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Monday, September 7, 2009

When Immediate Gratification Isn’t Fast Enough

Email, Facebook, Twitter, Tweets, LinkedIn, Texting, Skye, PDAs, wiki, blogs, Ryze, Tribes.net, Jabber, IRC, etc. The hottest topic in business these days is the importance of leveraging social networks as a business tool. It seems imperative that we join groups and communicate RIGHT NOW!!! I can’t help but wonder, is this really a good thing?

True story: I was editing a job at a video house in Los Angeles a few years ago, and I took a minute to run down the hall to the bathroom. Three minutes tops, I swear. When I got back to the editing suite, I discovered that a Hollywood producer had called my cell phone and was livid when I didn’t answer. Not annoyed - livid! I immediately returned his call and got an earful. “I went to the john. Did you really expect me to take my phone into the stall?” I joked. Yes, he did. I believe that his exact words were, “Your bodily functions shouldn’t be an inconvenience to me.”

Now admitedly, this was Hollywood, where everyone has an inflated opinion of the value of their self-worth. But still…..

My husband and I have a friend, several friends actually, who upon failing to reach one of our cell phones immediately calls the other to ask, “Where is Kay/Brad?” My mother used to do this constantly, hunting me down like a bloodhound on an escaped convict. When did it get to be my responsibility to be available to everyone 24/7?

I understand the concept of social networking. I’m trying to embrace it – really I am. But it’s getting to be a fulltime job.

E-mail is bizarre; even with my spam filter, I get about 60 to 70 emails a day. Those are divided fairly evenly between

1. opportunities to get a Ph.D. using only my “life experience,”

2. notifications of terrible deaths of government officials in Nigeria who have inexplicably left $6,000,000 of absolutely legal money and desperately need to run it through my bank account and, finally,

3. friends who send me jokes, YouTube clips, photos of cats, links to newspaper articles and, very rarely but occasionally, some actual information of interest.

I have a question: Does getting a link to a YouTube clip constitute legitimate social networking? Even if it is that really amazing clip of Chris Bliss juggling to a Beatles medley? I doubt it.

Facebook is an actual social network although it’s awfully time-consuming and I’m not sure just how it’s going to help me further my career.

I still don’t get Twitter. Although I actually do tweet from time to time, but I’ve never learned a single interesting piece of newsworthy information from a tweet and I’m beginning to think it’s a complete waste of time (please don’t tell Aston Kucher, though). And if you’ve got a PDA, you can text your tweet to Twitter. Furthermore, my friend Kathy Kamauu (who is an expert in this stuff) assures me that I can automatically update my LinkedIn status every time I post a tweet in Twitter via a Ping.fm account. Because it’s terribly important to revise my user timeline faster! Faster, faster, faster….

Why? And at what cost?

Lots of employers will now only accept a resume via email. Remember when you agonized over which paper stock would make your resume stand out from the crowd? Forget that now. You have lost control over how your resume will look or how their particular printer will format the pages.

A few years ago I was between gigs and already had a big trip to France planned and paid for so, on a lark, I applied for a temporary month-long telemarketing job. I scored well in the written materials but during my face-to-face interview, right out of the gate the guy asked me, “Quick, what is your worst fault?” I paused for a moment because, frankly, I have an array of crappy attributes from which to choose and I was trying to decide which was my most despicable. After exactly five seconds (he was keeping track) he told me, “Never mind, you already failed the test. You can leave.”

“Gee, what just happened? I wanted to give you an absolutely truthful answer.”

“We don’t want a truthful answer,” he explained. “We want a fast answer. If they have even five seconds to think, they might realize that buying a timeshare on Kauai is probably not a practical thing to do. We don’t want ever want you to stop to think because it allows them to think, and thinking isn’t good for business.”

In other words, thinking is a bad thing. Speed is a good thing today typing w/out capitals or punctuation is faster UR seeing the future of tomorrows business letters LOL


  1. This may be your best one yet ... but they are all valuable. This reminded me of something I might have expected Andy Rooney to have written.

    Aren't you glad that I only rarely send you emails? Thus you know that when I do, they should fall to the top of your 60 others as a top priority.

    The Hollywood Guy needs a life!
    The Time-Share guy might consider that when people are investing their life savings into property, that they are making important conscious decisions that might appreciate a accurately thought out respose as opposed to a smooth talking, fast answer shyster.

    PS ... the soial network got me to your blog and proudly I remain Twitterless.

  2. It is Pavlovian by nature. Ring the wireless, salivate, eh. Good thing is that technology, with its inherent benefits to problems ratio, is self limiting by nature.

  3. I don't understand the whole Twitter thing. I don't want to know what anyone had for breakfast, or when they are headed to the beach, or what new trick they taught their dog. The worst is people who Tweet passages from the Bible. I hate that.