Tag Archives: Technology

Did You Get My Email? (and other virtual concerns)

Dramatic reenactment of me writing an email if I were a member of the Brady Bunch.
Source: michaelmccurry.net

When I begin to write an email, I am openly engaging in a never-ending struggle to get the greeting right — my face transforms into that of an important person, about to solve world mysteries through the click of some buttons by well manicured fingertips. In reality, my fingernails are half painted blue, half bitten off and the email I am writing is solely an attempt at modest employment, returning a hello, or sharing an embarrassing youtube clip — So, not in any way an effort at saving the world.

But I can’t just write the email because it’s too hard — because most of the charm of being myself is how I am in person. That’s a total cop-out as a writer but seriously, I’m super captivating and dynamic in person. My old boss told me I get the engagement award at meetings (which didn’t exist) for emphatically bobbing my head, smiling and just really connecting with everything she said. I’m a head bobber. I look interested and engaged in what you’re saying and that makes you feel good. And then you make me feel good for making you feel good. Do you see what I’m saying? It’s hard for you to see how good I’d make you feel over email without me being that person who overly uses emoticons.

What’s worse is that I was born in the age where virtual communication is supposed to be super natural. Sure, I grew up on AIM, so I know a bit about flirting my way into a virtual relationship virtually communicating my personality — but this had nothing to do with being professional.

There’s also no such thing as a sarcasm font and that is tragic. ‘Dear Sir/Madam who is hopefully going to fund my addiction to Starbucks iced coffees in the future’ wouldn’t be an appropriate way to start off an email. I have learned this. Professional seems to always trump quirky. There is also a problem I seem to have with being appropriate. I have a theory about this called the Michael Scott model which predicates that a lovable inappropriate asshole is still lovable — that’s basically the whole theory. The point of this theory is that it allows me to feel okay about being an inappropriate asshole. The problem with this is that the lovable part doesn’t usually transfer over email which leads to a stripping away of the whole entire character, producing an email tone similar to George Feeney’s (William Daniels) way of speaking.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

Emailing immediately relegates me to a perpetual state of insecure teenage outsider — like that time when a Senior boy in my high school came to my table at lunch just to pop my birthday balloon. I don’t know the person I am emailing as well as I want to and basically, I want to be a part of their team. I want him or her to pick me first for dodgeball, or basketball, or swim races ( I’m really good at all those things). So you try the standard greetings: Dear Hiring Manager, To Whom It May Concern, Hello Madam/Sir, Hello Mr. or Mrs. Has More Power than Me, etc etc. And the worst possible response? You get an email reply with absolutely NO greeting because they are super aloof and hip and totally past all those formal greeting procedures, and also they are, of course, “going to pass” on you working with them.

At this exact moment I am in the middle of writing an email to a woman from a temp agency who could potentially get me a job. This sentence alone should tell you how prepared I am to send this email. “A woman from a temp agency.” Wow, Aly, you’ve really done your research. I am president of the emailers against researching club which meets daily on my couch. This might have contributed to my current, extended state of unemployment.

“You’ll literally have a job the next day after you email her” says Anna, my red-headed counterpart who I imagine goes to work in 80s power suits even though I know what her wardrobe looks like. But what if she senses my rebellious attitude towards email communication? What if she never gets the chance to see how endearing I am while bobbing my head? It’s tragic.

And then there is the reality of knowing I myself never answer emails…or text messages…or smoke signals. Usually to get in touch with me you must let yourself into my apartment and clap a few times in front of my face while offering me a dark chocolate sea salt infused candy bar, or use the pretense of wanting to compliment me on my awesomeness. I’m always available for flattery. But knowing my own attitude on email decorum negates me from taking email communication seriously — too much of a chance to be rebuffed — and it is not my preferred way of ignoring massive amounts of people (that’s usually voicemail and text messaging). And also when you see me in person and ask, “Hey, did you get my email?” I want to punch you square in your eye because why the hell would you send me an email if you were going to see me some time in the near future? Of all the possible ways to get in contact with me you’ve chosen the one in which Groupon and the Mary-Kay-lady-I-was-too-nice-to-say-no-to are among the most frequent attendees. At least put a god damned important flag on that thing.

Is this what you people want?

Is this what you people want?
Pic Source: Eharmony

I’m also convinced that emoticons are taking over and I’m desperately scared of plunging into a world of fake, creepy, emoji faces as substitutes for displaying personality through well thought out discourse. Emoji icons for Facebook statuses are deviously genius — further perpetuating people’s likeliness to adequately depict their emotions through pre-made pictures without having to physically be around anyone. Where this is headed, as I see it, is a massive population of overweight recluses representing themselves through yellow or blue smiley faces. And this is coming from someone who counts brushing her teeth as leaving the house.

There’s just too many ways to give a wrong impression. Whether it’s over email, Facebook messaging, twitter, texting, tumbling, whatever. We have all opened up communication so much that our main concern is worrying about how we sound in all these mediums. So far, my solution is perfecting communication between myself and my dog, Tengo. This is going very well. He has assured me that he would hire me for any job as long as I keep mixing wet food into his dinner — a very clear,well-received message.

Related Posts:

Gen Y and Technology

Email “Netiquette”

Response to DP Challenge

“Ipad Time” and Other Ways to Make Your Child an Adult at Age Four

This is the best thing that happened today. As I lay by the pool contemplating ways to enhance my twitter following the sweetest angel child was swimming while singing, “motorboat motorboat go really fast motor boat motor boat put your foot on the gas!” as a woman gently circled him around her, creating the cutest baby waves. Of course, he was about five or six and couldn’t pronounce his r’s correctly which immediately forced me to fall in love with him. But the real best thing ever was this:

(Unknown mom/nanny/auntie figure): “You know you earned 30 minutes of iPad time for going right to bed last night!”
Angel boy: “Ipad time?”
Mom/nanny/auntie: “Do you wanna go use your iPad time? (Homegirl was clearly done playing the motorboat game.)
Angel boy: “I don’t want iPad time I wanna keep swimming!”

The look on nanny mom’s face was that of perplexity. How could this boy not want to hop into virtual Minecraft world like every other kid?

Little background here: I worked as site director of an afterschool program for mostly privileged white kids (most of whom I absolutely loved) who couldn’t entertain themselves with a game of twister and some cool beats. Who doesn’t love twister? These kids died for the opportunity to bring in their electronics. Which I realize was probably because they had such a variety of electronic goodies they didn’t want any to not be used and feel left out. Which, to me, is eerily comparable to the way I treated my beanie babies in second grade. In me and my generation’s defense, however, creativity is actually involved in playing with beanie babies.

With these kids I found myself constantly stopping and catching myself sounding EXACTLY like my mother when it came to their electronics: “Put that DS/ipad/gameboy away right now or it’s mine for the day!” But I would not lose this battle due to my inability to be in touch with the world of gadgets. I’m Gen Y! I’m young and hip! We invented Facebook! I used to have a V-Tech laptop that would sing me the alphabet, c’mon! And these kids were often ruthless. When one of the little boys who didn’t have many friends brought his gadgets in, he’d end up loaning them out like library books to kids who promised friendship in return, for the hour they were allowed to play at least. Turdy mean kids was what they were. (Mind you, most of these turds were no longer allowed to bring in their electronics because they were TURDS). What pissed me off the most was getting these kids to accept the rules of games like musical chairs and actually play was like getting them to pay their taxes (which I also had to do but we’ll talk more about this some other time). Most of them could not except the idea of not winning at the end. They were too used to have their own personal computers where if they lost, well, they could turn the damn thing off and start again.

In reality, I’m scared. Just like I’m sure my mother was when we bought this crazy new thing called the computer. My mother still does not think she can use a computer because she doesn’t know “how to get into the thing once she’s looking at the screen.” What she means by this is, she can not understand that the mouse leads to wires that hook up to a monitor that you can move and click to get to places and sites (and yes, this is by the way, the technical way to explain how a mouse works.)

I refuse to be my mother though, at least in this aspect (because she’s pretty kick ass in a lot of other ways). I will not mess up social networking sites names by called them “FaceSpace” or give up on technology without ever trying. Come to think of it, even my mom eventually learned to Google. Her first search was for Charlie Sheen–she had no reason whatsoever, she just really likes the show Two and a Half Men. She even called me to tell me about it; it was an extremely exciting day for her.

Anyway, this little swimmer angel had my respect, especially since when I was five, the only thing I wanted to do was show my dad how well I could keep my head above water in our pool. So, we need to not forget about that whole creativity thing that kids are supposed to cherish and be really good at it. Like when I babysat two boys that only wanted to do Star Wars reenactments all day with guns made from legos. There is a picture that exists of me with a stormtrooper helmet on that is nowhere to be found and that I will use as an example of why no one is allowed to delete pictures off my phone ever again (Also, I didn’t even have to look up the name Stormtroopers. I totally knew it). Playing Star Wars with kids is fun. Sitting next to a kid looking at a screen while you also look at a screen and virtually kill each other isn’t fun (because I said so!).

Look how fun all that stuff looks! Those kids are having fun! I love this commercial because it’s sort of teasing kids that sit and stare at a computer screen all day, even if its not meaning to. I mean, you don’t have to go to California to play soccer on the beach with your friends but I get it. We need to cut it out with the “Ipad time.” Why can’t it be “imagination time” or “write in your journal time.” I even choose television over Ipad time because at least some shows make an effort at promoting creativity and moral values. Angry birds is a menace with no meaning. Why should “Ipad time” be the prize? Aren’t kids sitting around enough at school all day?

I’m sure I’m going to read this when I have kids and laugh in my own face but still, turn off the damn Ipad already!

It’s Okay to Be Young and Afraid of Technology

FAQ: “Can you fix this [insert piece of technology]?” – old person

Technology is not a good friend to me and I can’t blame it. While everyone started tweeting in college, I was smoking with my roommate as we watched Freaks and Geeks reruns. It didn’t help that the WORST class I had (New and Emerging Diseases) required each student to start a Twitter and then tweet about the new diseases we were learning about. I decided not to discuss the characteristics of HPV through some bird noise website. I still don’t understand the name Twitter but it works for me and it is a fun and addicting pass time. But that’s NOW. I’m so behind! I was told since I was young I was supposed to be good at technology but they lied.

Thinking about it now I should’ve known technology was not my strong suit; in 5th grade I was the girl who pronounced floppy disks “floppy dicks” and I can still feel it coming out. LaToya Reddick just ate it up. Come on, LT, I thought, what about sister solidarity? No luck; I would hate floppy discs forever.

And so I hated computer class for the rest of my secondary education (except on Fridays when we could play Lemmings). Mostly I only remember Ms. Smith repeating, “a,f, d, f, space. J, k, l, semi, space AND return.” I totally had that row down.

Remember when you used dial-up internet? (If you still do I’m so sorry) I mentioned dial-up to the kids I worked with and they all looked at me like a took a crap all over the cafeteria floor. It was astounding.

“You know? You have to wait for it to connect and it goes like EEEEE-OOOOOO-EEEEEE,” and of course my impersonation of the hideous noise was spot on. I still have NO idea why the connection had to be SO audible. It’s not as if the noise made any sense. I get really upset about dial-up; It was such a hard time in my life. Seriously, I remember countless nights sitting in my dad’s office chair holding my ears to avoid the noise, unable to get up for fear  my brother would steal the internet time.

Also, my brother was the one who was “good” at technology, you know, like it’s assumed men are usually smarter at math and science (Patriarchal society, get with it people). Since I was more interested in writing my own renditions of pop songs in my journal I was okay with letting him be the expert. But now, I’m like, what the shit? Why didn’t I stop reading Dream Street fan fiction in creepy chat rooms and start my own website as a teenager? I couldn’t upload a video to anything till college. At this VERY moment, I have no contacts in my phone and it has been that way for a month because I cannot comprehend how to successfully Sync my iphone. Help me. But I am learning. I hope.

I’m more mad that I didn’t the whole brother-being-better-at-technology-thing for what it was: not true. Sure, he went on to get a degree in Civil Engineering from Penn State but he was a mess trying to use my MacBook Pro. So, I got that going for me.

Being a Generation Y kid means being technically savvy. I’m not and that’s okay (for now). But as girls, we had some other stuff we were known for and a lot of THIS crap set up some crazy, heavy expectations for Gen Y girls: Gen Y girls status symbols