Textually Speaking

In Communication, Interpersonal, Office humor on February 11, 2013 at 13:21

Though no one has ever accused you of being a grandpa, in some ways, you are what one would call old fashioned. For you jeans will always be blue, tea will always be black and formal will always equal no fun.

Homer Blue Pants Headvertising

But that’s you. Natalie is different. She is geographically distant and dispositionally far-off. She is occupied with the person and oblivious to dictionary. She uses more exclamation marks in a week than you would have come across in a life time of reading. Time seems to be treating her well and auto-spell is her bitch.

Bee Girl

A routine e-mail from Natalie reads as follows:


how have u been ??!?

Looong taime

Hey, can you send the MoM of last night’s call?

Thanks a million buddy!

C ya soooon!!


What do you say to that? You have never used an exclamation mark in a formal mail and you want to keep it that way. You come close though as you feel compelled to return the rare joviality or at least acknowledge it.

What gets to you is the consistency. You may have bad days, mood swings and paper cuts. Natalie seems to be on one continuous acid trip. The same chirpiness, the same exclamation marks and the same devil may read the dictionary syntax. You have come close to slipping in a smiley in your replies. But you fear straying into an emoticon binge and check yourself.


Other times you come close to sending the following replies:

‘I am doing the same as yesterday, just like you’

‘You don’t like spell check, do you?’


‘On Prozac, are we?’

When the day finally arrives to talk to Natalie you are surprised to find yourself looking forward to it. You hold the receiver some distance away from your ear to buffer the sharp cries you are expecting from the other end. Instead, you hear nothing. You bring the receiver closer.

‘Hello, Natalie? Can you hear me?’

‘…yes. He…hello,’ comes a murmur in reply.

‘How are you? Its good to finally talk to you.’

‘Ye…yes. I am…good, I am good.’

What follows is one of the most queasy conversations of your life. You regret having made the call. The world seemed a better place with crazies like Natalie. Now, its just a place where typing a thought is better than living it.

joker smiley

She has gone back to her vibrant e-mails. But in person, she always comes across as a shadow of her inbox avatar. Now that you know the effort that can go into a putting up a smile, you will never ignore a kind word again.

– J.

  1. OMG!!! Awesome post dude . . . had me ROFLMAO!!!

    oh, wait, this isn’t an email . . .ahem

    A very trenchant disquisition on the state of communication in the global workplace.

    I think Aditi is right about bipolar instant communications πŸ™‚

    • LoL

      Unfortunately it is the Zombie part of the persona that is necessary to be employable for the global jobs of today

      It also raises questions about being formal all the time to the point of sounding like Viki from iRobot
      You may delete an e-mail but the server never forgets

      …I feel the kernel of a new post coalescing

      Thanks Thomas

  2. Natalie may be one extreme, but I think in this instant communication environment, we are all getting slightly bipolar..

    I mean how many of us actually have a genuine smile on our faces while typing out smilies in emails, smses and chat windows? (Even when the boss is not around)

    Smilies, uber cool, casual writing have all got into our system, and so many times we find ourselves typing like Natalie perfunctorily, without the feeling behind the words.

    Well chosen topic, J πŸ™‚ (and I actually smiled while typing this smiley)

    • Zombie Apocalypse!

      Glad the post has some smile-inducing spunk

      PS: I like the word ‘perfunctorily’

      • And I like the zombie analogy… The way I see it , most of us tech-savvy-constantly-updating-status-individuals have sub-consciously got split into two personalities- one is our true self, like the Natalie on phone; and the other is the zombie persona displayed to the world – neither alive, nor dead- just a fictional character that may bear shades from the real self.

      • Unfortunately, it is only the zombie part of the personality that is employable in the ‘global’ jobs of the future

  3. Somehow I like abrupt endings.. that fascination might be due to R.K Narayan books but yes they are extremely effective when pulled right.. n u do it really well ..n yes thoughts linger after the blog is over

  4. Incredible it is !!! liked lot of things … and you end your blogs bloody well πŸ™‚ !!!!!

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