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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The busy signal, and beyond.

When you call my house, it's possible to get a busy signal. How often does that happen anymore? It's getting rarer all the time. Think about it. If you call someone and they don't answer, I bet that most of the time your call will go to voice mail. Sometimes the call is automatically transferred to another number, such as a cell phone. I use no such services. A caller to my house may get to experience the rare frustration of knowing that someone is home but they can't even leave a message. I don't care. If it's important, they can call back. If it isn't, best they don't.

Then there is the service I absolutely loath: call waiting. There you are, talking on the phone with someone, and call waiting breaks in alerting the other person there's another call. Then you may have the person quickly break off your call to speak with the other person. Here's the thing, the person with call waiting is making judgment calls on who's more important to talk to. Even if the person decides in your favor, the nature of your phone call has changed. The flow of conversation has been interrupted. The caller may be wondering if maybe he should have taken that call after all. He may wonder what the call was all about. Attention wanders.

Another thing I don't have is caller ID. Okay, maybe I'm just too cheap to pay for the service. When I pick up the phone I have no idea who the heck I'm going to be taking to. There's no mental preparation on what I'm going to say. I see people check caller ID and not answer. "Let it go to voice mail, I'm not interested in talking to that person right now." People who are used to getting gently shuffled off to voice mail don't get that with me. They get me. Maybe not for long, but it's me. I might be rude, crude or offensive, but it's a chance you take when you call my number.

I spend a fair amount of time on a computer, (maybe too much) but there are some services I don't use. When Instant Chat became popular, I sat that one out. Often when at a computer I'm writing and don't want my thinking interrupted. That's why my computer doesn't let me know when I have e-mail. When I decide to check my mail, I check my mail. Have not been a fan of automatic notifications since way back when I was kid and had to use an alarm clock to get up for school.

I don't do Facebook as it's too much of a time sink and has crappy privacy controls.

One thing I grudgingly choose to use is an answering machine. Sometimes it's important that people be able to leave a message. I could be home, but not in the house. It's a long hike up from the lake, or my land across the road.

Is it possible I'm missing something important because I can't be reached at all times? Maybe. Think about it though, if you can be reached at all times, could be be missing out on the real world? Face it, most of the calls most people get could wait.

Other people can decide for themselves how much electronic intrusion they want in their world. I just want them to be aware it is a choice and does have costs. These things tend to sneak up on people and before they know it, they are interacting with the world in a way then never intended.

Be here now.

That works for me.

-Sixbears

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