Yesterday, I did a phone interview via skype for a book podcast. Let's talk about the technology behind that for a second.
A tiny magnet connected to vibration sensitive membrane takes my voice and converts it into an electric signal. This signal travels down cat5 cables to my modem. There it is converted into another electric signal and sent down metal cables for miles. Then it's converted into light and sent through hundreds of miles of glass threads. My voice then gets converted back into electric signals and makes its way to the other computer where another magnet, connected to a cone and another membrane, spits out my voice as sound once more...only slightly more nasal and weird.
If one of us uses satellite for our internet provider, then in the middle of that my voice is converted into invisible waves that travel into space. SPACE! My voice is an astronaut for a fraction of a second. How cool is this technology?
Despite how cool I think it is...it does not agree with me and my visual brain.
A while back I met with a book club at a high school. I was super nervous and even more sweaty, but I managed to talk intelligibly for almost an hour about my book, publishing, and writing. But, stick me in a room by myself and have me talk to my computer like it's a person and I devolve into a stuttering idiot.
At the book club:
I have the same problem with other audible technology. I am horrible on the phone and I apologize to anyone who has had to talk to me on the phone. My brain doesn't think the conversation is real and I end up sounding disinterested, clipped, and awkward. If something more real is going on, like driving, tv, or another live person in front of me, I'm even worse.
I avoid drive thrus for this reason too. They frustrate me. I want to look people in the eye and order my food or deposit my check. There is something lost when they can't see me either.
Inside, a cashier can see the look of bewilderment in my face as I contemplate the menu and give me more time to think.
Outside, I am berated.
Where would I have gone?
Inside, I can be clear and see understanding in the cashier's eyes.
Outside, I am yelling at some electronic billboard that has someone elses' order on it.
And I end up with onions, fries, a diet soda I didn't want, and a vanilla shake.
Luckily, when it comes to the interview, they are letting me rerecord it today. Here's hoping I can manage not to sound like a moron.