“The lament that we are disconnected from the real world is simply not true”
The other day I lost my voice. Not in the “I was so disempowered I couldn’t find my inner song” kind of way, but in the “I actually could not speak” kind of way.
I was on a work trip having a lovely conversation with a friend when my throat started to feel a little scratchy.
I assumed this was because of me constantly y having to tell her she was wrong but, t, even after I got back to my hotel, my voice had clearly gone from m gravelly to husky. I had started the he evening sounding like Clint Eastwood twood and finished it sounding like Kathleen Turner.
Unflustered, stered, I took a sip of water and d cleared my throat, only to discover scover I had just cleared my throat of absolutely everything. ng. I was no longer able to make ake a sound.
Not being eing able to talk is frustrating ng for anyone, but it is particularly cularly frustrating for someone one whose job is to talk on a talk show.
Suddenly nly I was wiped from Studio 10, and the audience was no longer onger able to hear my musings on structural power imbalance ce in the late Roman republic. That same week, U2 had to cancel ncel a concert because Bono had d lost his voice. It was hard to conceive onceive how much more the e world could take. Meanwhile, I was stuck alone in a hotel room unable to see anyone or do anything. It was like watching Lost In Translation back-to-back for 48 hours, but with no Scarlett Johansson. The first thing I discovered was that despite the modern lament we are all disconnected from the real world, nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, the biggest pr problem is that we are not disconnecte disconnected enough. Everything, from orderi ordering room service and trying to expla explain why I hate aioli to going to th the chemist for my fifth packet o of Codral and trying to explai explain I wasn’t running a meth lab lab, involved an actual conversa conversation with a real-life person – something I was incapable of doing. You would thin think in the age of smartphon smartphones and social media, talking talkin would become redundant. But in fact there is no greater im impairment to communication th than communications tech technology. Leaving aside all th the obvious drawbacks of talking t to people – such as human inte interaction – it is actually a remarkab remarkably efficient way of getting things done. Compare having a chat with a few workmates to a group email. In the chat, e everyone is present, knows what was said, and generall generally goes off knowing what they need to do. By contrast, the group email inevitably results in the wrong person replying, then sending another email apologising, by which time a third person has already told them they are the wrong person, resulting in the wrong person sending the third person a third email referring them to their second email.
Meanwhile the right person hasn’t sent anything at all because right people don’t respond to group emails.
Frankly, there hasn’t been a bigger waste of time since Alexander Graham Bell had to wait for someone to invent a second telephone. Indeed, it is worth noting that Bell himself refused to have a phone in his study because he didn’t want all this hi-tech rubbish distracting him from getting things done.
Anyway, as it turned out, my first words back tell you everything you need to know about communication in the 21st century. The first was “Hello?” and the second was “Sorry!” Joe co-hosts Studio 10, 8.30am weekdays, on Network Ten and is Editor-at-large for News.com.au.