With this week’s post The Perfect Response reaches a milestone. This is the 200th weekly offering on this site. Each has addressed issues common to all of us in this “age of distraction.” Our Analytics numbers indicate that there are about 1000 active users who visit the site each month. Thank you for being one of them. Here’s a look back at five posts that garnered responses from readers. Click the title to see the full essay. All others are listed and accessible using the “Published Posts” link below the masthead.
Singer-songwriter Paul Simon was suggested as a good lunch companion. He has been a stream-of-consciousness poet for several generations. Another liked the idea of sharing a meal with Jesus. It’s hard to quarrel with that choice. But the guest of honor would probably make me a nervous eater. Did I order to much? Should I have shared it? And why didn’t I suppress the joke about turning my water into wine? (September 2, 2017)
There are many circumstances when the urge to respond is worth suppressing. Sometimes saying nothing is better than any other alternative: less wounding or hurtful, or simply the best option in the presence of a communication partner who is out for the sport of a take-down. (July 4, 2014)
As little closets expected to hold 10 or 12 people, elevators represent the triumph of necessity over comfort. Walking twelve flights is a good workout. But no one wants to arrive at their business destination looking like they just finished the New York Marathon. So in the cramped space of the little vertical room, eyes are averted to the ceiling, the poster advertising the restaurant in the lobby, or to a middle distance that is supposed to relieve others of the need to respond. (December 5, 2014)
The essential ritual of acknowledging another is a cornerstone of our sociality. “Communication” can mean transferring the most complex of ideas or feelings. But stripped to its essential core, it usually includes a gesture that confirms another person’s worth. (November 1, 2014)
Until the advent of widespread electric telegraphy in the 1850s, and with the exception of the printed word, direct communication with another in the same space has always anchored human communities. The very idea of a sociology of human relationships is mostly predicated on the expectation that we have direct and real-time access to each other. (December 9, 2015).