Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Being Frank about the way we hear

The way we communicate is changing. Before you say, “duh,” consider this. 
Stijn Hendrikse (look him up, he’s on Linked In) had a fascinating post I picked up in my Productivity group on Google+ about his son and the way young people have new priorities for being productive. 
His 17-year-old was involved in a nine-hour chat on Skype. But it was more like a group of kids hanging out together than what we older folks would consider a “chat.” His son even introduced dad to the gang, as if they were all in the same room. But the Skypers were sitting in various places around the world. 
Some were doing their homework together and some of the screens online were empty as the people had temporarily left to go do other things. 
That post made me think about what we perceive priorities to be. 
My parents' generation had one phone until they moved into a two-story house and Dad had to hear the phone ring 24-7. He was a fireman on the railroad and would be called out all times of the day and night so they had a phone installed on the second floor.  
The phone had a high priority in our house. If it rang, we had to answer it! We had to drop what we were doing and answer the phone. 
I remember Mom being outside in the summer, with all the windows open in those days with limited air conditioning. If the phone rang, she ran inside to get it. Even if she was visiting with Mrs. Gordon next door. 
Fast forward to 2015. 
How many times int he past week has your phone rang and you let the voice mail pick up? I swear I know people who never answer their phones. Instead, they listen to my voice mail or just call me back because their cell phones keep a record of who called. Many times I end up apologizing when they call me back because I misdialed and got their number by mistake. Or,  sometimes they call me by mistake. 
My wife and I pay a few dollars a month for unlimited texting. My phone usually sounds when someone texts me (unless I have the ringer turned down for some reason) and a small window pops up on my desk computer with the text message. 
From time to time, I look on my cell phone to see if anyone called or texted me and I had missed it. . 
Sometimes I look at the screen when someone calls and unless it’s a) family, b) my boss or c) someone I am expecting a call from, I might just not answer and let voice mail get it. 
That still bothers me. I was raised with the idea a telephone call was, what Hendrikse calls, a big event. 
What does that all have to do with productivity? 
In my job, I have to realize the story I post today may not be read for days or even years on our website. 
Again, years ago getting the newspaper was a big event. 
After school, I would grab the South Bend Tribune off the step and look through it, stopping to read at least part of anything that grabbed my attention. That included just a few of my favorites on the comics page (I quickly outgrew “Nancy.”)
But when I look at the entries in my blog, I see the most read entries aren’t always the most recent. In other words, people Google something (yes, Google can be used as a verb) and one of my blog entries come up in their search. 
Lately, I have found my interviews are done quite often by e-mail. That was something unheard of just a few years ago. 
So, we have to think through what that means to getting the news out. 
I hope this has grabbed your attention because cell phones, e-mail, texting and Skype have all affected how your family behaves and how your job is done. 
Our problem is we “young folks” tend not to change with the times. 

Frank Phillips is a reporter for The Brazil Times.

See Stijn Hendrikse post: