I was fortunate enough to grow up in the sweet spot of technology. I'm young enough to have a firm grasp on computers, cell phones, Twitter and the like. But I'm old enough to remember life before the Internet. So I'm capable of working my iPhone, and I'm not afraid of answering it. But it seems evident that younger people are becoming extremely averse to talking on the phone. They'll text, email, Facebook message and Twitter DM, but they won't call. Is America making a big mistake by phasing the phone call out of our lives? A new article from Salon.com ponders this question:
At a time when devices keep us at arms’ length, phone calls rocket the voice straight into the ear. It’s a revealing way to communicate. “The telephone conversation is one that really exposes nuances of meaning,” says Edward Tenner, a visiting scholar in the Rutgers School of Communication and Information, who is also the author of “Our Own Devices.” “So much of language is not just the words as they might appear but the inflection or accent, the deciphering of sarcasm.” Tenner and I spoke by phone, naturally, where the land line he used was nearly decadent in its clarity. I felt, at times, like he was in the room with me. “People have become much more guarded about their public persona,” he continued. “They will manage it on social media and dating sites. They will present carefully tailored pictures. When they’re in an actual conversation, there’s more revelation than they’re comfortable with.”
I think what some view as a fear of communication is actually more like a sign of respect. People are busier than ever, and texting and emailing is more convenient because it allows you to respond back on your schedule. You don't have to pause your life in order to take a call that's probably not important anyways. And Facebook has destroyed the idea of "catching up" on the phone, because no one is ever behind on their friends' lives any more. So we've adapted to the times. People used to send smoke signals, then they sent messages on horseback, then they used a telegraph, and then a telephone. And now we text. It's evolution. But for those who enjoy talking on the phone, don't worry. The phone call will never go away completely. It might go absent for awhile, but it will always be there, saying hello when you least expect it. At first you'll be upset at the sporadic nature of phone calls, but after awhile, you'll realize that life is a lot better when you suppress them as much as possible. Yes, phone calls are a lot like genital herpes.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @thefaketomz
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