By Alexis Barbin
Video assistant referee (VAR)
Did you realize ? Now when Marc sends you an email, just before you go to sleep, partying or about to share a precious and intimate moment with another person or pasta (I see you), you can actually use a (sort of) new Gmail functionality.
That functionality is actually pretty simple. Gmail lets you use a few preadjusted answers. And those are, just like I said, very simple.
“I do indeed.”
“Great, thank you!”
“Nothing much, you ?”
“I don’t know.”
“See you on Friday!”
“I am online”
“Just got home”
“THANKS A LOT” (WHY ARE YOU SCREAMING ?)
And I’ll stop here because there’s way too many uninteresting things happening here.
Do you see something special ? Yes ? No ? “Not sure”, would’ve say Google.
Those answers are actually very plain. Like, reaaaally plain. Tasteless. They are insipid. Nobody would ever use those words to actually answer emails. Seriously, who would ? Your friends would just think that you don’t give a damn about them, and your mom would not think less of you. Don’t let your mom down (seriously).
The only place those emails could be sent would be at work, when you communicate with your colleagues. I am pretty sure you could spend days using the Gmail Smart Answer system in every openspace in the world without anyone noticing it.
However, it would seem that this answering system is almost solely about positive answers. You noticed it, right ? It is nearly impossible to reply in a negative way when you use it, and even less if you like your cynical answers or just being disagreeable. There’s also quite a lot of exclamation marks at the end of these answers, perhaps with the aim of show the employee’s unnatural enthusiasm. That could seem like a trivial thing, but this could just prevent any form of rebellion in the work environment. This gave me chills.
If I’m writing about this, that’s because, before starting this year at the SCA, I was a graphic designer and employee at the SNCF. You see, SNCF is the biggest company in France, they are the monopolistic (not for long) French railway company, and they’re quite known for the rebellious spirit of their field employees. But personally, I was working in the offices. And that was quite the experience ! During a year, I had to restrain myself from saying anything that could upset my colleagues. Even if that was for the good of the company and its people and its customers. Never say something that could make a supervisor feel bad, because he or she didn’t think of it before, or even because he or she made a mistake that he or she was unable to take upon him or herself. It was all about fake positive attitudes. And that was a very difficult yet interesting year for me. I learned a lot about people and their behaviours.
And, I learned (again) that criticism is a precious thing, a thing we absolutely have to value and cherish, because one day, we might no be able to enjoy it anymore. And criticism helps us correct our mistakes, helps us learn and grow.
And I made a mistake last friday, on our reflections session, when I said that sometimes we should stop criticising things and just need to learn to understand people’s work and intentions. But I was wrong, and we need to be true to each other.
Understanding people and critiscism combined make us definitely stronger, and better, and closer to each one of our goals.