Sunday, November 21, 2010

I'm Not Much of a Phone Person

"Back in MY day, we just YELLED really loud."


I have a confession to make. I don't like talking on the phone all that much. That's right. I'll give those of you that just fell out of your chairs in astonishment a second to regroup. Back? Ok.

Despite that picture up there that suggests otherwise, I'm not against phones. I do recognize phones are a complete necessity. Sometimes I think back to early high school before everyone had cell phones and wonder “how the hell did we all survive?” I suppose it wasn’t too difficult. It just meant we had to exercise a bit more forethought when planning the evening’s activities, and it meant being stranded for longer periods of time if our cars ever broke down. But that’s neither here nor there. 


Haha, why did I waste my time making this?

Perhaps you assume I appreciate the necessity of cell phones but still wished I didn't need one? No! Of course I like having a phone! For a couple of months last fall I couldn’t pay my cell phone bill. (Incidentally, bills don’t just disappear when you ignore them like I hoped.)  

Haha! This makes the bad things go away!

I had no cell service, and it was tricky. Get home and want to know what friends are up to? TOUGH SHIT. Need to put a contact number down while looking for a new job? HOPEFULLY THEY DON’T ACTUALLY TRY TO USE IT.  Bullets suddenly riddling your house and you need to call the police? FUCK YOU.  

So at this point I’ve lingered unnecessarily long on the point that yes, I need a phone as much as anybody, I just don’t always like talking on it. Here’s why:


That Delay that Can Lead to Conversational Overlap
Usually we unconsciously accommodate the half second delay or so that accompanies all cell phone conversations, but sometimes it just fucks everything up. I'm sure it's happened to you. The conversation is a steady back and forth, the way it should be, but then combine the delay because your voice is WEEEE bouncing off satellites, with someone sounding like they were finished talking when they fucking weren't, and the conversation spirals into endless simultaneous interruptions. This often happens when trying to close the call.

Infinity

Maybe the two of you are feeling super fucking smart that day and you realize what's happening, so you pause to let the other person say bye. Guess what? SO DO THEY! 

SON OF A BITCH

Hope you like prolonged silence! Eventually one of you hangs up in frustration.

You Can't See the Person's Face
Yeah yeah, pretty soon everyone's gonna have face chat on their phone and this complaint will be obsolete, but in the meantime...I’m sure a lot of you have heard of that study that concluded 55% of a speaker's intention is derived from body language, while the remaining amount is 38% from tone of voice, and 7% from words. If that study is to be believed, it means someone like me that depends so heavily on interpretive dance during conversation is out of luck on the phone. 


"Good morning."

And what about the other person? How do I know they aren’t making faces at me? There’s just too much unknown when such a major part of the conversation is missing.

A Text Message Usually Does the Trick
Most of the time when I need to relay information, a text or quick email sums up everything I need to say. Obviously if I've got a series of complicated questions or want to catch up with someone over the phone I'll call, but if all I need to say is "be there soon!" I don't need to bother calling. We've probably all made that mistake of calling somebody up and almost immediately realizing we've run out of things to talk about.

Hey!

Hey what's up?

Just calling to tell you I saw that movie you told me about, and it was great!

Oh nice, glad you liked it!

Yeah, that one part you mentioned especially!

Yup, good stuff.

Yeah.



....




So what's up?

Which leads right into my next point.


There's No Pressure for Constant Chatter Face to Face
On the phone, you’re blah blah blahing away, and no matter what, you’ve got about 3 seconds tops before a normal conversational pause turns into an awkward pause. Now, suppose you’re actually there with someone and you both stop to contemplate how profound your last statement was. Just sitting there silently while in person is ok! Maybe the TV is on too! Fuck it, take a break! You’ve earned it. The conversational frequency can effortlessly drift up and down without a second thought. 

Kind of like this metaphor.

Whereas on the phone if you stop talking for a little while the other person might think you’re dead.

And finally...

Suppose You're in a Heated Argument on the Phone. If You Hang Up Still Fuming, You Will Definitely Feel Like Throwing Something and Oh Look You're Already Holding Your Phone. Might As Well Right? Go Ahead and Be Shortsighted. What's the Worst that Could Happen? Oh God Dammit Look What You've Done, Hundreds of Dollars Down the Shitter. Nice Job Fuckface.

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