Responding is dangerous. Who would have thought that responding (or not) to a message, post, news or comment on the internet would become an activity full of complications. Recently, writer Mariah Kreutter addressed this “reply” phenomenon in the publication Dirt.
What is answered matters. Mariah remembers that the worst response or reaction someone can receive is the hand with the thumb raised (the popular thumbs up). In the culture that has emerged on the internet, reacting unsolicited to a post or story with a yellow thumb raised is practically an insult. In her view, a symbol of the acronym IDGAF in English (“I don’t give a fuck”) — “I don’t give a damn”, in Portuguese.
There are also professional responders. You post anything and people respond instantly, whether with text or emoji. What it means? Is it something to be celebrated, having someone who follows everything you do, or something to be feared?
There is also the problem of delay in response. You write to someone and they don’t respond. Or it takes a while to respond. This automatically leads to speculation. Did the person see the message? Your cell phone is broken, is there no signal? Or did you have an accident?
In most cases, no one thinks about the most likely hypothesis: that we all have increasing demands for attention and limited ability to respond. A delay or lack of response may simply mean that the recipient was unable to read or have the time or opportunity to respond.
Of course, silence can also have a meaning. It can be the message itself. This hypothesis is also likely, but we don’t like to think about it.
One of the most common forms of communication today is “ghosting”. Simply disappear and stop responding to someone’s messages, without explanation. This peculiar type of silence is often used to end contemporary relationships, evoking TS Eliot’s poem that the world ends “not with a bang, but with a groan.”
Ghosting itself has become a literary theme. There are several recent poems written about him. One, by J. Autherine, says “no goodbyes or clarity, just the cold wind of separation, strangers again, without so much as an emoji to warm us up.”
Soon this limitation on our ability to respond will disappear. The time for virtual assistants based on artificial intelligence is approaching. The tendency is for each person to have their own. These assistants will be able to read the messages we receive and respond to all of them using our style and guidance.
For example, a cell phone recently launched by a big tech company has an assistant that answers all phone calls on our behalf, with a natural voice.
It identifies itself as our artificial assistant and talks to the person on the other end normally. Ask what it is about and then filter the call. If it’s telemarketing, it says we’re busy and can’t answer. If it’s something important, forward the call and only then will the phone ring.
In the future, it’s possible that our AI assistants will be talking to each other, responding to each other. While fishing or walking in the park. At that moment, no one will be left without an answer. When the abundance of artificial responses arrives, perhaps we will even miss the cold wind of ghosting.
It’s over The ‘thumbs up’ as a sign of recognition
Already Ghosting as a language in the contemporary digital world
It’s coming AI assistants answering for us
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