Contemplating Friday: Communication 101

It’s Friday. You made plans with a friend for the evening. You realize you didn’t confirm place or time, and you want to get in touch.

Phone? Text? IM? Email? Suddenly you’re flummoxed. There’s a perfect communication medium for this situation, but which is it? You search your wallet for a clue, but the only instruction card you find lists the fish that won’t go extinct if you eat them.

Here’s the card you’re looking for (please clip, fold and take with you):

Phone: Good luck. No one answers these days. Etiquette requires quaint introductions like “Hello, this is (your name here.)” and niceties like “How are you?”

GOOD: If you have all the time in the world, or you’re calling your grandmother.

AVOID: All other times.

Email: Perfect if a paper trail is needed. Otherwise beware the email torrent you compete with here. Don’t be hurt if you don’t receive an answer. You have been triaged out of sheer desperation, or relegated to a “Read Later” cyber-pile and forgotten.

GOOD: Interactions with boss who is harassing you, business transactions, spam.

AVOID: Arterial bleeding, and other urgent situations.

Texts: The inherent brevity makes this the most efficient form of communication. Also great for stealth situations.

GOOD: If you know the person is in a meeting, if you know the person is with her other boyfriend, and OMG Gr8t if ur under 20 yrs old.

AVOID: Using to break up with someone.

Instant Messaging: Great place to convey quick message, link, and/or snark. Fast-paced, no verbal tics such as “you know” or “like.” Also, you can disappear for a few minutes to eat lunch and blame it on a delivery.

GOOD: If you want to fool others into thinking you are working in front of a computer (including yourself.)

AVOID: If are over 35. Seriously, don’t even try.

Skype: What teleconferencing was supposed to be until we realized we want to work at home in our PJs with unbrushed hair.

GOOD: If you like looking at yourself all the time when you speak.

AVOID: If you don’t like other people looking at themselves while you speak.

Smoke Signals: May be of use in case of solar flare that brings down infrastructure.

GOOD: If you are a Vatican cardinal electing a pope.

AVOID: In dry brush.

Caroline Paul is the author of “East Wind, Rain” and “Fighting Fire.” Her latest book is “The Lost Cat,” an illustrated collaboration with Wendy MacNaughton. Find out more at and

Caroline Paul and Wendy MacNaughton
Caroline Paul is the author of "East Wind, Rain" and "Fighting Fire," and she co-wrote "Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology" with her partner Wendy MacNaughton. MacNaughton's illustrations have appeared in The New York Times, Juxtapoz, and Print Magazine. "Lost Cat" was inspired by the curious disappearances of their beloved Tibia.
Caroline Paul and Wendy MacNaughton
Tags: Downtime,Tech Culture
  • Roger C. Parker

    Great fusion of fun idea, strong writing, and a great graphic! The colors and lettering are right on target.

  • Ahmed Tariq


    • Fayaz

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    Oh my gοodness! Amazing artіclе dude!

    Many thаnks, Howеѵer I am enсountering troublеs with your RSЅ.
    I ԁon’t know why I am unable to subscribe to it. Is there anybody having similar RSS issues? Anybody who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanks!!

    • Nicole_Smith

      Hi, if you can describe the problem you’re having in a little more detail. We can help resolve it. Thanks

    • Juan

      Brad, this is completely ireerlvant, but is there an online album out there of med/hi-res photos of the Sioux? I’m looking for photos like the ones posted around the Ralph, cool, unique, or older. I tweeted at Jayson Hajdu posing a similar question, but he did not respond.

  • Alex

    Can this be a poster?

    • Stephanie

      If you’d like a poster of this art, please get in touch with the artist directly via her web site:

    • Amik

      Is it sad that I immediately looekd up what Craig Bohl makes to make sure Hak makes for than Bohl does? In case anyone was wondering, Hak makes 100k more than Bohl does.

  • Susan

    This is great. But… what about Twitter?

    • Nicole_Smith

      I think that depends on whether “Sean Cassidy” rings any bells, if it’s a shocker or you want it to appear work-related.

      • Lakiesha

        That’s an exrpet answer to an interesting question

  • Kathreen

    Lot of smarts in that posintg!

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