Somewhere between reading is fundamental and no child left behind we became a nation of scanners whose ability to capture details within a written communication plays out like a game of Battleship. Take my last three days… please. I send an email that says please contact this person via email, his email address can be found be below. Soon thereafter, I receive a beautifully written response with a request that I email it to the person because the sender cannot find the recipient’s email address.
I am the manger of a youth baseball team and countless times I send out practice times, dates, and locations. Yet, in responses to those very same emails, or emails sent a day earlier, I am asked the same questions of which the answers have already appeared.
I mean not to pick or demean. This problem is universal. We are essentially deaf to the white noise that crosses our computers or Blackberry’s on a daily basis. We scan for the gist, move to the next thing, and return to the concern as if nothing has ever been provided. I could simply blame it all on Outlook’s lousy search mechanism, which actually could not find Grant in his Tomb, but I don’t think most folks even try. So what do we do?
The more sophisticated our communications, the less we comprehend. Therefore, I guess that means we should just return to messengers on horseback or carrier pidgins. But before you throw away your new IPhone (you would still need to pay the monthly’s) consider this: reading is still actually fundamental. There’s no shortcut. I am not trying to sound school marmish ( is that a word) or lecture to the young texters but the simple truth of the matter is that if you skip over words, you’re gonna miss stuff and annoy the crap out of people by asking them questions seeking information that has already been provided to you.
Ok, there I said it. Do I feel better? Maybe, just a little. At least until I get that next email asking me…