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By the Way: Calling all these questions into question


Lately I’ve had the feeling I’m being held hostage by Too Many Questions. They appear, seemingly from nowhere, on that large white rectangle that hovers above my keyboard or on the small screen of my cell phone.

I am, like so many others, a victim of the justifiably capitalized Too Many Questions, the messages that spill from myriad sources.

I can no longer contain my frustration at being on the drowning end of this rushing, unforgiving TMQ river that washes off the screen and into my day, stealing my attention and my time.

I admit, my curiosity is at fault some of the time, but over the years I have tried to rein that in.

Unsubscribing is a very satisfying practice, although some companies make that a little difficult to do.

I generally open only those messages that might really apply to my life, my family, my work.

But even then, when what I considered a work message from the office supply company I often order from online appeared on my computer, I opened it and found this:

“How do you like your 3 x 5 index cards?” it asked.

Really? I couldn’t believe it. I stared at it but it wouldn’t go away. Is my life so dull? Are my days so vacant? Am I now expected even to have an opinion about a pack of index cards, let alone share it? This bit of insanity is hard to handle.

I understand retailers have to sell and that they like feedback to help them sell even more but I’m relatively positive my requested input will have little effect on their index card sales strategy, if they even have one — and just reading the message has frustrated me and wasted a little of my time.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t solicit feedback. I just think it could be better used if they’re quality-testing on high-priced large items or have some truly legitimate reason to reach out to customers — not shove us as well as all their products into a one-size-fits-all program.

I’m annoyed also by the many politicians (no parties excepted) who use text messages, telephone calls and emails to get their messages across as they beg us for financial assistance, a transaction that will pay for more of those communications or for televised commercials so vicious as to be laughable.

Each morning, I open my email only to find so many messages that should have wound up in my spam folder.

Then I have to spend precious minutes deleting them — unread. I suspect I am not the only person doing that — or the only one who resents the lost time.

And what about the endless surveys that cause my landline phone to ring even though we are listed as Do Not Call by both state and nation? They have lost me. I no longer do surveys.

How about the barrage of reminder messages from doctors and dentist offices and/or hairdressers? You make an appointment when you leave. The receptionist hands you a reminder card. You get home only to find an e-mail reminder about the appointment still several months away.

A few days before the appointment you get another e-mail and/or a text and two phone calls, one to your landline, if you have one, and another to your cell phone.

“Will you confirm?” they ask.

Is that not overkill? It’s like they’re saying, “Okay, I’ve got their contact information, I’d better use it.” It’s also maddening.

I, for one, could go for a bit of fine-tuning on the questions clogging my digital devices as well as my brain. It’s almost like one of those giant menus at a restaurant that offers so many choices they make your head spin as you struggle to make a decision.

If all this is bad now, what surprises will artificial intelligence bring? The thought alone is frightening.

Kathryn Finegan Clark is a freelance writer who lives in Durham Township. She can be reached at

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