Thought Catalog
July 14, 2015

If You Do This, You’re A Monster

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What is the issue?
Matthew Pearce
Matthew Pearce

No, I’m not talking about reclining your seat on an airplane or taking your shoes off in public places

I’m not talking about talking on speaker phone outside the privacy of your car or home or worse, listening to music without headphones at the gym or on a motorcycle.

I’m not even talking about murdering babies or liking Two and a Half Men.

I’m talking about sending voice and video texts (or emails). When I first recognized that this was becoming an acceptable form of business communication from anyone who doesn’t have a disability of some kind, I couldn’t believe my eyes or my ears.

Yet here we are–apparently all the cool productive people are doing it.

Let me get this straight. You think you’re so important than instead of spending 5 minutes assembling your thoughts into coherent and clear sentences, you thought it’d be better to send an unedited 3 minute stream of consciousness audio file that we, as the recipient have to download and listen to? Instead of actually calling and interacting with someone like a human being, you thought it’d be better to just record it and lob it over.

Oh but it’s easier for you that way? Fuck you. Fuck you in your self-important, externalizing face.

I’d rather get a physical letter filled with glitter than another audio/video message.

Everyone is busy. We all know that time is money. But as conscious beings in a social species we would never do that to you–because we’re civilized, respectful people. Honestly, we didn’t even know that this was a feature on our phones until we got it from you. It’s like you actively explored how to most inconvenience others.

A few days ago, I was on a run with my iTunes on shuffle. Right in the middle of getting into the zone, what comes on? Some obnoxious voice memo from someone too lazy to go through an email and respond to things line by line–one I’d been forced to download in order to listen to and was now stuck in my computer somewhere. A few weeks ago, I got an email from someone who wanted to write a book. When I wrote them back with a few questions, they replied with a five minute video recorded while they were out to lunch (if that isn’t a fitting metaphor). That’s a real bad sign, I told them, because last time I checked books require writing.  

Of course, none of these people mean to be rude. They don’t mean to push work onto you.

But to a certain extent, they also do. They did a quick calculation and in a world of outsourcing, digitization, and productivity hacks thought nothing of sloughing off a basic human responsibility onto everyone else. They might never say explicitly that they think their comfort is more valuable than yours, but implicitly this is what they’re saying.

As Frank Lutz put it, it’s not what you say it’s what people hear.

Well, we hear two things when you say this: One is about your self-importance. The other is that you’re being a douche.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: Ask yourself what the world would be like if everyone did it that way? Would you want to live in that world?

But maybe you don’t care about that. Fine. Stop for another reason: it’s totally ineffective.

Two people talking to each other live–that works. One person typing up their thoughts or instructions or questions in clear language for the other person to respond to in kind when they can? That works too (it’s my preferred method).

What doesn’t work is some extemporaneous rambling message that we have to listen to three times to figure out what you’re saying as silverware clanks, wind blows and some other shiny thing distracts you in the background. What doesn’t work is something we have to reply to in email or text message anyway. What doesn’t work is some file we have to download, or have to interrupt what we’re doing to address (or defer until later because we can’t).

It’s rude, sure. But worse it’s stupid.

So stop. TC mark

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