Wednesday, March 23, 2011

No one uses the phone anymore

I have to wonder if this is a result of enforced socialization in our school systems…

They text, they email, they IM, but increasingly the phone call is too intrusive of a communication option for many.

"I literally never use the phone," Jonathan Adler, the interior designer, told me. (Alas, by phone, but it had to be.) "Sometimes I call my mother on the way to work because she'll be happy to chitty chat. But I just can't think of anyone else who'd want to talk to me." Then again, he doesn't want to be called, either. "I've learned not to press 'ignore' on my cellphone because then people know that you're there."

"I remember when I was growing up, the rule was, 'Don't call anyone after 10 p.m.,'" Mr. Adler said. "Now the rule is, 'Don't call anyone. Ever.'"

As a long-time hater of the phone call, this is good news.

Kids who want to be left alone are considered outsiders and suspected of being potential Columbine kids. What worries me is the increased risk of miscommunication due to the lack of personal contact. As a society we don’t seem to understand the desire for alone time.

Face-to-face communication transmits both verbal and non-verbal clues as to an individual’s message. A facial expression and body language can convey more information about the speaker’s mood and intent.

Voice communication over a telephone fails to transmit the non-verbal clues, but the tone of voice may still provide additional information.

Impersonal text messages and emails carry none of the non-verbal clues unless the writer is one of those people who use all upper case letters to SHOUT THEIR MESSAGE!!!!

One final thought is the move to ignore phone calls a growing response to the expectation that we be available 24-7. In a period of about 135 years we have developed a unspoken social response to a ringing telephone that it must be answered. This social response is now more than ever exploited by for-profit and non-profit organizations seeking to sell or collect money by the former and raise funds by the latter.

We are placed in a position of fighting an ingrained social response to answer the ringing telephone and are now rebelling and saying “No more, this is my time and you will not invade it.”

No one uses the phone anymore

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