One of the great myths about modern technology is that it improves communication.
Not true. It simply increases options for failure to communicate.
To back up my bold assertion, I point to the simple phone text on the way home from work.
Short, sharp, often disconcerting in it’s lack of humanity.
A simple directive which, putting aside the idea that the sender could probably have got coriander themselves during the day rather than lump me with the task after a hard day at the office, is seemingly easy to follow.
That is of course, until you comprehend what a lottery coriander is. And that there may be further incoming orders that you’re not aware of until it’s too late. But more of that later.
Coriander is not only one of the hardest herbs to grow in the vegetable garden, it’s also somewhat elusive on supermarket shelves.
Particularly at 5.30pm when everyone in town’s having Thai for dinner.
And after a hard day at the office where all you want to do is go home and consume the dinner the person who texted you about the coriander is hopefully preparing, the last thing you want to do is traipse from supermarket to supermarket in vain.
But how to express that in a reply text? And would it be a) justifiable or b) wise?
Particularly given the person who sent the text probably thinks they’re doing you a favour, and not the other way around.
As hinted at earlier, communication is critical in life, and often begins to take shape with the words “what I meant was”.
Which is where you might find yourself if you tried to explain how put out you felt about the coriander issue.
So typically, you’ve engaged in the process of failing to communicate, and now you’re finessing the relationship by not talking about whatever it is.
In this case, coriander.
So you hit the supermarkets and sure enough, the first three have run out.
Well, one of them had some, but at $3.99 . . . they’re dreamin’!
Yes, it’s a finicky plant to grow and lord knows it walks off the shelf when community consciousness turns to garnishment, but there are limits.
Not to worry because you know there’s a fourth supermarket across town that, even though it will take you into peak hour traffic and a few gridlock issues, you’re pretty sure will hit the perfect tipping point between price and availability.
When you get there, it’s there, and pretty soon the solitary purchase is being made.
One small step for shopping, one giant leap for dinner.
You’ve literally gone the extra miles and the burden is starting to lift.
It doesn’t even bother you that the checkout operator doesn’t seem that sincere as they wish you a good night.
You’re bound for home, finally, with the sacred coriander and a certain confidence that communication has been achieved.
But then you check the phone one last time, just in case, and sure enough, after “Get coriander” someone’s slipped in “And frozen raspberries”.
Which aren’t available at this supermarket, but they were at the other three.
Reminding you that in classic communication parlance, when it comes to technology, it ain’t over, until someone says “over”.