Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Unintended Recipients

Today, my hunter-gatherer brain is struggling with the modernity of the tasks it is forrced to deal with. Given the capabilites it developed for stone-age survivial, it is very good at directing me where to throw a rock in order to anticipate the location of a fleeing and edible animal and excellent at judging whether the other human I have encountered is well disposed towards me or is likely to club me to the ground with a blunt object and boil my head as a belt adornment. We are generally good at things that help us avoid being genetic cul de sacs.

What mine is not good at however, is juggling the many pieces of information that pass rapidly through my attention, requiring adapting, redacting, interpretation and disseminiation to a particular audience.
Similarly, it was never designed to deal with the proliferation of material objects in a modern house and their distribution to their various correct places in the home. This is why the credit card bill gets discovered in the fridge and my keys end up in the microwave.

Today, a number of very technical or political emails need writing and sending to the correct people. Try as I might, I cannot escape that feeling after I have pressed send, that I have dispatched the wrong email to unintended recipients. I read and reread the headers, scanning the To: fields and the CC: fields, knowing full well that these are the people I need to send this information to.Prompted by the knowledge that a small moan about someone would be at least embarrassing to go to the wrong audience, I peer suspiciously at the email addresses and finding no mistakes, I send the message. And yet, not trusting myself, I keep checking the "sent items" to make sure that in my renowned dippyness, I have not created a howler that will bite me painfully upon receipt.

I am reminded of a particularly arrogant sales rep once who wrote a scathing email about a customer being childish and unreasonable on a certain point and then promptly sent it to them, instead of to his boss as he had intended. That is sphincter-clenchingly embarrassing.

And today,in my head, my communication commitments all go round and round as a big cloud of information, waiting to be sifted into knowledge and fired off to be read by someone who will discern its significance.
Only somehow, I feel there is too much of it and like a tornado in a midwest trailer park, a maelstrom of stuff is circulating incoherently in my head, only instead of pants, small surprised dogs and minor household items, it is ideas, concepts and data that swirl around to be snatched wriggling and unwieldy from the confusion, and stuffed into the appropriate place. What if I accidentally send the sensitive financial stuff to a big distribution list of hard-bargaining customers? Imagine if the arcane technical secrets of particularly clever accomplishments are received by a customer with leaky allegiances instead of one of our own techies? It could be the end of me!

Like some scatterbrained postman, that delivers The Greenpeace membership package to Grumpy Daily Mail reader ar number 29, Mrs Wossname's Ann Summers toys to the crusty dowager at Rose Cottage and the Slipknot CD and Knock-off viagra to the evangelicals at the Old Rectory, who knows how much consternation my own disorganisation might cause.

All around is a vast sea of information which at the touch of a button, could bring about a disaster through accidental, careless or haphazard misdirection.
And most days, I feel this can all be routed happily and safely to the right places.
But somehow, today, confusion reigns and i just know that at some point, I am going to hit send and someone somewhere is going to cough coffee all over their screen in shock or outrage. Today, my poor paleolithinc brain is just not up to it. I am going to do something epically stupid.

I think I had best go for a walk, get a haircut, buy some digestive biscuits and see if I can get a grip on my errant attention before I do something to get me fired.


Librarian said...

And, did you? (Send an email to the wrong recipient, get a haircut, buy digestive biscuits?)

The good thing in all this: your mind's whirling is back. If I understood your previous posts correctly, you quite missed that.

Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

It is Genius Ben who has led us to you and we have been much intrigued by your very unusual and eclectic blog as to wish to know more. Hence we have signed as Followers.

How very alarming that you have, we assume today, been faced with the prospect of writing some emails of a technical and political nature. In life we have avoided all those who pride themselves on being of sound technical mind and, since the fall of the Labour government, our political friends are mostly in the wilderness looking for gainful employment until such day as the fickle British electorate will, once more, elect them to a seat in the House of Commons.

So, we are, of course, intrigued to learn to whom such emails are being correctly or otherwise sent. Perhaps more will be revealed in your next post.

Meanwhile, in Budapest where we live microwaves are, since the collapse of Communism, not uncommon but being without one we have no fear of misplacing our keys in that particular spot.

PerlNumquist said...

Jane and Lance, how lovely of you to stop by and to leave such a lovely comment! One hears such dismay and derision of the Internet by contemporary commentators. it iswonderful to know that in some "places" at least, intelligence not only persists, but flourishes.
The technical emails are a necessary part of my professional persona: I am not in fact an engineer, lacking the attention span for such a career. I do however masquerade as one on a daily basis to earn my crust.
I am sure I saw microwave ovens in Budapest last year when I was there. Perhaps it was a new form of television with a very realistic screen depicting rotating morsels on plates. As for the politicals, well, its not a job I would want these days.