Getting a message from point A to point B is a lot easier these days, what with all the new technology tied to the Internet. But exactly which route you choose to send your message may well determine whether or not you’ve communicated effectively. Contributing Editor, Ron Carmean, takes a crack at sorting the mail today…
Want to contact someone? Wonderful. I know they will appreciate it. There was a time when many people could not read or write, and conversation –face-to-face– was necessary to get a point across. Of course, Tom Jefferson, John Adams, and Old Ben (aka Doctor) Franklin kept each other informed through long, hand written letters. I think they had them delivered by someone “who was going in the general direction of their friends.” That is, until Franklin got the postal service up and running when he was appointed the first Postmaster General in 1775.
Later, the choice of delivery methods improved. The stage coach and pony express carried your message near and a little farther. Later still, mail bags were dropped off by train or plane to your general area and…I’m not sure exactly how a letter made the last step of its journey. Finally, the ultimate in convenience: mailmen (and eventually mailwomen) appeared at your door almost daily. They walked their delivery route and “neither rain, nor snow, nor gloom of night kept them from their appointed rounds.” All of older folks grew up with this postal service. We not only got our mail, but TVGuide, Time/Newsweek, an occasional “men’s magazine” (for the interviews, of course), plus the ever present “junk mail” (eg, circulars advertising all manner of bargains at a wide variety of stores –some of which we actually visited).
And, now, there are at least 4 new methods of communication covering vast distances almost instantly. Of course, I’m talking about email, texting, twitter, and Skype. Let me explain each one to you. No, wait: I think that’s called “insulting the readers’ intelligence.” You know about them all, probably as well as I do—maybe better. But which method is best? In my opinion, it depends upon what each method provides you.
Email enables you to discuss your thoughts, feelings, ideas with someone. You can take your time writing, eh, typing it. You can think before you send it, making sure it conveys exactly what you want. The space available to you is virtually unlimited.
Texting, too, lets you convey a thought, feeling, suggestion, idea to someone –as long as you limit your message to 160 characters. Brevity is necessary. Elaboration is not possible. Since you are speaking to only a specific person, confidentiality can be maintained…as long as the person on the other end wants it to be. Sexting is cautioned against. You may run for public office one day and pictures of you—long thought private—will return, in public view, to embarrass you and amuse others.
Twitter also enables brief contact with someone or many people. Any of your followers, for example. Your message is limited to 140 characters and, obviously, no confidentiality exists. When you are rich and famous, this could be your primary method of communicating directly with your adoring public.
Skype is like being with another person—except you’re not. You can say anything you want and another person will know what you say and how you look saying it instantly. It’s a “live” conversation, with no time to plan everything you’ll say. Extemporaneous is the key word here. But, for the most part, you’re talking to a friend here, right? They will separate the wheat from the chaff and take from the conversation exactly what you wish…they will, won’t they? Note: Skype can be used for business meetings, too. Caution: the wheat/chaffing analogy doesn’t always work during business Skypes since not everyone present may be your friend!
Knowing what each method of communication provides you and how it limits you, plus a dollop of common sense, will guide what you say in each. You don’t need more advice from me. Just choose wisely and enjoy what modern technology has provided you…and you won’t have to worry about the rain or snow or gloom of night stuff.