Sunday, May 25, 2014

ברוכים הבאים למאה ה21 Welcome to the 21st century

True story: I ate breakfast with someone I don’t ordinarily see, and she was waxing on about an amazing lecture she’d heard on interpersonal relationships by therapist Hedy Schleifer. Intrigued, when I got to work I looked up Shleifer and found her on TED. Because I enjoy follow-through, i.e., telling the rest of you with whom I share this planet that I’m listening to you; and assuming that most of us are flattered and feel validated when what we say is followed up on, I shot my breakfast companion a mail with the Subject line “Hedy Schleifer”. The body: “Found this. Will view later!” Telegraphic, you say? Perhaps. Apparently, the recipient found it curt, even offensive.

Smiling, I asked her at lunch if she’d seen my mail. Here’s how the rest of the conversation went [recall that ironically, Schleifer is now her interpersonal relations guru]:

She: Yeah. What was that?

Me: What do you mean?

She: What was I supposed to do with that?

Me: Uh, click on the link.

She: What was the link?

Me: Her lecture.

She: I don’t need to hear her lecture [walks off, leaving me feeling like I’d committed an unforgivable faux pas].

OK, Schleifer Chasid and all you other Earth-dwellers who haven’t get gotten the memo: You know those words in e-mails (often “this” or “here”) that are in blue and underlined, as above? Those are this 20th-century invention called hyperlinks. What are you supposed to do with them? You left-click them with your mouse and they lead you to a website, in which you presumably have some passing interest. It saves us from having to write mails like the following:

Dear Breakfast Companion,
I was so intrigued by your description of Hedy Schliefer that as soon as I got to a computer, I performed an online search for her. Lo and behold, I found a lecture by her. You can see the lecture by clicking on the following link: Have a nice day!

In the 21st century, that translates to: “Found this. Will view later!” It’s meant to be neither curt nor offensive; it’s meant to save us both time. Got it?

And while we’re on the subject, Here’s a short quiz: I write you a mail containing the text, “…not to go all Hedy Schleifer on you, but…” You have no idea what I’m referring to. You:
                 a) Write me back asking, “Who’s Hedy Schleifer?"
                 b) Look up “Hedy Schleifer” online

The correct answer is (b). You necessarily have Internet access if you’re downloading and reading mail, no? Therefore, you open your browser and search for “Hedy Schleifer”. If you do (a), I’ll reply with “Look here.” Ah, that pesky blue underlined word again. What’s that? All together now: A hyperlink! And what do we do when we see a hyperlink? If you don’t know by now, sign up for remedial reading comprehension.

In case you haven't figured it out, I have less and less patience for anyone under the age of 60 who’s still sheepishly referring to hizzerself as a “technophobe” or who can’t perform a basic online search. And I don’t accept the claim that my work is computer based, so I have a leg up. This is now basic stuff, folks. The wheel is not going to turn back: Master these skills and get on board with the digital world. You can only benefit.

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