The Hierarchy of Communication

By contributing writer Matt Hulten

As technology grows with each passing day, it forces us to adapt and change our way of life. Even the simplest of tasks, such as conversing with a fellow human being, has changed drastically in the past few years. With the telephone, not to mention basic human contact, being pushed aside for other ways of communicating, it’s hard to always tell just how important an actual conversation is to both parties involved. The following is a list of everyday forms of communication in the year 2007 and the pros and cons that go along with engaging in them.

Talking in Person

Level of Intensity

Pro: Remember the whole human contact thing? Yeah, this is pretty much the very definition. Humans need to interact with each other in order to be happy and survive. Otherwise they turn into axe murders or cult members. Frankly, it’s science. Did you really think you could survive only talking through a headset to other World of Warcraft dorks? Not so much. More importantly than basic survival though, if (or probably when) you’re talking to someone and make a stupid comment, you can actually see the other person roll their eyes. Which means you can make a mental note to crush them later.

More proof baseball is gay.
"Is this getting through your thick skull or do I have to text message you later?!!"

Con: Oh my God, do you know how much effort it takes to acquire even the most miniscule social skills? It’s harder than learning to play the saxophone. And learning to play the saxophone is basically impossible. Talk to someone in person and you have to be both clever and engaging in the moment, and who has the smarts to be both clever and engaging in the moment? We’re not sitcom characters; we can’t be churning out one-liners because we have a team of writers supplying them to us. I’m not Chandler, goddamnit! I’m just a regular man! Get off my back!

Plus, nine times out of ten, when you’re going to have a face to face conversation with someone, you’re probably going to have to shower first.

Phone Conversation

Level of Intensity

Pro: Talk to your boss, mother, and priest all in one afternoon without ever having to leave your house and with the luxury of being totally pants-less. If that isn’t freedom, I don’t know what is.

Con: First off, thanks to cell phones, answering machines, voicemail, beepers and the rest of it, it’s basically impossible to avoid people nowadays. If you see someone in real life that you really don’t want to talk to (let’s say because you gave them VD), you can dive into the bushes and hide like a scared child until they pass by. But with phones, they can leave you message after message and eventually you’ll mistakenly pick up your phone all groggy and disorientated at 4am. And who the hell wants to hear about a case of gonorrhea that’s ripping through a former lover’s body like a wolverine at 4am? I know I sure didn’t.

Text Message

Level of Intensity

Pro: While one might think that the best thing about texting is that it’s instant and fairly impossible for the recipient to lie and say they didn’t receive the message, this is actually not the best feature of the text message. The single greatest feature is that as annoying and elitist as receiving a cell phone call when you’re with a group of people is, receiving a text message is even better! It’s like when you were in the third grade and everyone was handing out Valentine’s Day cards to each other, only everybody is only handing them out to you. Finally, sweet, sweet acceptance! You’re finally the prettiest princess at the dance!

Con: How many people do you think are clicking furiously trying to text message, screaming “Where’s the G?” “Where’s the goddamn G!?!?” at the top of their lungs before they drive their car into a telephone pole? No, seriously, I’m asking you, because I’ll be damned if I’m going to look it up. I doubt you could just Google something like that. Let’s just say 46 and be done with it. Forty-six people a year die because of text messaging! I think I read that somewhere.

Email

Level of Intensity

Pro: More thoughtful than the text message and yet less stressful than a real, live conversation, email gives you the best of both worlds: the ability to express yourself thoughtfully and eloquently through the power of the written word, and the option to delete those thoughtful and eloquent words when you realize that maybe you shouldn’t confess your undying love for Monica in the PR department, but rather Sherri in accounting. Yeah, Sherri in accounting is totally the way to go.

Con: Thanks to the small fact that email arrives via your computer, even something as meaningful as “I love you” might as well be “You forgot to put a cover sheet on your TPS reports.” Because you’re going to be staring into your computer screen, it’s going to seem like you’re at work while you read it. Email lacks personality; so much so that every email sent should be accompanied by a message welcoming the reader to the cold, sterile world of robots. The good thing about living in the world of robots? We all have super human strength and live forever. The bad news? We lack the ability to feel emotion.

Written Letter

Level of Intensity

Pro: Oh come on, it’s 2007. No one writes letters anymore.

Con: On the outside it looks as if a written letter is filled with sentiment and thoughtfulness. In this day and age, however, writing a letter means one of two things: 1. This is the only way to communicate with your grandma who is too old to work a computer and too deaf to hear the phone. 2. One of you is in prison.

MySpace/Facebook Comment

Level of Intensity

Pro: Notes sent to you have the picture of the person sending them right there, which eliminates the whole “Sxygurl118? Who the hell is Sxygurl118? Oh God, is that the one who’s notes I borrowed during Chem class or is that the one I had sex with?” panic you might have when you open an unknown email. And you can leave little notes to your friends in plain site of everyone that have special meanings for just the two of you. It’s your own little inside joke and the whole world is on the outside looking in. Plus, it’s trendy!

Con: Well, first off, you actually have to be a member of MySpace or Facebook. Which is fine if you’re in high school or college. Older than your mid-20’s and still trolling around on MySpace? Surprise, you’re just one small step away from walking nude into one of those “To Catch a Predator” specials on NBC.

Instant Message

Level of Intensity

Pro: Have an instantaneous conversation with someone in an exotic foreign land thousands of miles away and discuss world events. Or, more likely, tell Jeff, the guy sitting in the next cubicle, how much you hate that bitch Sherri down in accounting. So what if your paycheck can’t be released to you until 3:15? It’s 2:37 and that’s close enough, damn it! God, you hate her.

Con: If you’re choosing to communicate mainly by Instant Messenger, then there’s a good chance you’re one of the people responsible for slowly destroying the English language. With a whole world of slang and code such as “lol” (laugh out loud), “brb” (be right back) and “mkladnfladjf” (?) everyone who chooses to converse in this medium needs to learn essentially an entire new language despite the fact that most of the people responsible for this new language can barely speak English. Also, when you sign on at 8pm on a Friday night, pretty much everyone in the world can see that you’re a loser. Although, on the bright side, they can only see that if they’re a loser as well. Thus the circle of life is complete.

Post-it Note Left in a Random Spot

Level of Intensity

Pro: The pure innocence of the Post-It note is its real charm. While personal conversations, phone calls, emails, and letters bombard you with bad news left and right, the Post-It note is used to remind you to pick up your dry cleaning or that your Mom loves you. Look at it this way, you’re never going to read, “You have cancer. Sorry, Dr. Thompson” on a Post-It note. So you should learn to embrace these sticky, yellow tabs. Except, of course, for the fact that…

Con: Nothing quite says “I hate you” like some scribbling on a small yellow piece of paper. Basically, it doesn’t get any worse than this. As if the half-assed note wasn’t bad enough, the very idea behind the Post-It note is that it’ll be read by the person way, way, way after you’ve already left. If you’re using a Post-It note to communicate with someone, it essentially means that you don’t even have the tolerance for this person to use a full piece of paper to write them a note, let alone hang around long enough to read it. Now that’s hatred. Makes you re-think what you’re mom was really saying when she left you that “I love you” note in your lunch bag when you were 6, doesn’t it?



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Great work.

wonderful. The "Level of Intensity" bar graphs just adds such a nice touch.

I was a fan of this article as well.

That PIC inside joke we have....isn't it <i>hilarious</i>? LOLLERSKATES!!!!!11

I like it. Funny without being crude. Not that crude is bad, but this was a little refreshing.

Nice article ! I once got a post-it note from my ex-girlfriend which said 'It's over, bye Jennifer'

I agree completely.
I haven't had much human interaction in the past few months and I must admit I've somewhat been considering going on a bit of a killing spree.
But I'm also considering getting myself into another car accident to further avoid human contact.
In about five hours I will be thrust back into school. The two months worth of work I should have done isn't helping.