Comings and Goings


Every once and a while my primitive (by design) phone tells me that I need to delete some text messages because my text message box is full.  So, I obey.

What is striking about the process is what a large share of all messages involve picking people up, coordinating schedules and confirming that you’ve received information that has been texted to you.  Once those messages are cleared out, there is surprisingly little of substance.  Some phones (like my daughter’s) apparently even have canned messages for this kind of thing.

This says something, no only about the medium, but about the content of ordinary conversation in the connected age.  We have become very reliant in an etiquette sense on keeping people apprised of our comings and goings.  Everyone must be coordinated with everyone else in real time.

We haven’t gotten to the point where everyone in a family has GPS data all the time in real time about everyone else in the family as a matter of course for most people, but the capability is there and it is probably only a matter of time before the social obligation to let people know when you’ll arrive, and the public safety harm of constant texting, will make that feature a standard option for most people.

Caveats and Related Points

Now, this may simply reflect the fact that I’m a member of Generation X and also don’t have a large circle of social friends who like to communicate by text (an imperfectly correlated aspect of my generation).  Maybe other people say more in that matter.  I also don’t have a Twitter account and have only the dimmest of basic ideas about how that medium that uses text message sized posts works, and I know that people sometimes engage in more substantial conversations via Twitter (even academic discussions), so your mileage may vary.

I do know, however, that I really dislike voice mail relative to e-mail and texts.  I’ve disabled it on my cell phone and almost completely replaced it with old school hand written messages at the office.  Voice mail is inconvenient for taking down people’s phone numbers, doesn’t prompt people to provide the information that you need, and takes a comparatively long time to listen to.  Not surprisingly, studies have shown that voice mail is reviewed much less frequently and after much longer delays than texts.

Also, while having your life wrapped up in one easily destroyed gadget has its drawbacks, to the extent that the information on it is backed up in the cloud and password (or perhaps biometric sensor or similar key) protected, there is something to it when that one gadget can be tracked with GPS.

If you, for example, lose your wallet on the bus, you are likely never to see it again, surely will lose any money on it and will have compromised the credit cards in short order, and may be a victim of identity theft.  Lose your trackable, content protected, cloud information stored phone, in contrast, and you are much more likely to get it back, it has much less value to a thief, and if it is destroyed, you lose only the hardware which is often insured anyway.

Increased security similar to ATM cards will be coming to credit cards in the next year or two.  Technologies that make concealed firearms work only in the presence of a ring worn by the authorized user are also reality, as are similar systems in which a car is keyless but requires a key to be located in the driver’s seat area for the car to be started (a function that could easily be migrated to a particular telephone).

All of these technologies make it increasingly hard to be a petty thief and make a living at it these days.

from Wash Park Prophet
via Denver News

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