Some days you read the stuff people send you (stuff is the nice way of saying it), and your head can't stop shaking left and right with wonder. Why are these f------ e-mails, tweets, and status updates being sent my way when I could not care less about what these people have to say? Then you add wistfully: They know it, too.
Most people have yet to learn there is a yawning gap between writing and typing. People we know have keyboards with them 24 hours a day and are bombarding us with "knowledge" that is pivotal to only them, beyond trivial, and worse, eye-roll-inducing. Do our acquaintances want us to think less of them?
Is this another Groucho Marx moment where the person who writes us doesn't want to be a member of a club that would have him or her as a member?
No. It's just Lack of Substance Syndrome, and it's making life online unbearable.
I thought of an idea: For the next 30 days, every IM, SMS, blog comment, post (don't you dare include this), mail, update, tweet, or whatever you receive from someone who wasted his or her time to waste yours, write this person these words:
"Please don't send me anything unimportant, or I will stop conversing with you for the rest of your life. And I'm not being dramatic."
Simple. It's so simple it might work. You can hope this person will see your point and hate you for it. Hate you so much he or she will never bother you again. See, if this person is a real friend, he or she will either a) realize he or she been bombarding you with messages that are stupid and will wizen up chumpiness, or b) he or she will call (imagine a phone call you will actually pick up for) and talk through your need for something
If they're a quasi-work-related-friend-who-uses-you, say the kind who sends you a LinkedIn hookup when he or she is about to get canned, chances are you will get 1,000 excuses and reasons why it's "not the case." But, no. If the return e-mail is more gibberish, you must immediately blacklist this person from your e-mail, unfollow, de-Facebook, Link-Out, delete the picture on your phone, and make said person go away.
There is a way to do this automatically now, and it's rather ingenious. This new add-on for Firefox called Ex-Blocker (http://bit.ly/9MgjoK) makes it so you will never see mentions of them on any social networks if they turn up in anything. I use it all the time. It's remarkable.
In this please-someone-send-me-something-I-actually-want-to-read world, everyone who abuses you with a lot of typing that turns out to be nonsensical crapdom deserves to be called an "ex."
This could be the start of something. It doesn't have to be big. I see it as an environment free of b------- where you and I communicate but everyone else sits on their hands. It is a world we can love without ever bitching. That's enough for me.
Tweet me @laermer. Or choose not to.
Richard Laermer is CEO of New York's RLM pr, representing, among others, e-Miles, Epic Advertising, Yodlee, Revolution Money, Group Commerce, Smith & Nephew, and HotChalk. He was host of TLC's cult program Taking Care of Business and speaks on trends and marketing for corporate groups. You can read Laermer on The Huffington Post and on the mischievous but all-too-necessary Bad Pitch Blog. For more like this, follow him on @laermer.