By Kelsi Peace, Features Editor
I discovered in my Sociology class Thursday that Radio Shack has taken to laying off their employees via e-mail. According to an article in USA Today, Radio Shack headquarters in Fort Worth e-mailed about 400 employees to dismiss them, using what is obviously a mass-produced (and insulting) message: “The workforce reduction notification is currently in progress. Unfortunately your position is one that has been eliminated.”
The article said Radio Shack did notify their employees ahead of time about the electronic layoffs and allowed them to ask questions; however, questions were also submitted electronically.
While this is inarguably the most cost and time-efficient method for lay-offs, at some point one has to wonder when a little common courtesy overrides the need for efficiency. The few minutes it takes per employee to lay him or her off is certainly worth the cost and time it takes to communicate that he or she is respected enough to be addressed face-to-face. A cold mass e-mail shamelessly dehumanizes the employee and reeks of tackiness.
An article by Katie Fretland that appeared in USA Today reported Katy Tanner, an employee at a body-piercing parlor in Cardiff, Wales, was fired via text message.
Her employer’s excuse: couldn’t reach Fretland by phone.
The temptation to abuse texts and e-mails to escape responsibility is prevalent outside the professional arena as well.
While browsing through text-messaging-related articles online, I found examples of engagements, long-term relationships and dates that were all called off through text messages.
Aside from the fact this is reminiscent of a junior high note, a text message essentially slaps its receiver in the face, saying, “You do not merit the courtesy of a personal conversation.” This allows the sender to slink off with no personal discomfort or inconvenience, creating a whole new level of cowardly break ups.
Yes, we are a busy society, but I argue that sometimes, our readiness to e-mail, text or instant message is not done in an effort to conserve a few precious extra moments but to save ourselves discomfort. And that is cold.
I think we are abusing technology and allowing ourselves to find acceptable a practice is both impersonal and cowardly; in fact, it suggest we are giving ourselves permission to practice sloppy social skills and avoid those situations in which we are most uncomfortable.
I’m not interested in hearing tired excuses about the crushing demands on everyone’s time, the wonderful advantages technology has to offer or that this is obviously the direction society is moving toward. Those excuses are ridiculous.
When we become so impersonal and non-confrontational that we can justify taking such an easy road out, we have taken these conveniences too far.
So let’s make a deal: offer people the courtesy of face-to-face interaction when their lives are affected, and save the e-mails and texts for lesser issues.