Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Disposable Conversations

I think I may have coined a phrase last night. It came out of two observations/discussions during the past week.

It is the idea that we now live with disposable conversations. It is a phenomenon between individual people as well as businesses. Disposable in a way that is not a slight to any party involved, it is just a reality that we now using our technology to conduct quick hits to the point and get out without any collateral damage along the way.

I was talking with Shel Holtz of For Immediate Release - The Hobson and Holtz Report Podcast last night (definitely not a disposable conversation!) about how kids & teens are predominately using text or instant messaging versus voice or email. Even though all options are just as convenient given accessibility on the same device they hold in their hands.

Shel mentioned that if you ask them why they are texting a message from their phone and not simply making a call, they answer that they can't be bothered to enter into a discussion (i.e. actually talk to someone) when they only have one or two questions to ask, or some information to pass along. No need to speak.

Just give me the information I seek and I am done with you until I need more. I'll call you and chit- chat when I am in the mood or have the time. Its the same way that we use search - we have gravitated to using each other in the same manner.

My wife overheard a couple of teenage girls on the subway last week chatting about boy problems. "I think I have to break up with him" one said. "I don't really want to talk to him, but need to let him know soon." she continued. "Just IM him and you're good" said the other girl. And it was so.

"Dear John" has just gone digital.

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At 2:10 PM, Blogger my name is kate said...

Great post, Michael. This is one reason I like IM at work .. b/c sometimes you just need a quick answer and by using IM you're freed up from email clutter and phone etiquette niceties. As long as you don't rely on it for your *only* communication channel :-)

Cheers .. Kate

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Michael Seaton said...

Thanks Kate,
I hope you are doing well on the other coast. Thanks for the comment.

At 10:48 PM, Blogger maggie k fox said...

Hmmm. I seem to recall that email was touted for the same reason - no need to engage, unlike the phone.

So is it "disposable" or "stripped down", as in you don't have to discuss or engage on any topic other than the one you need the immediate answer to?

At 11:03 PM, Blogger Michael Seaton said...

Good question Maggie,

I suppose it could be both, but given how IM works versus email, there is no history of the exchange when you are done, so it is disposed of when finished.

Perhaps it is semantics, but disposable sounds much more pithy!

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Kathryn Lagden said...

IM has saved my inbox! All the 'disposable conversations' (yes i like that term Michael) don't add clutter.

It seems to me that email started as a way to have quick conversations and then quickly grew to replace the brown inter-office envelopes. Perhaps that's when we started using it for more in depth and engaged conversations. And as a result needed another mechanism (IM) for the quickie chats.

At 6:03 PM, Anonymous donna Papacosta said...

Very interesting post and comments. If email began as being something quick (and of course now it's not necessariy so, as Maggie Fox says), what will IM evolve into? I wonder what's next?

At 3:22 PM, Blogger Michael Seaton said...

Thanks Donna, I wonder what is next too! Hope to see you at the meet up next Tues


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