Commentary

Digital Zeal Gone Bad

Often, through no fault of its own, digital implementation takes things too far. Even with our best intentions for integrated media usage, concerted social media applications, or transformation of the traditional to digital, it's possible to pour it on too thick.

 

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.

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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.
3 comments about "Digital Zeal Gone Bad".
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  1. Michelle Cubas from Positive Potentials LLC, January 25, 2010 at 2:55 p.m.

    Dear Kendall,

    Ah, a kindred spirit! Just published, "What Have You Done to Earn Space in My Inbox!" http://bit.ly/8zkpwL on the same theme.

    Each client receives from me the promise that I won't waste their time. And, when they do hear from me it will be relevant to the.

    I would appreciate that promise from others. What disturbs me most is the false urgency that surrounds the tsunami of email notices.

    Also, I'm with you on handwritten notes. My stationery is a marketing tool. Even my handwriting draws comments. I even use a special pen so my intention is embedded in each correspondence. This is a big differentiator for me. It is all underscored with authenticity.

    Lastly, this is generational linked to courtesy. Of course, not every Gen X or Y lacks social skills. I do contend they would benefit from greater understanding of the impact in job interviews and business development.

    Thanks for discussing this important topic. -MC

  2. Rosanne Gain from Gain - Stovall, Inc., January 25, 2010 at 9:51 p.m.

    Kendall, thanks so much for your thoughtful comments in this article. While electronic communication, when used with thoughtfulness and discretion, is a useful tool it will not replace the phone call, hand written note and getting together for a cup of coffee to catch up face to face. Like Michelle, we have note cards with our logo on the front and sufficient space inside to thank a prospective client for their time or to congratulate a business person who has done well by doing good. Regards, Rosanne

  3. Walter Sabo from HitViews, January 26, 2010 at 1:22 p.m.

    "musings on a rainy Saturday..." I wish my thoughts were so profounding they qualified as Musings! I'm just happy to be awake.'

    An e-card isn't much tackier than a card with a name pre-printed to 300 people.

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