I'm No Phone-y

If we're gonna be friends, there's something you've got to understand.

I probably won't call you. Like, ever. And I need you to be okay with that, and not be all like ...


Please don't take it personally. For real.

I'll text you until my thumbs are sore and callused (or maybe huge and muscular?). I'll email you every day. I'll comment on your Instagrams and post on your Facebook wall. I'll hand-write you a letter ... send you a message via carrier pigeon ... hire a skywriter to puff out a message in the clouds (okay, not really, because I can't even afford to shop at higher-end department stores). My point is: I'll communicate with you in many ways. The phone just won't be one of them.

As a typical preteen/teenage girl, I logged hours of my life making prank calls yapping away to my friends (although I did it on a corded, see-through phone in my bedroom because hello! ... the nineties were just that awesome). I even did odd jobs to fund the steep $10 monthly fee for my very own phone line - with three way calling.

OMG the memories. This exact phone is actually for sale on Etsy!

But then came the magic of alternate means of communication. And though the phone and I made some good memories together, I had to move on. It's nothing against the phone OR the person on the other end of it. It's just that the introverted part of me vastly prefers other means.

Let me explain.

It's intrusive. I wouldn't just show up at your house unannounced. I wouldn't walk up to a circle of people talking and butt into their conversation. I feel the same way about ringing you up out of the blue; a call is a disruption. You have no idea whether the person you're calling has the time or the desire to talk, so it's kind of a gamble. With a phone call, you're basically forcing the person to talk to you whether they want to or not, like, "I don't care if you're putting your kids to bed/trying to dye your hair/catching up on 'Teen Mom.' I want to talk and I want to talk now." And if they don't answer, you've got a pretty good idea of whether they legitimately missed your call or if they're ignoring it. With a text, at least you can convincingly pretend you didn't hear it (because half the time, you really don't). It saves a little bit of that "were you avoiding me?" awkwardness.

It's hard to control. When you're the caller, you have a little bit of control over how long the conversation is. But when you're the call-ee, etiquette dictates that you wait for the person who called to determine when the conversation is over. Which means that even if you're not really in the mood for a long chat, you risk having to have one. And if you must cut the conversation short, you feel like a jerk for interrupting it.

It's pretty much unnecessary. If you wanna find out how - or what - just about anyone is doing these days, it's just a click away. I can know what my high school classmate had for dinner last night just by opening up my Instagram app. I can scroll through someone's news feed and learn about their new promotion and what political issues are bothering them and how their Monday sucked because they spilled Starbucks all over their front seat. Or I can text. Or I can email. There are only, like, two people that I know who don't have some sort of electronic communication these days ... and I'm probably not talking to them.

It's awkward. Being witty and being quick-witted are two different things. I can give you a funny answer to something, absolutely, but it takes me a minute - or ten - to come up with it (this is why I'm a writer and not an improv comedian). It's the same with opinions: I like to form one, carefully weighing the pros and cons, before I speak. But on the phone, you're expected to deliver an instant answer, an instant comeback, keep the verbal ping-pong going with no awkward-and-potentially-misunderstood pauses. Which is difficult for someone who likes to think things through before responding. With other means of communication, there's a lot less risk of accidentally sounding like a dumb-dumb ... or worse, an asshole.

I have kids. You call because you want to talk to someone, right? You want to hear their voice, have a nice uninterrupted chat? Well you're barking up the wrong tree if you're calling someone with kids. Because the conversation will be peppered with things like, "Leave your brother alone!" and "I said no!" and punctuated with apologies for the interruptions. Kids have a knack for interpreting a parent being on the phone as a perfect time to a.) ask questions or b.) try to take advantage of the distraction. Either way, it's not pretty - whether you're the harried mom trying to listen politely while simultaneously keeping her household in check, or the person on the other end whose every third sentence is being cut off.

So unless you want our important conversation to be abruptly ended by, "Sorry, gotta go, someone's bleeding," I suggest you contact me in another way.

Because for that reason - and so many more - the phone and I are better off as old, distant friends.


11 comments:

  1. Yes, yes, a thousand times YES! I am so not a phone person and feel that texting was invented especially for introverts.

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  2. Um yes! I think you and I could be good friends. No need to actually speak :)

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  3. You've summed up my feeling on phoning completely!

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  4. This is ridiculous! This is the reason our children will end up like idiots with no verbal communication skillsand poor personal interaction skills. Put down your electronic media, pay attention to people, cherish relationships, and get live life. Pay attention to your kids and try to teach them manners and about respect and not to interrupt when someone else is talking.

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  5. Way to be Anonymous. How very Anonymous of you.... And OBVIOUSLY you have no children. Because kids interrupt. No matter how well behaved they are.

    Anyway, I digress.
    I agree to some extent. I prefer to text or email. However, I am a sassy, sarcastic person. This does not translate well to text. It comes across as bitchy (which really is only 5% of the times is truly bitchy...) and in person it comes across as intended. So, I've offended people in my texts unknowingly. I prefer to call on occasion. But I promise you, the call will only last all of 5 minutes. And I hang up before you even have a chance to finish your "goodbye". Oops! LOL

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  6. Haha! I am the exact opposite. I love a phone call, and don't really care for all of the others. Except political surveys. Those just bug.

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  7. I'm not a fan of calling people either. It's just not my thing. Sometimes I even forget to text. If we're Facebook friends, I figure you're up to date with my life anyway. This has confused past friends. They're like, "What? Why didn't you text me?" when they see some statuses. Oops.

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  8. Right there with you! I actually wrote about this on my blog last year and got so many people commenting that they feel exactly the same way!

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  9. must use this space to apolojize (taughtbyphonics) to my sister whom I called and just wanted to "chat". Thank you.

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  10. Ok, u from 90s, me from 80s. I know it doesn't seem 2 b a big gap, but the phone was our lifeline! Most families had 2 phones....1 always n the kitchen, the other usually mom & dad's room (which we were forbidden 2 use). My,sister & I r less than 2 yrs apart, so u know that means more trouble. AND the biggest taboo was calling a boy! My mother's rule. Looking back I do wish we had the connections we have now., but I literally spent hours on the phone or passing a "notebook" between classes w/my 2 BFFs. So, now a days I text tons, FB too. But when I want 2 marathon talk (@ least once a week w/that friend from phone notebook days, I text & tell her 2 call when she can...which translates 2 no hubby & least amount of kids!

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  11. Hey, I had that phone! Great post. I loathe talking on the phone. I would rather have bamboo shoved under my fingernails.

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