More years ago than I care to recount here I worked with a Springfield radio legend — Bill Ring. Bill was a great guy with a gazillion stories to tell. He also always had time to talk to the new “knucklehead” — me. We worked together in that grand old flagship radio building on South Glenstone, home to KWTO. I was actually hired by the Skipper himself, Mr. Ralph Foster. By the way, that building still stands and looks exactly as it did then. For a rookie broadcaster like me it was a dream come true job. Back then we had an engineer on the other side of the glass and working the on-air studio was about as cool as it got. Bill Ring did a wildly popular fishing show and always signed off every show with, “If you’re too busy to go fishin’, you’re too busy.” If I might borrow from the new vernacular, he was spot-on.
Fast forward about 40 years. It is ridiculously easy to get caught up in the freak show we call occupation where pushing paper, pushing hot-buttons, pushing a meeting, and pushing people is considered perfectly normal. No one knows that better than me and I will confess I have been guilty of all that on more than one occasion. I’ll bet you have worked with or do work with that poor sap who can’t wait to bitch about having 1,000 emails in their in-box but curiously grin at you while reporting it. Come on, you know the type. They are incessantly fiddling and fondling their Blackberry or i-Phone during a meeting you are trying to conduct. They can’t even complete a simple human conversation without glancing at their Holy Grail of bandwidth once or twice. That really pisses me off.
I am increasingly persuaded that the more we think we better communicate in the contemporary sense, the less we are actually saying and accomplishing. Literally volumes have been written, pro and con, about the short-hand LOL/BFF/OMG communication vortex we are caught up in. I tend to describe the new mindset as an exercise steeped in circling the communication drain. What I find striking is how much this phenomena transcends generational boundaries. Alas, I too sport thumbs of steel and yes, I would undoubtedly die without my unlimited data, text, voice plan.
Still this new normal sort of makes me sigh a bit now and then. It was that crazy Canadian and a hero of mine, Marshall McLuhan who probably said it best, “A typewriter is a means of transcribing thought, not expressing it.” I suffer under no illusion in thinking I can add a single important thought to this already tiresome topic, nor do I really want to. To be bone-honest and fair, I understand the fascination with “busy” and do appreciate having all the cool tools to make the new “busy” streamlined so we can all have more of it on demand. Hells bells, I live on the bleeding edge of technology. That said, I have also determined that I will occasionally come to a full stop, think about old Bill Ring and consider whether or not I am too busy to go fishin’…