The proliferation of ways we have to communicate with each other is having some sad side effects. The first being colossal boredom.
The late Director Stanley Kubrick saw it coming in his film “2001:” the ability for a father to connect with his daughter from a shuttle on route to the Moon and have nothing more to say than “how ya doin’” and “where’s mommy?”
Through the miracle of Facebook and Twitter I can learn (whether I want to or not) every dull detail of the lives of friends I didn’t know I had and if I did wouldn’t want. “I’m at the mall, picking my nose.” “started diet today. 300 pounds to go.” I can post hi-rez images of a cold sore taken with my iPhone and get a dozen “likes” for my efforts.
Even the flow of useful information is running into turbulent waters as shared opinion outpaces the gathering of simple facts. A video made in 2003 can suddenly set a world of angered adolescents on the trail of Ugandan rebel leader who by now may be dead or operating a Burger King franchise in Peoria. Millions of dollars are offered up with no real sense of where they might be headed. At the same time, the rush to judgement of a particularly unpleasant looking Neighbourhood Watch member in Florida stampedes any possibility that he was indeed “standing his ground” against a six-foot-three seventeen year old shown in the media at age fourteen.
But the most disturbing aspect of our new “voice” is the reduction of dialogue to sound and text “bites.” Even with unlimited texting we have been reduced to expressing one thought at a time. And answering one question at a time. Worse, this byproduct of electronic communication is carrying over to normal conversation.
Consider this exchange overheard at a Dairy Queen:
Customer: “I’d like a medium chocolate dip waffle cone.
Server: “What size?”
Server: “Regular cone or waffle?”
Server: “Chocolate or caramel?”
Server: “Anything else?”
Customer: “I was thinking maybe a burger … but no.”