lobbed my way from people who don't realize I read. For instance, a close pal's father died after a long illness and she asked me to contact a particular childhood friend so I did it by email, not knowing another way to reach him.
This guy is an actor of a little renown and I'd been following his career off and on. But I didn't bother saying anything to him about a Xerox spot I'd seen him in as I reported a dollop of sad, serious news.
Imagine some shock when he replied "Thanks. Hey, I have a show opening..." in such an order. I just couldn't see whether he thought his signature statement of ultimate hype was in order on that wistful day.
I almost wrote back and said "You're an ass" but I realized he would probably use that in a soliloquy in some class. No way was I giving him material! Rather I added it to my Ridiculous Responses file and moved on from there.
Then not a long while after it happened again. I wrote someone to tell her something that was important for her, career wise, and was shot down with "I'm really very busy right now." Did she read a word? If you have your eyes open today you know anyone who uses "I'm busy" is desperate to seem so. This time I wrote back: "Hey dumb ass. Did you read what I said? I don't need or want anything. This is for you to have and hold." She explained herself pretty poorly.
"You should know it's impossible for me to reply to everything."
What planet did this emanate from? I also don't respond to everything but I don't tell people that. Self-importance had been granted a new definition. This time I asked: "Do you think my act of helping you is a burst that I should control?" Now it was getting ridiculous when she said: "Yes, when I have time I'll be in touch."
It took me about 10 minutes to remove her from every database and social-media account I could think of that minute
Then. The other day a particular email reply convinced me no one I know is paying attention to the back-and-forth. It's not "attention span disorder" as much as lackadaisical living. It's as if nothing is that important. Has all our screen-staring turned us into sleeping beings?
Witness the scene:
A guy I know from the land of email sent by me a super cool Christmas card -- in the mail -- and I saw it was personalized on the cover. I sat and stared at it for some time. (It was a cold day and I wanted to hang in!) Yet, after receiving a hundred or so thinly disguised e-cards thoughtlessly forwarded that Christmas season, this one hit one of my good nerves. A self-created card with meaning was damn unexpected.
I had the best intentions when I emailed the dude to say it was the best card of the seasons. I don't surprise that easily and he bowled me over. Didn't write him it so he would think it was cool I took the time to thank him. It was a pure moment of emotion between colleagues.
In return he said "Yeah good" while proceeding to sell me on his new seminar program of hour-long bla bla bla. My act was returned with social ignominy. Does he think there is anyone with money who would visit his link after that? On second thought he probably thinks one in 1000.
Words are the least appreciated part of the English language. I suppose we now live in a two-for-one world: You say one thing and I ignore it by telling you what is on my mind. There is little talking back. I no longer blame text-messaging habits or IM's, status making, tweeter-madness or +ing!. Nope, it's us. We're just not that into communication. All of us are broadcasters who advertise what's on our mind that minute.
Because after all nobody's reading it anyway.
Just me, checking to see if you made it this far.