“A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history – with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila” – Mitch Ratcliffe
I learned a long time ago how written communication and technology can lead to mis-communications. Jokes don’t always translate, so can be taken wrong. Reactions can come across stronger than the writer intended. Explanations can inadvertently insult people in ways that would never be done face-to-face – intentional or not. There are too many variables that result in a situation where things can go wrong. Too many variables outside of the writer’s control as well as the reader’s. Then, toss in the speed at which those messages can fly – there is no time to change one’s mind after that send button is hit.
For example, I learned pretty early on during my career that I cannot help users if I’m not able to properly focus on them – if I am only skimming the messages. My point in an email would be driven deep because my point would be sharper than normal – and they always came back to the requester in a much faster pace. A quick response even without emotional intent has led to many emotions flying simply because of the speed of the response.
Why am I writing about this? Because it has happened to me twice this week. The first time, I misread a message the resulted in a total misunderstanding about something – then more misunderstandings occurred. The second time – a message was misunderstood, a return message was misunderstood – then more misunderstandings ensued.
Technology is an amazing thing. Clearly, I think so given the profession I have chosen.
But, like that quote says, computers allow mistakes to happen at a faster rate than most other things. And like tequila, things may get said that were never meant to be said. I guess it is something I have to keep in mind at times.
And I hope others do too.
‘Cause I know I’m sorry for my part in all of it.