Tag Archives: cell phone

Doing Nothing

Doing nothing is very hard to do…

you never know when you’re finished. – Leslie Nielsen

Graphics - MDC - Sitting Under A Tree

Doesn’t it feel great to just do nothing? And yet I think that is even becoming a lost art. As Leslie Nielsen says, it’s hard to do.

Not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, we have become so connected with cell phones, e-mail and the Internet that it’s like we live in the middle of a spider’s web, with multiple strands leading to and from us to thousands, maybe even millions, Worldwide. And it’s very hard to disconnect and turn it off.

It seems like just about everyone has a cell phone, and at times it looks like everyone is talking to someone at the same time. Last summer I was in a Ruby Tuesday® having lunch, and four young ladies were seated at a table next to me. After giving their drink order, they all picked up cell phones and called someone they felt the need to connect with. When the waitress brought my food I asked her, “Do you think they’re talking to each other over the phones?” She laughed, stared at them for a minute and replied, “Could be!”

At no time that I was there did they disconnect and talk to each other. As a matter of fact, one wouldn’t stop talking long enough to give the waitress her order. And when conversation ended they would just call someone else. Now, that’s taking it to the extreme, but it does happen.

Graphics - MDC - Bluetooth Headset

In an airport I noticed a man wearing two Bluetooth® earpieces. I heard a phone ringing and he pressed one headset to disconnect, as he pressed the other to make a connection with someone else.

Another incident is the guy in a McDonald’s® at the table next to mine eating breakfast, typing e-mails and taking a multitude of calls on his cell phone.

What would the lives of these people be like if suddenly all these things were taken away from them? Could they handle the silence? Could they do nothing?

Over the years I have learned the ability to turn off my mind and think of nothing. Just sit there and enjoy the quieting of my mind. To be still, and yet be able to function. This was hard to learn how to do, but well worth the effort. And it frustrated my late wife. She would ask, “You’re very quiet, what are you thinking?” and when I replied, “absolutely nothing,” she would sigh and puzzle how I could do that.

Can you do it? Can you just totally disconnect from the World and take a mental vacation? Can you still your life and your mind? Can you go on vacation and leave the cell phone and computer back at the hotel, and go out and have a good time without the need to stay connected? Can you? For the sake of your mental health, I hope you can.

If you take pride in your work...sign it! - © 2009, Ric Morgan and SimpleWords Communications. All rights reserved.

If you take pride in your work...sign it! - © 2009, Ric Morgan and SimpleWords Communications. All rights reserved.


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Observations of the Internet – Part Two

Yesterday we started talking about the Internet and e-mail messages. Today we will pick up where we left off and continue with my observations.

One thing I try to do is think of the receiver of the message. Am I stating clearly and in as concise a manner as possible what I want to convey? Am I repeating myself? Is the message informative? Does it make the receiver want to reply? I even go so far as to put all my messages in bold print and a larger font so it easy for the recipient to read. How do I know whether he or she is visually impaired? I don’t, so I make it as easy as I can to get my message across as I can. Remember, your e-mail represents you.

Proofread everything you send to others. Remember, it represents YOU!

Proofread everything you send to others. Remember, it represents YOU!

But this is not just about e-mails. Proofread and proofread and proofread EVERYTHING you post, whether it be a web site or a blog or before you send it to the printer. You’ll see this really well done web page, with elaborate designs, maybe even some animation and done in good, easy to read colors, and as you are reading it you find misspelled words. Oh well, so much for doing business with this person or company. But it’s not just small businesses and independent business people. I have seen web pages from large, multi-national, multi-billion dollar corporations with grammatical mistakes.

And it’s not just the Internet. I was not witness to this story, so it could be an urban legend for all I know, but I have heard several times about the full-page ad placement that cost millions of dollars put in several large daily and national newspapers by Coca-Cola® that had misspellings in it. If it’s true, who and how many people lost their jobs over that?

Another thing about e-mails, especially ones I get from businesses: senders don’t always give enough contact information. For example: “if you have any questions, contact us.” But then there is no “signature”, telephone number, e-mail or webpage address…nothing. Hmmm… Yeah, people are falling all over themselves to buy from them.

From time-to-time, to help in the research for a column I have relied on HARO (Help-a-Reporter-Out) to post an inquiry for information I am looking for. In my message I always put very specific instructions on how someone should reply and I always post a deadline. You would not believe the number of people who don’t fully read things and follow instructions given to them. And the deadline? Forget it. I have had replies come so late the column has already been written and posted. Is it so hard to read the whole thing? And if they fail to follow the instructions and I dump them, they get upset and send a follow-up message complaining for not including them.

Graphics - MDC - Twitter 01My final observation about the net is that it has become some sort of competition…how many Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn connections do you have. Only 50, gee, is there something wrong with you. I have a friend (yes, I have friends, and no I don’t have to pay them to do it) who has over 200,000 people following him on Twitter, and he is following nearly as many. I have a little over 200  (join me if you would like…I’d be pleased to have you) and he thinks there is something very wrong with me. And most of mine are links to businesses on the site and news organizations, while his is God only knows who (or whom). Of course he wastes a lot of time on Twitter, reading one 140-character post after another and sending his 140-character treatises about everything from the fact that he is now having some rye toast, with his cereal and coffee for breakfast, to the fact that he is tired and going to bed at 2:00 A.M. WHO CARES?

Don’t even get me started about text messaging. We’ll save that for another rant.

The Internet is a great, wonderful and a very useful tool; without it you wouldn’t be reading this column. But it can also be an enormous waste of time. People don’t connect face-to-face the way they used to. They sit at home, in front of the computer screen, while the TV is going next to them, and they kill hour-after-hour of doing nothing useful, or what even seems fun. Ask a bunch of friends to go out to dinner and most will bow out, saying they have something else they need to do or other plans. But call them later the night you planned on going out, and ask them what they are doing and they will tell you things like checking out Twitter, or Facebook, or texting someone in France. OK, but there is a whole other World out there that is vastly more fun. And oh, by the way, how long has it been since you read a book or magazine that you could hold in your hands?

If you take pride in your work...sign it! - © 2009, Ric Morgan and SimpleWords Communications. All rights reserved.

If you take pride in your work...sign it! - © 2009, Ric Morgan and SimpleWords Communications. All rights reserved.

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Observations of the Internet – Part One

There is no doubt in my mind that the dumbing-down of America really does exist. And along with that is a certain lack of pride in what people do and how they do it.

I think the Internet is one of the best inventions of all times. That and cell phones just seem wondrous and magical to me. To be able to take your telephone with the same number just about anywhere and be able to be found by the systems using digital radio signals and satellite technology and talk to people who have no idea where you are is like a dream. Only visionaries were able to see that one coming. Remember the old Dick Tracy comics?

Dick Tracy - Copyright Chester Gough

Dick Tracy - Copyright Chester Gough

And the Internet is the same way.Through a simple formula of letters, numbers and symbols, the fact you can be in contact with people literally around the World is at times beyond belief. For all I know someone in China or Japan reads this column regularly. And then, they can compose and post a message that will arrive on my computer in just milliseconds. This has changed the face of the planet forever, and I can hardly wait to see what’s next. Everyone who has a computer with an Internet connection, or a cell phone capable of going online, can be in touch with anyone, anywhere at anytime. Of course there has to be concessions made for cultural differences and knowledge of secondary languages, so those instances don’t apply to what I am about to say.

Combine the technology with the consistent drop in intellect, and you get a very strange mix.

Besides the big corporations, there are millions of people trying to conduct business on the net. The vast majority are probably small or home-based businesses trying to market their products or services to the masses in the hopes of making a sale. But the level of professionalism of these people, and even large corporations, is suffering.

First, I don’t think professionalism is foremost in the minds of very many people, but the inability to act in a professional manner says a lot. I get hundreds of e-mails that are so confusing I’m not always sure what they are trying to say to me. It occurs to me that people don’t really know what professionalism is any more. Maybe that is something else that is evolving, but I hope not, because I don’t like it.

Listen up folks; e-mail messages represent you both personally and professionally. Once you click on SEND, it’s out there for the whole World to see…forever. If you send a poorly written message, if you send something stupid and rude, if you send something private or if you send a message or post a page that is full of misspellings, poor grammar and looks like it was done by a deranged monkey, that speaks volumes about you. I especially dislike messages that use Internet-speak, except for the occasional LOL (laughing out loud), ROTFLOL (rolling on the floor, laughing out loud) and I hate how lazy people have become so they don’t capitalize or use any punctuation (il met u @ 8 @ bar hop we met som grt8 lokn wmn 2nite :-o). And what about using the net and text messages to eliminate the hassle of sending a birthday or thank you card, or even telling your wife the marriage is over?

Graphics - MDC - Hand-written e-mail messageMy first suggestion is to learn to become a class act and get off the computer or phone and do the things people do the respectable and respectful way.

I learned very early in the Internet game that e-mail, web sites and blogs represent me just as much as a hand-written letter, a face-to-face meeting or telephone call does. There really is no difference.

My next suggestion is to proofread any digital form of communications just as you would anything else. Check your spelling and don’t rely on spell checkers; they are frequently wrong because they don’t analyze context. Think of this: there is by and buy. In a promotional e-mail you might read, “If you want to by this book…” The spell checker won’t catch that mistake and if you send that out people are going to think you are something less than a bright light, and there goes your sales.

I proofread every e-mail I send, no matter how short or long it is, and yes, there are times I miss something and it gets through. But I work hard to make sure my messages are as correct as I can make them. I even get compliments from people who deal with me over time with e-mail and tell me how much they enjoy getting something from me that is always correct. Believe me, it has helped me both personally and professionally. I once got a speaking engagement because the meeting planner said I was prompt with my replies, always gave good information, and that my messages were some of the best she got from anyone else she deals with.
Continued tomorrow…

If you take pride in your work...sign it! - © 2009, Ric Morgan and SimpleWords Communications. All rights reserved.

If you take pride in your work...sign it! - © 2009, Ric Morgan and SimpleWords Communications. All rights reserved.

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