Injured Wisconsin Workers Face High Hurdles When Seeking Compensation, When Deportation Is A Death Sentence, How Ignoring Text Messages Became Normal

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While the beauty of text messaging is the possibility of an instant reply, there’s also a flip side. Our guest talks about what happens when we receive no reply, and how it’s become normalized to not respond. We also talk to one reporter about injured Wisconsin workers struggle for compensation and, we discuss other dangers those who are deported may face.

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  • How Cellphones Create A Culture Of Anxiety-Driven Communication

    Still waiting on a text from a friend? Getting anxious?

    You’re not the only one.

    Cellphones have made instant communication possible. They have also made it expected, says Naomi Baron, a professor of linguistics at American University in Washington, D.C.

    “We tend to be control freaks,” she said. “And we tend to think that if we have reached out to somebody else, of course that person wants to immediately get back to us. Even though … technology says ‘I’ll send this to you … and then you’ll get back to me when it’s good for you.’”

    This isn’t always the way it was. Changing technology has shrunk the amount of time we’re willing to wait before we get a response.

    And, as Julie Beck writes for The Atlantic, it’s also made it possible to put off responding for days, weeks weeks, even months. Some call this ghosting. And because communication can be instant, not responding for days sends a message of its own.

    “For teenagers and young adults … there’s a lot of insecurity. If I don’t respond immediately, maybe that’s sending you a message, as it were, that I don’t care about you,” Baron said. “… We have ratcheted up the expectation structure, we’ve ratcheted up the anxiety structure, and we didn’t really need to do this.”

    The first true “instant” long-distance communication was the telephone, Baron said. But it was, at first, used for the important things.

    “When telephones were first invented the assumption (was) if that telephone rang, because it was very expensive in those days, some emergency was going on and you had to pick up the phone,” Baron said.

    Voicemail, which became mainstream in the early 1980s, changed all that. It was more like a letter. Something you could put off.

    “If you didn’t want to answer a call, and it came in over dinner, it would just go to your answering machine,” Baron said.

    Email, at first invention, was similar. It could be slow, depending on the speed of your internet connection and how often you had access to a computer. Instant response wasn’t expected. Instead, people wanted response times similar to a letter, Baron said.

    Today, with the internet, there’s no strict etiquette, and as such, there’s no shared consensus with how quickly you should respond and what that response-time means. Baron said people take cues from what their friends do. So communication, especially outside social circles, can get a little muddled.

    Baron said this communication problem is also largely cultural. Eighty-three percent of Americans own cellphones, and they send more texts per day, on average, than much of the western world.

    Baron doesn’t think that’s a good thing.

    “It’s problematic. Because there’s so little that we really have to respond to immediately, because there’s some emergency,” Baron said. “We’ve turned our daily lives into emergencies.”

  • How We Communicate And Ignore Each Other Through Text

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Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Natalie Guyette Producer
  • Haleema Shah Producer
  • Alexandra Hall Guest
  • Naomi Baron Guest