“The lament that we are dis­con­nected from the real world is sim­ply not true”

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page -

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.

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