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Your Technology Annoys Me
[July 26, 2005]

Your Technology Annoys Me

A recent survey by Synovate shows that poor tech etiquette among Americans is peaking, as more and more people using their tech playthings are annoying more and more people who have to deal with the irritating aforementioned.

By DAVID R. BUTCHER, Assistant Editor, Customer Interaction Solutions

As well as living in an age of technology dependence, it seems we also live in an age of verbal exaggeration. According to a new survey by global market research firm Synovate, more than one-half of Americans "can't live without access to a cell phone or e-mail." The inevitable, hypothetical question then arises: What would you do if you henceforth had to go through the rest of your daily life without your cell phone or e-mail? According to Synovate's survey: If you are like the majority of Americans, you would "die."

Please. If you really believe that, feel free to prove it.

At the same time, however, the majority of people see users display annoying behavior with their technology on at least a daily basis. And that is what Synovate's recent survey really focuses on.

Unsurprisingly, poor tech etiquette among Americans as a society is presently peaking, as more and more people using their tech playthings (you know who you are) are annoying more and more people who have to deal (i.e., me) with the irritating aforementioned. Synovate interviewed 1,000 respondents in the United States through eNation, Synovate's national online research service, to generate the results of this study. And according to the survey, 70 percent of the population polled nationally observed people using technology "in a manner disrespectful to others at least once a day."

Seventy percent? The number of times we (i.e., respectful tech users) have to deal with annoying tech use daily makes one think that that 70 percent is far disproportionate to our daily observances; meaning, the 70 percent are either completely oblivious to their own annoying habits or they know they are annoying and still find others disrespectfully using technology annoyingly. There is a name for the latter of you people: hypocrites. Simply put, the numbers here would make more sense if 60 percent of that 70 percent themselves used technology annoyingly.

When asked what piece of technology the at-threat would "die" without, 53 percent of polled Americans responded their cell phone or e-mail. According to the findings, those same technology devices are those with which Americans most regularly see the poorest etiquette. Specifically, 68 percent of the population sees the poorest etiquette with technology among cell phone users and 18 percent among e-mail users (who obviously didnt take into account spammers, as 18 percent is seemingly low).

Research specifically revealed that approximately 72 percent of Americans view the worst cell phone habit as loud conversations in public places (consider in theaters, conferences, churches, even weddings and funerals), while 65 percent of Americans view the worst e-mail habits as sending chain forwards or poor grammar (*footnote). This may partially explain, noted in a Synovate statement, why "one-third of Americans (36 percent) tolerate technology out of necessity."

Findings from a study conducted last year by Sprint revealed, in a gross understatement, that a majority of Americans say people are less courteous today when using a cellular phone than they were five years ago. Consequently, Synovate's recent results further support the theory that "uncouth" behavior with technology continues to rise.

*On this note: Although it's become common use, the proper pluralizing of "e-mail" should, in fact, be "e-mail," not "e-mails." When referring to more than one form of paper mail (e.g., personal letters, bills, etc.), you wouldn't say, "I'm putting the mails in the mailbox," would you? If so, that's also annoying.


David R. Butcher is Assistant Editor of Customer Interaction Solutions. To see more articles by David Butcher, please visit:

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