Of late, I’ve taken on yet another new assignment.
I’m “chat coaching,” a steep-learning-curve experience I assure you.
Should you be unfamiliar with chat coaching, I shall explain. I log into a website from my home computer, which is connected to a main server in cyberspace. On the other side of the void, should someone need guidance, they click on a button on their screen and their “call” is routed to me on my computer. He or she types. I reply via the same method. If you were asking, “Wouldn’t it be easier with a phone?” The answer is probably “yes.” However, that’s not how it works and I’ve agreed to the terms. To be honest, I’m actually growing to enjoy the procedure – short of the carpal tunnel issues for which I must be on guard.
In effect, this type of communication can be best analogized as a very slow moving conversation, especially since the policies require appropriate grammar, correct spelling, and avoiding emoticons and abbreviations (like “BTW” or “LOL”). The repercussions of having such time in between transactions allow one’s thoughts to drift, which lends itself to me making judgments — fair or otherwise — about who is on the other end, based entirely on how long it takes for a reply and what shows up when it happens.
With that as backstory, today someone logged in and began the conversation with the most ridiculously moronic questions.
“Really?” I thought, “Are you serious?”
Her query was so “beyond the pale,” that I first assumed I had snared a “troll.” (No, not the long-haired, full-bellied, naked toys of the seventies. Rather these are nasty individuals who enjoy annoying, frustrating, or insulting other people in cyberspace, merely because they can get away with it.)
Yet, with the passage of a few paragraphs of correspondence, I understood that the young woman on the other end wasn’t trolling, but was instead severely developmentally disabled. Obviously, her skill set allowed use of the system but her text was burdened with so many typos, it was near impossible to untangle, and the speed at which she replied would make a beginning typist feel like a thirty-year executive secretary. But most importantly, she couldn’t grasp even the simplest concepts.