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We are accustomed to think that instant communications serve us well. They can be depended upon for emergencies and even improve relationships. However, a recent incident made me question just how instant and how communicative our modern gadgets are.
A friend of mine was traveling down the road one evening, and his car suddenly broke down. The left rear brake was red hot, and there was no way he was going to make it back home. He stopped at a Walmart parking lot and pondered his situation. Luckily, he had his cell phone that he could use to arrange for someone to pick him up.
Number - Mail - Call - Result - Numbers
Or at least that was what he thought. He called the first number and got voice mail. The second and third call had the same result. Eventually, he tried all the numbers of those who were in range. No one answered. No one responded even to text messages. He was stuck.
Since he was accompanied by a friend, the two decided to have dinner at a nearby Chinese restaurant. There was not much more he could do. After dinner, he tried again and luckily they called the car I was in and explained his plight. We promptly headed in his direction and picked them up.
Incident - Fact - One - Everyone - Frustration
I mention this isolated incident because I suspect it is not so isolated. The fact that no one answered, surprised but did not shock me. It is believable since everyone has experienced the frustration of finding no one at the other end of the line. Everyone has come to hate the mechanical voice that announces that your message has been forwarded to an automatic voice message system.
The incident also serves to illustrate there are many illusions associated with our faith in instant communication. It promises so much yet often fails to deliver.
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