July 12, 2007
NY Times reveals unbearable new office stress you probably didn't realize you were suffering
I'm beginning to think the NY Times' weekly "Life's Work" column by Lisa Belkin exists solely to drive me up the wall.
Today's column is about how totally impossible it is to get anything done at work because of all the different newfangled ways there are to reach people nowadays. Instead of just having phone numbers, some people that you want to contact also have email addresses. And not only that, some people also have cell phones! And one or two sadistic monsters of the corporate world who want nothing more than to trample upon your human spirit even make use of text messaging!
Seriously, this weekly column is supposed to be about navigating the complexities of the world of work, and this one is about the struggle to figure out whether you should email someone or call them.
It's especially bizarre because in most cases she mentions where a person has more than one form of contact information, they actually come right out and tell her and everybody else how they prefer to be contacted. Some have voicemail messages that say "I don’t check messages here too often, so if you want to reach me in a timely fashion please e-mail me."
Is that really so confusing?
Apparently it is. Belkin writes, "Does he or she hate e-mail, letting it build up in the inbox, but quick to answer the cellphone on the first ring? Does the person refuse to carry a cellphone, but grab the office line through the Bluetooth that is literally attached to one ear?"
Then she answers these frantic questions with an example of one of these she-demons of modern communications, Jeni Hatter who works at Rollins College in Florida: "I prefer to be contacted on my cellphone. It is immediate, and it is always with me." HOW DARE SHE?!
Actually, like most of her examples, it seems like Belkin personally has no problem with just telling people the best way to contact her. She describes an anecdote in which her voicemail message encouraging callers to email her for a faster response prompted one man to leave a message saying "That is so rude. Who do you think you are?"
Maybe Belkin is onto something, here. Maybe the world really is full of easily-offended, helpless people unable to cope with the labyrinthine world of office communications. John Corzine announced today that he will no longer be using email, at all, after realizing through an investigation that emails written from public office accounts are public record. He says he's going to shun not only email, but apparently also telephones, fax machines, dictaphones, and two aluminum cans with a piece of string tied between them: "We'll go back to the 1920s and have direct conversations with people," he huffed.
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