If you want my attention, you must earn it

My pal Todd sent me an email yesterday with a link to a YouTube video. I asked why he didn’t just direct message me on Twitter or Google Chat.

“Email is easier for me,” was his reply. He was sharing something he thought was interesting so he gets to decide what works best for him. Right?

A lot of people screen their in-coming phone calls. This infuriates some callers who feel you have an obligation to take their call.

All of this got me thinking about who controls communications of this sort. The “sender” or the “receiver.”

Every evening our USPS mail box is filled with junk mail that we routinley throw in the dust bin (for my UK pals). I asked the mailman about this last week, if there is any easy way to stop 3rd class mail. He mumbled something about writing each of the senders. Yeah, right. In that instance, the direct mail people control the communication up to the point I shit-can the stuff.

I was intrigued by the decision of UNC professor Paul Jones to abandon email altogether:

“I spent 30 years investing in email,” Jones said. “The undergrads I teach use everything but email. Journalists use Twitter. You can use anything else to get in touch with me — text messages, AIM, G-chat, Facebook, Facebook chat … but I was investing too much into email and getting little back.”

I send a lot of email but don’t expect anyone to open and read what I send. It’s my responsibility to make the subject line so interesting and relavent to the recipient that she WANTS to read it.

This seems pretty cut-and-dried to me. You might want to communicate something to me, but you need my permission. I have to open the email (or snail mail); pick up the phone; grant your friend request.

It’s my attention. If you want some of it, you have to earn it.


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