A New York Times columnist sparked an online skirmish about etiquette this month with a grumpy tirade against what he sees as digital time-wasters:
Some people are so rude, wrote the Times' Nick Bilton. Really, who sends an e-mail or text message that just says 'Thank you?' Who leaves a voice mail when you don't answer, rather than texting you? Who asks for a fact easily found on Google?
Don't these people realize that they're wasting your time?
The column generated upwards of 600 comments, with the most negative reserved for how Bilton's apparently harried life plays out in his communication mandates to Mom and Dad:
My father learned this lesson last year after leaving me a dozen voice mail messages, none of which I listened to, Bilton wrote. Exasperated, he called my sister to complain that I never returned his calls. 'Why are you leaving him voice mails?' my sister asked. 'No one listens to voice mail anymore. Just text him.'
My mother realized this long ago. Now we communicate mostly through Twitter. . .
One comment summed up what many readers seemed to be feeling: ''My heart breaks for this man's father.''
Count me as squarely in that commenter's camp.
Even so, Bilton did make some good points about the perils of trying to communicate in our over-connected, over-wired world. I think there's a special place in hell for people who insist on texting me, even after I've repeatedly said I'd rather get an old-fashioned phone call or the dreaded email. My nieces and nephews, though, are about as likely to pick up a telephone as they are to motor down to the Western Union office in a Model T and send me a telegram. So I text.
Loved U on Utube. LOL
Bilton is also irritated by people who ask questions easily answered on the Internet. The weather. Directions. If his column portends the end of a civil society. (Just kidding on that last one).
He interviewed another curmudgeon for the article, a man who happened to be an author. This guy carped about people who ask him via social media where they can buy his book, rather than simply turning to Google for that information. I don't know about you, but I'm HAPPY when somebody asks how to buy my book. No way would I snarkily reply with the link lmgtfy.com, which stands for Let Me Google That For You.
How about you? What's your preferred communication mode? Do you send thank-you emails, or consider them time-wasters? Do you make your mother reach out and touch you through Twitter?