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14 November 2009

Pop Quiz! What is/are your preferred method/s of communication and why? [More:]

Some possible contexts for answering this question could include:
1) spatial distance (across town, other side of the planet)
2) emotional distance (best friend, new acquaintance)
3) other

Feel free to be as vague (telephone, internet, snail mail*) or specific (text, twitter**, postcard) as you like.

*retronym: (n) a word introduced because an existing term has become inadequate
"Nobody ever heard of analog clocks until digital clocks became common, so `analog clock' is a retronym"
**I only just picked up on "twit" being the base word for "twitter."
I'd like to think mine would be "poison dart."

*thwack* Message delivered, muthafucka.
posted by BoringPostcards 14 November | 01:56
Email is the only thing I check at least once a day. I only remember to check my voicemail once or twice a week.
posted by Ardiril 14 November | 02:09
I prefer email. I hate the phone, which I find intrusive.
posted by essexjan 14 November | 04:26
Talking face to face is preferred, email is second but will phone if there needs to be a lot of back and forth Q&A.
posted by doctor_negative 14 November | 05:47
Almost anything but the telephone - I hate the thing. I have an iPhone, but make maybe 2-3 calls a week. Lots of SMS and e-mail happens and I'm happy to communicate via either of these, or via chat. Face-to-face would be my second preference behind e-mail, then chat, then SMS. Almost anything but the telephone. Did I mention I hate telephones?
posted by dg 14 November | 06:06
It really depends on who I am connecting with. My personal preference is the phone 'cause e-mail and text is too easy and I feel I'm not really "keeping in touch." So . . .

Mom - always phone first then email. My buddy J. - refuses to use the phone so its always misunderstood text messages. My sis living in another state - almost exclusively email with an occasional phone call. *sigh*
posted by MonkeyButter 14 November | 07:50
I just sit back and wait for their heads to explode.
posted by Lipstick Thespian 14 November | 08:08
I'm not sure that's really communicating, LT.

I tend to avoid the phone where I can. At work, I try to avoid answering my phone. In real life, my mobile rings infrequently enough, so I can handle answering it.

By and large, I like to email. I also like google's chat a lot too. I'm just getting into some texting here and there!
posted by richat 14 November | 08:56
What I call communicating, some folks call aneurysm.

So sue me.
posted by Lipstick Thespian 14 November | 09:56
I like singing songs to people onstage.

Otherwise, I like email and Facebook. I don't like talking on the phone, and avoid it whenever possible.
posted by flapjax at midnite 14 November | 09:59
smoke signals.
posted by stynxno 14 November | 10:15
Sullen, furtive glaring.
posted by danf 14 November | 10:31
I like to send an invoice for a few dollars in the mail marked "Past due" along with a return envelope.

Otherwise, email.
posted by Obscure Reference 14 November | 10:45
Any kind of writing. Can be email (though I'm getting sick of it) but obviously also posting, writing mini-essays for the various blogs I'm on, writing grant applications, writing stories for the local paper...whatever it is, I could string words together happily for a long long time and never look up.

I also hate the phone. It is so highly interruptive. But sometimes it's actually much quicker at resolving things like setting up a meeting with a long email chain.

posted by Miko 14 November | 11:01
Early morning snarking.
posted by buzzman 14 November | 11:08
Superfly splash, crossbody dive, delayed suplex, flying knife edge elbow chop, piledriver.
posted by Hugh Janus 14 November | 11:12
Also, projectile vomiting really gets the point across.
posted by Hugh Janus 14 November | 11:16
For distance > 10 miles; Handwritten letter, telephone, typed letter, email.
Local: Telephone, email.
I did call a housemate from the post office yesterday instead of face to face conversation. We had not received mail for a week+, and I had just found out that former housemate had mail held for entire house. Exasperating news.
I was able to pick up a package that was listed as 'delivered' but was not in mail box; so the situation is resolving.

I'm over 40; and I read somewhere that texting is the #7 cause of impotence so I don't text or tweet.
posted by buzzman 14 November | 11:18
All kidding aside though, my favorite method of communication is reading, usually books, often by long-dead authors. Reading is great because someone else is communicating with me without clamoring for a response. I get more out of this kind of communication than all that fluffy-assed talking shit. I prefer one-way streets.
posted by Hugh Janus 14 November | 11:44
Face-to-face is by far my favorite.

I'm not a big text-message guy (though it's often the most practical choice when, say, somebody's getting picked up at the airport), and I don't like talking on the phone at any length to someone who I could as easily see face to face. Really, I don't like talking on the phone at any length (the fidelity is too low, too much is lost, y'know?), but when somebody's far away, you do what you gotta do.

Apart from that, I'm pretty flexible--it seems like other people are more hung up on particular modes of communication than I am.
posted by box 14 November | 11:52
Hate the phone, and the unexpected knock on the door. Honestly, it just kills me. I hate not knowing who it is or if it's someone I don't want to talk to, and then wondering if the house is a mess, what I'm wearing...all that.

Favs are anything online. Then I get to pick and choose who I talk to and when.

I'm really not very social, can you tell? Friends, coworkers and acquaintances always remark about how friendly and social I am, but what they don't know is that after the first two minutes or so of face to face, I'm screaming inside to get away from them. Luckily I don't feel that way about my husband.

Smoke signals are pretty cool.
posted by iconomy 14 November | 12:37
posted by Eideteker 14 November | 12:46
Email, because whatever you tell me on the phone (the flight number, the time for the meeting, the grocery list, the name of the restaurant), I have to write it down anyway, so why don't you write it down and send it to me in a format that I can refer to again later from any computer anywhere in the world?

Email, because I can ask a series of questions and reasonably expect that you'll see and respond to most of them, if not all of them.

Email, because I can check it at my convenience and you can check it at your convenience, instead of either of us being pulled out of the bathtub by a ringing telephone.

Email, because it gives us both time to think clearly and check our calendars instead of responding immediately.

Exceptions to my preference for email include:
- communication with my nieces and nephews, who get (all too infrequent) postcards and notes by actual mail. (Though my college-aged niece and I communicate mostly on Facebook, by her choice.)
- a proper thank-you note, which I send by actual mail on an actual notecard. (Little thank-yous for casual get-togethers I send by email, since one too many friends got freaked out by a proper thank-you note.)

And one more exception: if you are my mother, I generally prefer to call you on the phone, because you read your email infrequently, write responses as if you were crafting a social letter exemplar for an outdated etiquette manual, and rarely address the questions I've asked. It took me years to realize that email is still a murky, confusing medium for her, and I shouldn't ask her to use it unless it's necessary.
posted by Elsa 14 November | 13:06
Email and text. I hate talking on the phone. I have to use the phone a lot at work and I hate hate hate it.
posted by Claudia_SF 14 November | 13:15
Email, text messages, gchat. I fucking hate phones.

I love that since all of us read one email account at work, we can all just leave messages for one another without actually having to talk face to face (which is important since all 4 of us are only in the office for a few hours a week).

My homie and I have a constant running text and gchat conversation happening. We do a lot of online shopping that way, since I don't really have anyone to go shopping with down here (much less the cash to buy pretty things) and so it gets the desire to buy pretty things out of the way, especially when we go on a tear and start looking for the ugliest things we can.

My folks are strange on email though. Pops treats it like an interoffice memo with things like 'Drop car at Alex's, 1900 tonight'. (We also have lots of military-ish running jokes about accomplishing mission objectives and whatnot.) My mother tends to think of it as something like a permanent record, so if she asks me to come over for dinner, she assumes that I will be there, even if I email her back later and tell her that I can't make it. (This is also the same woman who will call someone on her cell phone and if they don't answer--WILL IMMEDIATELY TURN IT OFF so you can't call her back.)
posted by sperose 14 November | 13:35
My mother tends to think of it as something like a permanent record, so if she asks me to come over for dinner, she assumes that I will be there, even if I email her back later and tell her that I can't make it.

posted by Elsa 14 November | 13:44
Personal: IRC, Skype, AIM, email, facebook.
Work: email, face to face, phone
posted by Stewriffic 14 November | 13:49
posted by buzzman 14 November | 14:13
Encoded in a dead language, carved onto 2 ton megaliths and dropped onto the front lawn from 3000 feet (~914 meters).

Email though in a pinch.
posted by kodama 14 November | 14:24
So what does it say about Mechas that we all pretty much don't like talking on the phone?
posted by doctor_negative 14 November | 14:37
(This is also the same woman who will call someone on her cell phone and if they don't answer--WILL IMMEDIATELY TURN IT OFF so you can't call her back.)

OMG my in-laws do that! Drives me infuckingsane!

email > handwritten notes/letters > social media > texting > calling on telephone.

If I call you on the phone voluntarily, it's probably because I think you are unlikely to answer and I'm expecting to leave a message.
posted by gaspode 14 November | 14:44
Also: If you call and leave me a message, leave a message. I routinely get useless meta-messages left both on my cell and my home phone: "Hi, it's [person] and I had a question for you. So, uh, call me back."

Listen, y'all*: if you leave me a message that includes your question, I can get back to you with the answer. Wouldn't that be better?

This is one reason I prefer email: people are more likely to include the question in the body of the email. Never once have I received an email saying "I had a question for you" that didn't also include the damned question.

*Yeah, I know they aren't here and can't listen. The thing is, when I make this request directly to them, they can't listen either. So that's okay. Sigh.
posted by Elsa 14 November | 14:54
Email for any sort of "Let's get together" or "I need you to do X" or "I had a quick question" conversations. I hate the phone, generally, but I like having "What have you been up to?" rambling conversations with close-but-geographically-distant friends or family via telephone.

I also hate people who leave stupid "I have a question, call me back" voicemail messages, but I REALLY hate people who respond to my explicit, comprehensive "I need answers on X, Y, and Z, under conditions A, B, and C" voicemails with "I have answers for you, call me back." I keep leaving voicemails for clients or potential clients with "I have openings to meet with you on Wednesday at 1pm, Thursday at 10am or 2pm, please call me back at this number and let me know if any of those times work for you," and they'll call back and just leave their phone number, and 90% of the time when I call back, they say that one of the original proposed times will work for them. ARGH. Often there is a second round of my leaving a message with proposed times, which they respond to by just, again, leaving their phone number. I AM IN SESSION WITH CLIENTS ALL DAY LONG, I HAVE WEIRD FIVE-MINUTE BREAKS AT RANDOM TIMES AND THOSE ARE THE ONLY TIMES I AM AVAILABLE BY PHONE, THE CHANCES THAT I WILL CATCH YOU DURING ONE OF THOSE RANDOM BREAKS IS INFINITESIMAL, PLEASE LEAVE ME AN ACTUAL MESSAGE WITH ACTUAL INFORMATION WHEN YOU CALL.

Sorry. Moving on.

Not a fan of texting unless it either doesn't really require a response (like "Having a great time, I'll call you tonight!") or is somehow expedient ("My plane just got in, come meet me at the gate."). I guess that means I'm ok with one-way communication via text; I hate trying to have long conversations via text.

IM is ok if I'm bored and stuck at my computer, but I'm not a huge fan otherwise. I think I treat it more like a real-time conversation than most others do, so I feel like I'm asking for a more intense focus on it than other people are generally used to (I can't let an IM just sit there, I feel like I need to immediately respond, and I get antsy if the other person doesn't immediately respond to me), and so it starts to feel intrusive for both parties.

Biggest fan of face-to-face, really.
posted by occhiblu 14 November | 15:26
In order:


And I'm another bunny who hates the phone. Blergh.
posted by deborah 14 November | 16:06
So what does it say about Mechas that we all pretty much don't like talking on the phone?
I think it probably works the other way around - the sort of people who hate talking on the phone are exactly the sort of people who fit in here.

For me, it's mainly because my phone rings constantly at work and it's almost never good news. When I get home and the phone rings, I just leave it. If people ask me for my home phone #, I say I don't have one. If it was up to me, it wouldn't exist now that we can get "naked" DSL.

Even though it is a real drag sometimes, I enjoy my time on the train to/from work (1 hour each way) because I feel like I'm in a cocoon and can cut myself off from everyone for a while. Even though there are lots of people around, I am under no pressure to interact with them. People can SMS or e-mail me but I can choose when and whether or not to respond. It's like twice-daily therapy for me.
posted by dg 14 November | 16:52
e-mail or face to face. I *hate* the phone. I HATE IT SO MUCH.
posted by The Whelk 14 November | 17:04
planned face to face

Anything else is usually close to torture, although my job is primarily email, and phone messages come from co-workers - although they may be in another office, I can look them up and see who they are and they always say why they are calling, so I can handle it. It really tweaked me to have to answer the phone, even in a low volume situation, and find a customer/client on the other end of the line.
posted by rainbaby 14 November | 17:20
I hate the phone. People call me up and ask "would you like to write about X?" and then proceed to give me lots of info which I can't write down because they always seem to call at the exact moment I'm picking my kid up from preschool, and I say yes email me the release and proceed to check the inbox only to find their stuff is buried by hundreds of other things where people didn't call (50% of the time I don't even find their stuff). So, in my case it's actually worse to call me because I end up spelling the email out several times to them, and the fact that I don't get an email makes me assume they got the address wrong, instead of just copy-pasting it from the homepage where it's written out right next to the phonenumber.
It doesn't help that the very same phone will get calls 15 times in a row from the same Lebanon number at 2 in the morning and five heavy breathing messages.
My new co-worker calls me and leaves long messages on that phone. Messages I never listen to because I log in once a week to the site to download my voicemail in case there are any new heavy-breathing ones to add to my collection [the file I give to cops so that they can block those damned numbers]
The only time I like the phone ringing is when it's a legal rep of someone calling in a C&D type dealio, then I can tell them straight up what my policy is (I do not remove submitted content) without having to type it out for the bazillionth time, plus they're quite nice to chat to, it's way more polite that way than having to send long legalease back and fourth. Well, everyone except youtubes lawyers they called and woke me up and seemed rather confused.

Email is good. I do lose emails. I delete emails after reading them. But I respond to emails and dates times, stuff like that sticks.

I do not do IM. I do do text and twitter and sms. But don't *reach* me on twitter, you email me if you want to reach me.
posted by dabitch 14 November | 17:29
Hahaha, as soon as I posted that, my work phone rang downstairs. At eleven thirty at night on a saturday. Mr Heavy breather is up early today, I guess.
posted by dabitch 14 November | 17:31
I no longer hate the phone, exactly, after spending several hours talking to strangers on it for a few years, but it does exacerbate the panicky pressure of not knowing what to say when silence falls (the same as I have in face-to-face conversations with everyone except a few family members and friends I've known for years). I don't really seem to be able to get away from that anxiety, although text helps a little bit, so if I'm not sure of myself around a person yet, IMs are probably the easiest. This isn't the case for co-workers and anyone else with whom I'm trying to discuss or hash something out that isn't purely social- there, I vastly prefer face-to-face because there's much less chance of someone getting offended or frustrated due to lack of subtext.

Part of me prefers blogging on a semi-private (that is, unknown to offline acquaintances and friends) site most of all because there I can be completely honest, and shrug off whatever functions I that assume in my other interactions in order to be tolerated. But that gets lonely once it has served its immediate purpose.

Regardless of my nonbelief in such things, I've come to accept that there's a highly-coincidental-to-the-point-of-appearing-psychic link with my mother, and with one friend. More than once one of us has dreamed of being needed by the other, and woken up to find a missed call or an unread email. It's charming, even if it does creep me out.
posted by notquitemaryann 14 November | 19:44
I actually kind of like the phone. I use email as much as anyone else, for work stuff or school stuff or quick "I need this info" messages, but all my personal stuff is usually over the phone. I'm conscious of when I need a paper trail/record (either for documentation or later searching), and that business is over email too. I text when I'm out and about, whether it's to inform someone that I'm waiting for them or because I saw/heard something that I want to tell someone. Facebook is for keeping in contact with people I wouldn't normally be in touch with.
posted by unsurprising 14 November | 20:05
Most favorite in descending order: email, text, chat (irc + IM). I really dislike talking on the phone, especially with certain acquaintances who take fricking forever to get to the point of the call, but I prefer the phone over F2F encounters with people I don't know.
posted by jamaro 14 November | 20:08
Aaaand I have one more thing to add, it turns out: If you are calling to ask me for a favor, when I ask you to email me the particulars, do so.

If you got me on the phone, then the odds are very good indeed that you caught me away from [my calendar/my datebook/my fieldbook/my desk], so I can't confirm right away that I can [feed your cat/send you that recipe/lend you my notes/email you my bibliography] until I get back there... by which time, I will have forgotten. I will tell you this on the phone. Believe me when I say it.
posted by Elsa 14 November | 20:11
Oh yeah, I forgot IM. I'm always on IM when I'm at my computer; it's a really bad (but fantastically distracting!) habit.
posted by unsurprising 14 November | 20:23
I was about to write a detailed rundown until I realized that I agree with occhiblu on exactly every point, including the thing about phone hatred exemptions for long rambly conversations with close but geographically distant friends or family.

posted by tangerine 14 November | 23:22
Woo! :-)
posted by occhiblu 15 November | 01:06
I've been really aware lately of the concept of externalizing memory. The more busy my life gets, the more people I make promises to, the less I can actually rely on my own self and my own will to remember and execute those promises. The electronic world is actually a really good place to export your intentions to and ensure that they will get done without your conscious remembering. Google calendar and its email reminders, Outlook calendar and its email reminders, that sort of thing - I need them more than ever. Once I record an appointment I can stop devoting active memory to it, and dedicate that mental space to something else. And email really helps with this; I rarely write down things like phone numbers or reservation confirmations any more, because I can call them up at will through an email search.

All this is essentially like finding a new, available part of your brain and assigning it to remember shit. As a result, I can't easily tell you off the bat whether I'm doing something next Tuesday; but my calendar can, and meanwhile, I can be more present with you right now.
posted by Miko 15 November | 01:16
I forgot to add Skype. It's kinda the phone but I'm using i to show my co-workers what I'm doing on my computer - showing them my screen - and that helps a lot when talking about design. I frickin' LOVE that feature. Plus the whole ability to keep my hands on the keyboard is aces.
posted by dabitch 15 November | 10:07
- Email is my first choice for any kind of serious communication that requires any kind of details.

- IM is handy for quick updates/questions. I use Pidgin since all of my friends/family use different systems Yahoo/Google/AIM

- I don't text much since I don't know too many other people who text (other than my son). I'd probably use it more if I knew that my friends knew how to read them.

- I actually like the phone for recreation, I'll chat with my sisters or old friends for hours but I hate it for business use. I've used my phone at work twice since I started in July and have no idea how to get my voice mail (which fortunately, I've never needed to use).
posted by octothorpe 15 November | 14:31
I've been really aware lately of the concept of externalizing memory.

Though it's only for the past decade or so that I've been using email to store info, I've been doing this at work (and then later, at school) for a couple of decades now. At the (non-computerized) boutique, I instituted The Notebook. I bought a simple spiral-bound notebook which we kept on the counter. Anything of any importance was written down in the notebook, along with a date and time. The back page had crucial phone numbers; the front pages outlined the opening and closing routines, along with a few other pieces of protocol.

At the beginning of each shift, each staff member took a few minutes to read through the most recent entries in The Notebook. If a customer had requested an item or reported a problem, it was written in The Notebook. If I had an appointment with a sales rep or distributor, it was written in The Notebook. If I was out of town, my number was jotted down in The Notebook. If you had a question for me when I was off, before you bothered me at home, you looked through The Notebook to see if the answer was there.

The Notebook was my proxy memory. We kept a folder full of old Notebooks, and always had a fresh one ready to replace the old as it filled up. Reading through The Notebooks is like reading a complete history of the boutique.

I loved The Notebook.

Occasionally, someone would ask "You need to write that down? Really?" I was too polite to utter the immediate truth ("You have no idea how many fucking pieces of trivial information y'all ask me to remember"), so I would usually answer with the equally-true "Why would I try to store all this disparate information in my brain when I can write it down?"
posted by Elsa 15 November | 15:20
I've been really aware lately of the concept of externalizing memory. The more busy my life gets, the more people I make promises to, the less I can actually rely on my own self and my own will to remember and execute those promises.
Yeah, I can relate to this. It seems that there is just so much stuff that I have to remember these days that I need to not try and remember things that are easily recorded and retrieved somewhere else. These days, it's my iPhone for appointments, tasks, shopping lists etc and I would be truly lost without it. An area that I am really struggling with is logins/passwords. I find that I simply can't remember any more - I'm fine with older ones, but I have to record anything new that gets added. It doesn't help that there are so many restrictions with passwords like not being able to re-use them, having to have bizarre combinations of various characters etc. Even just for work, I have too many to remember (one of my recent passwords was 'icantremembermypassword'). I wish there was a way to securely store this information somewhere portable (other than my brain, because it's clearly not up to the task).
posted by dg 15 November | 15:50
dg, there are encrypted password keeper apps for iPhones. Keeper seems to be the best reviewed but I've never used it. My wife has used something similar for years, but I'm not sure what she uses.
posted by octothorpe 15 November | 17:22
Just talked to my wife who said that she used to use eWallet for passwords but now just uploads them to a Google App spreadsheet.
posted by octothorpe 15 November | 17:53
Michael Moorcock is writing a Doctor Who novel! || Up and at 'em!