Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ignored on the Internet

For the past 3 months I have been doing 2 jobs for the company who pays my salary:
- my regular job, in which I wear no less than 4 hats on any given day
- and project lead for an activity, now completed, that has locked in half a million dollars in savings annually.
(I work for a really big company)

Anyone who is a mom, knows that you never stop being a mom, no matter how crazy the rest of your life gets.   Managing a household doesn't go away either unless you are willing to live in squalor; I'm not. As a postKatrina neighborhood leader, there are times when it feels like I'm working at this and the response time and dedication to neighborhood issues needs to be as good as what the people who pay me get. It can't be or I wouldn't have a job.

Why do I post this?   Because posts to this blog, to the neighborhood blog, and responses to email other than those at work have been sporadic at best.  And because I read an article in the newspaper today, over a cup of coffee and my quiche made by my own hands, about how not responding to "the ether" that is eMail is potentially rude.

The article quotes another author saying: "the No. 1 complaint is that 'people feel they’re being ignored.' "

And I can respect that.  I have 4 eMail accounts that I manage: the one a work, my own personal "Nola as mom" email account, the one for the neighborhood organization (and thankfully I have help here), and my email account as a Strega.  Sometimes the last 2 don't get as much attention.  Is that rude? I can see how those who only communicate with one aspect of "me" might think so.  But it's not rude; it's the physical limitations of being human and not virtual or electronic.  There is only so much "resource sharing" a human can do. It's not that I don't love you... it is just that there is only so much of any one person to go around. And the eMail associated with work and the capacity to get a pay check will *always* win.  Is this an excuse? No, as a trained scientist I can say, this is supporting data for the effect noticed.

My beef with the author is that he mixes professional-they are paying you-eMail with personal.  It is so NOT the same.  Like it or not eMail as work is a tool. When responses are required there is no excuse. And if you can't get to the task or need more time then the *only* professional thing to do is reply with *when* you will be able t o accomplish what the email has requested. And for inside the company mail, there is always the "return receipt" option if it is really, really important.

I think the real reason that people don't respond as fast as some would like is that we are overwhelmed with communication: Voice mail messages on office phone, on cell phone, on home phone; Multiple email addresses (by necessity); And then there is texting... and facebook and now Google+. Overload doesn't begin to describe...  It seems the people who are most likely to be annoyed are those individuals who have one life, one job, one, for lack of a better word, "identity".  Those of us who have more facets to our lives have it harder and this can manifest itself as non-responsive. 

The only other option is to constantly have you face in your smartphone and respond to all the electronic communications and tune out face to face communications.  You tell me... which is "more rude"?

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