Having recently jumped on the smartphone train, I have become increasingly aware of a few glaring problems they are creating, specifically in regards to email.
Formal Email Communication is Disappearing
While I was still riding the dumbphone train, I was quick to make fun of emails I would get from people with smartphones. You can always tell when an email comes from a smartphone because it will include very limited punctuation and no line breaks. Now that I have joined the dark side I still find the total abuse of written English disturbing, though I more thoroughly understand why it’s happening.
Smartphones are difficult, at best, to type on. Therefore, we use as few words (and, in many cases, as few letters) as possible to convey the message at hand. Hey – I’m all about some efficient communication, but there is a point at which communication becomes confusion.
The Inability to Comprehend and Respond
We’ve all experienced it – there is just about nothing worse than sending someone a well thought out, long email containing multiple thoughts or questions and receiving a short, mindless response to only ONE of those thoughts or questions. This phenomenon became one of my pet peeves long before smartphones hit the market, but I believe smartphones have done nothing but worsen the climate for this type of behavior.
Smartphones are more difficult to read emails on than a full-sized PC, so, when we receive lengthy emails, we skim through them in frustration and instantly reply to the first (or sometimes the last) piece of information in the email. This, in turn, results in one of two problematic results. Either an increase in email traffic results (caused by subsequent emails to iron out the details that should have been addressed in the first reply), or the questions/thoughts are left to die, resulting in a communication breakdown.
Possibly the worst problem I’ve noticed is the one I’m the most guilty of – that of receiving emails and being flat-out too lazy to respond to them at the moment. More often than not, these forgotten emails end up never receiving a second thought, let alone an actual response.
I don’t really believe any of these problems are new, but they are becoming worse with the proliferation of smartphones. Going forward, we must consciously fight against these problems or risk falling further into a degraded state of human communication.
Also, it’s about time for some Led Zeppelin action.
“Communication Breakdown, It’s always the same,
I’m having a nervous breakdown, Drive me insane!”
Photos taken from Google Image Search.