Communication Confusion Reigns On Summer Travels : All Tech Considered It's a modern quandry: How do I get in touch with my friends? Some like a call, others a text, others want you to use this email, but not that one. Some just live on Facebook? Landline? What's that? And everyone expects you to know what their preference is.
NPR logo Communication Confusion Reigns On Summer Travels

Communication Confusion Reigns On Summer Travels

Some people do know how to broadcast their communication method of choice. Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

Some people do know how to broadcast their communication method of choice.

Carl de Souza/AFP/Getty Images

My wife and I traveled to numerous cities this summer, giving us the chance to catch up with friends scattered all over.

At least, that was the theory. What actually happened was that it turned out to be just as difficult getting in touch with people when we were in their towns as it is when we're at home.

I'd shoot someone an email and get a text in return. I'd try texting the next person and get a message back via Facebook.

What we needed was an app to tell us what kind of apps each of our friends uses to communicate.

It was never clear which type of communication tool an individual would check regularly, and which ones would prompt angry notes back a week later saying "I never check email."

We knew better than to leave voicemail messages. No one bothers with that any more, even though it's probably a good bet at this point that Rupert Murdoch won't be listening in.

The ways I use to reach out and touch someone are fairly limited. I'm going show my age and say that even if President Obama thinks checking in on foursquare is worth his time, I don't think it's worth mine.

No one yet wants to encircle me on Google+. I don't even know what Plaxo does. Is that the stuff you rinse your teeth with, or the football player who shot himself in the leg?

Yet even a late adopter to new forms of social media like me can't figure out which option to use to reach my fellow fuddy-duddies. It's like an endless multiple-choice quiz.

Communication devices have always opened up new opportunities for ignoring friends and avoiding family members. How many answering machine messages do you remember getting that shouted, "C'mon, pick up! I know you're there."

If you know so much, how come you don't have the self-esteem not to beg?

Nowadays, kids, it's much worse. It's not just that it's easier to screen people out by ignoring email and tweets than a ringing phone. The average person doesn't know what type of message is likely to punch through and garner the attention of people who actually do want to communicate with him, if only they had some inkling he had tried.

I think an app that not only stores all the thousands of kinds of contact information for your pals, but reminds you which number or address or sign-in they actually use, would be a huge help.

If only I could figure out how to spread the word about it to my friends.