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Thursday, September 12, 2013

My telephone proves nearly everyone is a cynic


Selwyn Duke has an article called: The Babe and the Cynic. It's an interesting read but in this writer's opinion it falls a little too precipitously into the trap of a false dichotomy. Selwyn Duke would convince the world that being a cynic is as foolish as ... well being a fool. His argument is that trusting no one is as foolish as trusting everyone. In that regard he's somewhat correct but this argument lacks sophistication. No one—not even the proverbial eighteen-year-old-victim of an accidental cabbage-truck ejection—trusts everyone. Likewise even the most steadfast Ebenezer Scrooge variety cynic will at some point trust someone.

Whether in personal relationships, or public relationships, the world loves to present us with these false choices. Coke or Pepsi, if you will. Think about the old adage trust but verify. Most think this simple wisdom. Trust people, but check their story. Trust but verify is—at best—merely a non sequitur. Obviously if you do trust them you won't need to verify, while if you don't trust them you will need to verify. And again what about earning trust? People earn trust by being honest, by telling the truth and dealing fairly. If trust must be earned then we begin without any.

Think about a phone ringing. It's your phone and it represents a responsibility, a duty yet unanswered. Who is it? What do they want? Questions asked before you ever pick up the phone. Caller ID often answers these questions before you leap into the dark by picking up that call. A 1-800 or 1-866 usually means you don't know this person. A stranger calling your home means they want money from you. Now is that a cynical thing to say, or merely the honest truth? When was the last time a stranger called you to just talk? "Hi, this is Jack. What's your name? Didja catch the game last night? Etc." Not gonna happen. Ever.

So the phone is ringing and you don't recognize the number on your caller ID, moreover it's not a local number. If you answer the call you fall more towards the naive end of the spectrum and if you don't you fall more towards the cynical end. Even here there is further variation. On one day in a good mood you might pick-up the call, while on a hectic or stressful day you wouldn't.

Now you pick up the phone and the person hastens to let you know that this isn't a sales call. Stop. Why did this person feel the need to inform you what the call isn't about? Because he knows that this is what everyone assumes when a stranger calls. We all start by assuming that they want our money. Okay, so they say they don't want our money, but they called so they must want something! The next thing down the list is time. Is this a survey? Unfortunately time is money. Suppose you have a nine-to-five job. You're not at work; you're at home relaxing with the family. Maybe you're trying to watch a show on television. Maybe you're helping the kids with homework. Maybe you're reading a book or sleeping. You're boss knows that your time is worth his money, that's why he pays you. How much is the survey caller going to pay you for your valuable and limited time? Keep in mind that since your boss already has you for forty hours, your personal time is worth time-and-a-half. At the end of your life, as you breathe out those last few breaths, what would you give for those fifteen wasted minutes?

On the subject of wasting time, the following site is more fun than answering a fifteen minute survey from a complete stranger. I promise. Trust me.
"A biologist, a chemist, and a statistician are out hunting. The biologist shoots at a deer and misses 5ft to the left, the chemist takes a shot and misses 5ft to the right, and the statistician yells, ‘We got ‘im!’ ”

Why it’s funny: Because it’s mean.

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