Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why talk when you can e-mail?

Sounds silly, but that's the way a lot of us end up if we work in an office. I know most members of this blogging group loves to send e-mails: to make lunch plans, to pass along funny notes or to occasionally make a cutting comment that would seem less appropriate if blurted out in the newsroom. We do this with text messages, too. Obviously.

Now that we’re such an e-mail friendly culture in the office world and beyond, some are starting to rethink our use of it. It used to just be a convenience. But is it a crutch?

A few months ago I got chastised by an editor for sending out an e-mail to the whole newsroom asking if anyone had Super Glue. I didn’t think twice about it because I figured it would be the quickest form of communication to fix a broken part of my cubicle.

The editor did not think so. He told me I should have gone around and individually asked my coworkers to find the sticky stuff because it would help me get to know them.

I see his point, but I wasn’t trying to avoid human contact. Granted, I would certainly not ask for something more important, like an organ donation or anything, over e-mail. But I have to wonder if I might know a few more people better if I wasn’t able to just send out questions like that to the masses.

What about this? When I was a freshmen at LSU I lived in a dorm. Every now and then, when my roommate and I would both be signed on to AIM we would actually send instant messages to each other from 10 feet away in the same room… Now this was usually as a joke, but it just goes to show how little two people who live together or across the hall or street would actually have to communicate verbally if they so chose.

On a freezing night like this, though, I might not cross the hall -- much less the street -- just to chat.

Any thoughts?

A call center in suburban Atlanta has actually institued a no e-mail rule for Fridays. Whoa. Sorry about this long link, but blogger's link function is not working correctly right now.


Anonymous said...

Wow. How much time would you have wasted going around the entire newsroom to ask everyone in person if they had superglue.

I do realize that, yes, email is frequently used as a crutch for actual human interaction, but spending an hour or whatever hunting down a tube of superglue is a bit much.

Especially whe

Anonymous said...

Adam, perhaps your editor just didnt realize that you already know everyone well enough to send a newsroom-wide message. I know if it were me, if I didnt know my peers very well, I wouldnt be sending EVERYONE a message asking for something.

I think that request was over-the-top.

I'm actually surprised your employer wants you wasting time wandering aimlessly around your workplace looking for something as silly as a tube of SuperGlue. Priorities people.