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Who Is The Rude One?

December 14, 2020

We had a family Zoom meeting last night. We haven’t had one in a few months. In fact, I think the last one was before my sister passed away in September. It was the last time some of us talked to her. I guess none of us were interested in addressing the hole that her absence left in the the meeting and in our lives.

My dear mother suggested we start them up again. It’s not a lot of people. My two brothers, my dear mother and we added a new addition this time, my niece, one of my sister’s three daughters.

Like many Zoom meetings we are scattered across multiple states, Utah, California, Arizona and both Eastern and Western Washington. My dear mother did most of the talking the way mothers do.

How’s the job? How’s the family? Howa are the new babies and the baby to be born?

How is the missionary doing? What are your plans for Christmas?

I don’t mean that she was monopolizing the conversation. Not at all. Instead she was simply directing it. And she was absolutely enjoying it. The conversation switched to my brothers’ kids and communicating with Grandma,

But, you know, she doesn’t call. She only texts me.

My brother pointed something out,

It’s actually because she’s being polite.

What do you mean? It’s rude. I’d rather she would just call.

Do you know what the SLA, or Service Level Agreement, is on email delivery? It’s not automatic. It’s within 24 hours. At least it was last time I checked, but granted that has been several years. But, the point is that email was designed as a store-and-forward protocol. Systems talking to each other would pass the email from one server to the next. It would sit in a queue until the next system picked it up.

It was was very much like regular mail, or snail-mail as it was called. When you mail a letter, it sits in your mailbox until the postal worker picks it up and then drops it off at the post office. From there it might get sent to a different post office, where another mail carrier would pick it up and deliver it to your house.

At its heart there are many more similarities between email and snail-mail. But, the fact is that email is not instantaneous. It’s gotten much faster and much more robust since I started supporting WordPerfect Office back in 1988.

The reason email mimicked snail-mail and was a store-and-forward system. It’s a very efficient method. Imagine if the only time you could send someone a letter is if they were at home at the exact time you wrote it? (Okay, first imagine that you are back to actually writing letters. Then imagine if the person had to be home when you wrote it.)

That would be very inconvenient. And further, imagine that if they did happen to be at home when you sent it, they had to immediately stop whatever else they were doing and read your letter. Even worse, right?

Now, let’s talk about my niece texting her grandmother. For that matter, let’s talk about texting anyone vs calling them. If you call someone, they must be at their phone and they need to drop whatever they are doing and talk to you right away. That’s kind of inconvenient for the person being called isn’t it? You might even say it’s rude.

Now, think about texting. You send the text at your convenience. The person reads it at their convenience. They choose to reply, also at their convenience.

My dear mother isn’t completely comfortable with texting. She grew up with snail-mail and telephones. She’s actually very tech savvy at this point. Before she sold it, her CPA firm was one of the first to install email before any of the other firms in town.

But, old habits die hard. It’s ironic that the younger generation thinks it rude to call without texting first, while the older generation thinks it’s rude to text instead of calling.

Remember that the next time you talk to your grandmother. . .or your grandkids.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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