The digital diss

February 3, 2010

Inspired by this fabulous blog post, I would like to discuss the unfortunate ease of what I shall dub “the digital diss.”

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I am the worst at getting in touch with people (love you, Ellen!). I’m not a big phone person, and basically rely on texts, IMs and emails to communicate. While I am slowly trying to break myself of this absurd communication freeze, it is easy to see how technology makes it easier for people to be isolated rather than come together.

Ponder this, if you will: You’re bumming around your house/apartment/wherever when your phone rings. You glance at the caller ID and decide not to answer. That decision is one type of a digital diss. Since you were able to see who was calling, you could make a conscious decision to avoid that person’s call.

Before caller ID, people always answered the phone. If someone took the time to dial your number, you gave them the courtesy of answering. Whether it was a telemarketer or your mom, you didn’t know until you lifted the receiver to your ear and said, “Hello.” Now, it’s easy to tell ourselves that we can call them later or just send them a message and it will be fine, or to just blow them off altogether.

Another example of a digital diss involves the wonderful world of Facebook and its friending system. Users send friend requests to anyone they have ever known, and accept similar requests from people they hardly know to boost their friends total. But if you get into a fight with someone and decide you no longer want them in your life, what is one of the first ways to cut them out? Un-friend them. An attentive Facebook user will see that their friends total has decreased, will investigate and discover that they have been removed from your virtual world. Burn!

There are many other ways to dish out a digital diss, from blocking IMs to not following someone on Twitter, and everything in between.

Which leads me to wonder – are all of these so-called technological wonders really doing us that much good when they make it so easy to treat others badly?

Have you ever doled out a digital diss? Do you think tech innovations have done more harm than good to interpersonal communication? Share your thoughts with the rest of us.



  1. Ouch, that is rough, Tim. You think about things like that, but never expect to actually happen in the real world (seems like a TV show storyline, right?).

    And Glenn, I am sure we are all guilty of screening every now and then (if not always). It’s good to hear that you are trying to keep things on the up-and-up with Facebook friending, too. It may just be time for me to do some thinning out of my friend list. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. A digital-diss gone very bad: Not only did I eye the caller ID on my cell phone and decide not to pick up, but I did so when the girl who was calling me was, unbeknownst to me, calling from about 25-feet away in the coffee shop I was in at the time.

    Talk about awkward.

  3. I freely admit I have doled out digital disses before, but I think they’re all with good reason!

    For example…do I screen my phone calls? Absolutely, but that comes with having a cell. It’s impossible not to look and see who’s calling. There are certain times when I just don’t feel like talking to certain people – maybe I’m just tired, in the middle of something, etc.

    The Facebook deleting? Hey, things happen. I try to ‘maintain FB integrity’ by not accepting EVERY request that comes my way. It doesn’t always work. I’ve also deleted people who either a) are no longer in my universe or b) were people I shouldn’t have added in the first place. I’m probably more judicious with my adds though.

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