You know, sometimes I think that society as a whole is disintegrating. Through our interconnected world, now we can create many differing kinds of relationships in every corner of the globe. But what kind of social community, if any, do we truly build and maintain these days? A horrible and gut wrenching thought is that as communication is becoming easier and nearly instantaneous, long established social norms are falling by the wayside. You don’t believe me? I’ve personally witnessed this phenomenon in both personal and professional relationships of my own.
First, I’d like to briefly consider friendships. I had a friend with whom I regularly spoke when we lived relatively near each other. Of course, I’ve bounced around with employment. I haven’t stated rooting in one particular place for more than a couple of years at a time…sometimes only a handful of months. So, as our distance increased, so did the difficultly in communication. Obviously in the digital age, we had all sorts of methods to stay in touch. We didn’t have to rely upon the snail’s pace of the postal service, but had our choice of telephone, email, and even Facebook to discuss anything. And yet, due to apathy and neglect, the friendship fell apart. Not too long ago, I tried to resuscitate it, using these very same tools, but it was no use. Months passed without a response, without a single word in reply and so I had to grudging accept this virtual death of a friend.
I suppose these internet dating services work the same way too. You discover someone who seems to be a likely match and build up your hopes. Then, without any discernable rhyme or reason, you suffer a complete, total, and fatal loss of communication. Now what would cause this failure? We all know that long distance relationships often die and the cause is identical. The simple truth is that without face-to-face interactions, you can be discarded at anytime. With a few exceptions, when real, tangible, and constant reminders are absent, over time both parties come to think that neither the other person nor the relationship was truly authentic. Thus, the memory of such things fade as quickly as cut flowers in the hot sun.
The same holds true for political employment. I remember that as soon as I got out of college, I papered Washington D.C. with my resume, looking for my first big break in politics. Be it for better or worse, at that time I wasn’t quite ideologically grounded as I am today and so I applied to any person or organization that remotely resembled either a conservative or a Republican. I got a few call backs and had a few interviews. However, almost without exception, even those with whom I never got an interview, each sent a nicely worded rejection letter or email. Although a rejection letter was disappointing, waiting for a response was a far worse torment.
Times have changed…and not for the better. Since August of last year, I have sent my resume to numerous folks as I look to return to my calling in politics. And what is the typical response? Nothing. Pure silence. Although I do not expect a nice hand signed letter that was commonplace a mere seven or eight years ago, I do look forward to some sort of reply related to my inquiry. After all, if you consider of all of the time one has to invest to send a letter (even a form letter), you would think the scant minutes it takes to pick up the phone or send out an email would not seem like too high an expectation. Now I’ve inquired about a vast multitude of jobs these last two months but how many replies (letters, emails, and phone calls) do you think have I received by employers who have decided upon someone else? One. Only one.
So what has happened? Why, in this modern world, do many of us no longer take the time to respond to our friends and potential business associates? I’d like to tell you that it is merely a problem for those who run in political circles, but I believe that this discourteous disease has infected almost all of the population. The great question of the day is, what can account for this social distortion and destruction? Although I too am guilty of overlooking personal messages crowded among the spam (and yes it is sometimes hard to tell the difference), am I the only one who harbors feelings of guilt for doing so and tries to answer most of the calls and emails others send?
As we’ve been programmed with 30 second sound bites, I realize that you will likely forget this article, like so many emails, phone calls, and people.
Just bear in mind that it is not cool to ignore.