Mopping Up the Pavlovian Drool

19 07 2010

Ooooo-kay. I feel like a social acupuncturist. I so hit a nerve with that last post about the deleterious social impact of cell phones on shallow interactions, etiquette veneers and fragile attention spans.

I mean, my hit rate went from, like, 2.2 per day (averaged over the past 54 years) to 93 in one day. And only half were me checking my own syntax after the fact.

There were posted comments and personal messages. I feel the seething rage and piqued annoyance out there.

Here’s a good approach by comedian Morgan Murphy. She pulls a nice move at the 5-minute mark. Try this one in a restaurant:


Pavlovian Peeve

6 07 2010

[Preamble: Woah, it’s been too long since I’ve posted here. Guess I was too busy HAVING A LIFE.]

Moving on…

And yes, I own this album.

One of my favourite visual jokes in the UK comedy series, The Vicar of Dibley, is when the idiosyncratic church music director, gyrating with legs and arms akimbo as he conducted his choir, whips out his cellphone mid-chorus, hits a button, smiles and nods, thumb-taps a reply, pockets the phone and carries on gesticulating without missing a demi-quaver. It was choreography. It was great physical humour. It was funny. Then.

I find one of the upsides of being relegated to a crappy old flip-phone is that is discourages me from using it much:

  • partly out of fear that this older technology could permanently curl the Hobbit hair on the outer ridge of my ear, so I keep my calls short
  • partly because it flags the fact that I was gullible enough to sign on for a slower-than-the-speed-of-Bell multi-year contract, so I prefer to hide my fetter
  • mercifully, the signal where we live is weak – I actually lost a call to Bell’s support line when I phoned to ask why – so I’m less tempted to use it from home

The other, and right now the more important, feature besides the dead-end non-syncable directory, is that it pretty much shames me into stowing the thing away, or even turning it off, when I’m spending time with someone else. And not just because it’s bug-ugly.

Impersonalized ringtones

My inner Luddite is inching further out on the passive-aggressive limb every time a breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee date, business discussion, walk, browse, moment of reflection or just plain ol’ human-to-human conversation is interrupted, not just by a Pavlovian buzz, bing or impersonalized ringtone, but the conditioned slavish impulse to actually answer the thing.

Of course there’s grace for a couple of instances of “I need to take this”  in a casual business setting. But if it’s automatic and assumed, it’s a statement.

Think of what it does to your interaction:

  • It breaks the continuity of your conversation — cheezy ringtone, break off, check who it is, excuse yourself, respond, one-sided conversation, re-group, “So…” and it’s back to what apparently wasn’t as important or engaging, i.e. you
  • It cheapens the time and attention you offered, or was offered to you
  • It’s uninvited, for at least one of us
  • It’s exclusive and antisocial
  • It says, “Do I continue with what you were… sorry, you’ve just been trumped.”

By a flippin’ text message.

And don’t try to tell me it’s okay to take the call if it’s during a lull. Pauses in conversation are the black notes on the keyboard.

Connection killer

Okay, I’ve sinned this way too. And I pray that the iPhone 4 in my not-distant future doesn’t compromise me. But Charmaine and I were recently in a stylish, dimly-lit restaurant for some eye-slobber time and were saddened when a couple sat at the next table. The woman immediately took her smartphone from her purse and placed it on the table next to her cutlery. Think about the decision she planned to make regarding her company.

Okay, maybe her daughter was in labour. Perhaps the other agent promised to call right back with a counteroffer. I suppose there’s an app for tapas pairings. But the phoneless guy across the table had long-term rock-bottom expectations written all over him. The phone was defining the tone without even ringing.

But the nadir of mobile rudeness for me was when a friend I was taking out for a thank-you lunch told his assistant on the way out that she could… Oh, uh, sorry. An email just came in. Be right back.

Objectivity, equity in Twitterland

3 05 2010

Tweets now exceed 50 million per day, 83 tweets per second (20% overall) contain product or brand references.

Which is about right if you’re running a company Twitter feed. Give more, make it useful to people who are interested in your field. Then when it’s time to draw attention to your own stuff, you’ll have the objectivity-equity to be taken seriously.

The same would apply to blogs and even your own Facebook Fan Page.


Power to the people

16 04 2010

So, it seems that even Google and Yahoo! can be trumped by people’s need to feel connected and amused.

An article posted on the All Facebook site quotes someone else‘s report, and another site‘s staff article, and now here on this blog (see how ingrown interconnected this all gets?) that Facebook and YouTube are outdrawing the search engines for internet traffic. To wit:

A report from the Network Box shows that 6.8 percent of all the URLs accessed by businesses goes to Facebook and 10 percent of internet bandwidth goes to Youtube.  The study analyzed 13 billion URLs accessed by businesses and studied business bandwidths to find results, and found Facebook and Youtube leading other companies like Google and Yahoo.

Notice that the piece is talking about sites visited from business URLs. In other words, people FB’ing and watching YouTube clips at work. This will be a test of employers’ values in the same way that coffee/smoke breaks and five-day workweeks were, I suppose. But it seems to me that the most helpful, if rhetorical, line of musing would be, “If only they would use their superpowers for good, and not evil.”

(And who’s the evil genius who came up with this logo for this online magazine? Sheesh!)


Give the iPad a Break

8 04 2010

Now this bugs me. I’m not sold on the iPad. For myself. Yet. But the fact that they sold out in less than a week, with Apple claiming sales of 450,000 (yoiks — even if that includes pre-orders, that’s still half a mill!) and … and … well, here’s a helpful blurb from Macworld:

In addition to revealing iPad sales figures, Apple’s CEO also noted that customers have bought more than 600,000 books through the iPad’s iBooks app. What’s more, the App Store has served more than 3.5 million iPad apps, with a total of 4 billion apps downloaded overall from the store.

Wrap your head around those numbers if you can.

But here’s the bug-me part: pundits still carping about what the iPad doesn’t have or do. Yet. I’ll address two common complaints: not much in the way of ports, and no multitasking.

  1. Ports: True. Not a lot of physical, plug-style connectivity. Just wireless. (Eye-roll and a tsk.) And I probably wouldn’t/won’t get one until it has a port to drive my outboard screen so I can use the iPad as a CPU, as I currently do with my laptop. But maybe that’ll be moot when they introduce wireless monitors. (That’s a prophecy, right there.)
  2. Multitasking: C’mon — you can’t multitask either. Nobody can. The myth of women being able to multitask while guys can only have one thing on their mind at a time actually isn’t true. But women can create the illusion of multitasking because they generally switch mental tracks faster than men have learned. So ladies, you’re just shuffling the deck faster than we men can perceive. Which is a good card trick, but can also be off-putting when we’re trying to focus on something. The point here (before I dig myself in any deeper) is that if you’re the type who would want an iPad to render video in the background while you simultaneously tweet, download music and take the pictures of your cat that we’ve all been waiting for, the performance drag would just annoy you anyway.

It’s a sad thing when commentators can only draw attention by thinking up things that aren’t there and calling them omissions.


But speaking of prophecy, here’s a prescient bit by one of my favourite news sources, The Onion.

Heinous Photoshopping at Reitmans

7 04 2010

This would warrant a place in the Shrunken Heads exhibit of the Little Photoshop of Horrors. If only it wasn’t so banal.

Honestly, would you shop where you’re being so blatantly lied to before you even get there? If I was a plus-sized girl, I’d be insulted.


Is your workplace Tweetable?

7 04 2010

I was watching a random video of tech prattle and I was taken by what Neha Tiwari of says, “I tweet about where I work all the time because I like working there. It’s a great place.”

Employers who still have a problem with this social media thing in the workplace … aren’t seeing their real problem.

Just sayin’.