Digital Zeal Gone Bad
Following a weekend of birthday celebrations, my musings on a rainy Sunday are simple, prompted by the latest overwrought flurry of communication by a certain self-styled luminary in my midst. I respect him, I read him, I share his intelligence with friends -- but I never opted into his email-newsletter-microblogging empire. I feel I have been tricked into immersion.
And, even if I've subscribed to someone's column and its companion e-letter, it doesn't mean I've opted in to every single possible manifestation of his message. Following my original subscription, an author should be judicious in continually asking me to follow, friend or otherwise link with him. My single opt-in also does not, I believe, entitle him to batch me into a larger "Friends of X" mailing list, to which I have not opted in. And last but certainly not least, I hope said author will be cautious about sharing cozy family holiday photos. We do not have a personal relationship, and I do not necessarily care to receive these.
Another example of digital zeal gone bad: holiday tidings. Where there are quality business or personal relationships, it seems we should be wary of the e-card or others of that ilk. Without thoughtful scripting, we risk the impersonal approach, along with other issues. This past holiday I was tickled to receive a "reminder" from one of the e-card services that I had "not yet read" the card sent to me by a friend. The reminder indicated that the greeting would "expire in 5 days." It makes the heart tremble with sincerity, doesn't it? There are certainly benefits to digitized tidings -- their efficiency, their "greenness" and more. But caution and artful usage are important!
I recently received a sales pitch for a product that would digitize all my client and "key personal communications" and make them "look" handwritten, as I certainly "don't have time to hand write." While I greatly appreciate efficiency, there will never, ever come a day that I run out of time to write a note or letter to a client I appreciate or a friend I love. Sure, I will continue to email, share, congregate, network and link in digital channels -- but these suggestions of outright replacement for the personal touch, triggered by too much digital zeal, fall flat.For me, where go the hand-held, the keyboard, and the three screens - so go the magazine, paper, the card and the pencil. And, in that spirit, it's useful for us to remember that though we all travel these times of great media convergence together, discretion in using digital is part of playing smart on the playground we share.