Thursday, March 5, 2015

E-communications: A Reality Check

A friend asked me for some help with a project he's working on, a few suggestions for short stories that might be apt for sparking a child's imagination. I'm not an expert--not even remotely--on children's literature, and I told him that, but he wasn't interested in the traditional stories for kids, so I agreed to come up with some ideas. I compiled a list--dove into my favorites, reread a few (some as a refresher, some just for the sheer pleasure they bring), checked to see whether they were available online somewhere, etc.--and emailed it to him.

And waited.

I wasn't sure how helpful I'd be... Whether my suggestions were PG-13 appropriate, whether they were too long or too short, whether they'd serve for the purpose he intended them. So, yes, I was kind of anxious to hear what he thought. After two days, I went to my inbox and did a global search: could I have missed his response? Could it have gone into the Spam folder? Had I sent it to the right address?

Everything checked out fine. And no, there was no reply.

Before pulling out my violin and climbing up to the rooftop to bemoan my friend's ingratitude in hauntingly melancholic tones (no drama queen here; I'm the freakin' empress), in a moment of enlightened maturity I decided to ask. "Hey. Did you get my email?"

What email, came the response.

Turns out the only way this dude checks his inbox is if you tell him you sent him an email. So I resent it, told him I'd resent it, and he confirmed he'd received it. Yay.

But it got me thinking. Email is a central part of my life. Email, Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype, the blog, social media in general--they're how I stay in touch with the world. Not just with friends and family; my critique group, my publisher, my journalism contacts. Even my dushi Skypes me when he's at the office.

This friend of mine, except for Facebook, uses none of the above.

Perhaps it's my ex-pat status. Or the fact I live in a small island no one's heard of. A large part of the people I speak to every day are too far away for face-to-face contact. But--again, the dushi-with-Skype example above. And it's not just him; most of my island friends are either on Whatsapp or Facebook (or both), and that's what we use to communicate.

So tell me, then. Am I weird? How do you communicate with your world? Do e-communications play a large part in your life? Are they a good thing? Or are we, in Fahrenheit-451-dystopia style, trading real contact for cyber-versions of ourselves?


  1. Yes, social media is extremely important, or I should say, vital, to me as well. I use facebook to keep in contact with my family and friends a world away back in England. Whatsapp keeps me connected with my English students/parents/Malaysian family in Borneo. We skype my English family every Saturday plus I'm always checking my emails. Blogging has also brought me many unbelievable opportunities here in Kuantan. We have stayed at hotels for free and got to know many great people simply through my blog!

    Duncan In Kuantan

    1. Thank you for making me feel normal, Duncan :) That's so cool, by the way, about your blog being the vehicle for all these opportunities--good for you!

  2. I hate talking on the phone so if someone wants to reach me, they'd better email me! My husband has a friend who refuses to get on Facebook, text, do email--any of that. She'll call him every few months to check in but she just has no interest in being online. It's such a great way to stay in touch with people, though--but I guess talking on the phone has a more personal touch to it. I just don't have time to listen to someone ramble on for hours!

  3. I'd be lost without email. Twitter too.
    on FB, an occasional visit.
    Unacknowledged mail gets me confused too.


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