Does Using an Android Make You One?

Does owning a BlackBerry make you a fruitcake? Does a smartphone render you stupid? In my experience, the answer is, Yes.

I can say that because I do not own one of those things. I just have the misfortune of being on the receiving end of the snippets that are supposed to pass as human discourse these days. I’ve concluded that these devices make it easy for intelligent people to communicate with a startling lack of intelligence.

As a writer and editor of the English language and a purist to boot, I never succumbed to the shorthand of IM and text messaging. I prefer to converse in complete sentences with complete words. Words, not numbers that sound like words. And I think about the words I write. The context in which I write them conveys as much as the words themselves.

But today’s abbreviated communication style seems to mean that not only do people write in symbols and snippets, they read that way, too. They read only what few lines of a message can be crammed into a tiny display, without regard for the fact that there could be a lot more to it. There might just be context, if only you’d keep reading!

Context is a valuable thing when responding to a message. If you don’t understand the context, how can you respond intelligently? My answer to that one? You can’t. At least I haven’t experienced it very often.

Related to context is the fact that there could also be an attachment to the message. In fact, the context of the message might be in the attachment itself.

But I gather that these diminutive devices cannot open attachments or access URLs? If the blame actually belongs on the lazy user who doesn’t review the message context before responding, then please don’t tell me. I’m giving them a bit of an out here!

Miscommunicase in point: A lot of my relatives were born in July—three of J.L. Robertson’s children, two children’s spouses, and two grandchildren (my generation). This past July I sent an email to the family to remind and to remember the four among the seven who are no longer with us. Then my question was, “What is it about July?”

One quick-witted cousin did the math and responded, “The real question is… what’s the deal with October?!?” OK, but I didn’t mean to go there. Still, what did I expect from this redheaded jokester? At least his response was good-natured.

But my father is among the ones who are no longer with us. On his birthday, I posted a tribute to him on my blog and sent the link to the same list of relatives. This message read simply:

“In memory of Paul A. Robertson born July 22, 1924’s-birthday/

Actually, because it was on the same topic of July birthdays, I just forwarded the email I’d sent earlier with the new message and link appended. That was my first mistake, because what had been a joking matter before, now turned to serious expression of emotion.

This time I included a cousin who I’d inadvertently left out when I sent the first message. Second mistake! You kinda can’t blame her for not having the context of the first email. On the other hand, imagine my dismay when all she responded to was the first email without mention of my father.

“Maybe the question should be ‘What was with October??!!’”

Really? How insensitive is that? Was that really her response to my blog post?

After immediately rejecting her message by way of sending it to the Trash, I thought, “No, I really don’t think she meant to be insensitive.” She must not have read the blog post.

I located the message in the Trash, and responded to it, “Did you read my blog?”

She replied, “No, just the email.”

And after that was the telltale tag: “Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry”.

Her email stayed in the Trash.

But in an attempt to give her another chance, while making it clear that I felt she’d responded inappropriately: “Sorry you were left off of the original email on the 7th to which you responded. Please read today’s blog post when you can and then reply? Thanks.”

To which she responded, “I got the e-mail!”

But she still didn’t “get” it.

Nor did I.

How much better might this exchange have gone, if this highly intelligent and always busy person had waited until she could read the post that was the real subject of the email? How easily could I have avoided it, if I’d just sent it in an entirely new message? Had I been lazy myself in not doing that?

Or was I merely providing context? Context that went unsipped, though a simple prompt led straight to water.

Does someone else’s use of an Android, BB, or smartphone make even the receiver dimwitted?! Have I unknowingly been infected? I’m sure I’ve been affected.

In many cases, the quality of communication I receive in email exchanges is frustrating enough. To think that these devices foster further degradation in mutual understanding, is a source of great anguish!

Earlier this year, a friend figured out how to use his work computer as a wireless hotspot for his Android. Or was it the other way around? I don’t know!

Anyway, I started getting emails from him that were auto-signed:
“- Mitch
From the Android”


After one particularly confusing exchange with Mitch and/or his Android, I unleashed my frustration on him, “It just proves my point as to why I dislike handheld devices for communication meant for a much larger screen. So there. Are you sure it shouldn’t be:
“From the Android
– Mitch”

His reply showed that he understood he had been properly zinged
and that he forgave me anyway. “It is SO good to have friends with whom we can joust and jest.”

If only I could maintain my sense of humor with all the rest of the droids out there…

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