Although I must admit that I no longer use #2 pencils, I am still greatly addicted to using that ancient device called a phone.
If you’re not sure what that is, it has a keyboard that looks a lot like a 10 key pad, but the number 1 is in the upper left hand corner of the 12 key array instead of the lower left hand corner (where it should be), like on an adding machine. (If anyone knows why it’s reversed, please write to me. I’m dying to know.) Some of you may be so old (like me) to also know phones that had rotary dials. (This is where the phrase “dial him up” comes from.)
In today’s world the phone most people use is portable and it is called a cell phone. When it is a “smart phone,” (which almost all of them are these days) this amazing device not only makes phone calls, but it has email and “apps” that appear to me to be the primary use people make of their device. They even have cameras that are pretty amazing, but I digress.
What I find is happening is that people today believe they are communicating more, but are actually communicating less. And, in many very important ways.
While I am a big fan of email, and I send and receive close to 100 per day, it is no substitute for picking up the phone and having an EXCHANGE with another human being. What is missing from the new forms of communication is the instantaneous HUMAN exchange where two people share their thoughts interactively and with easily detected feelings. Perhaps texting, in a sense, can perform some of the back and forth exchanging of information common in a telephone call, but there is no real voice where you can pick up tonality.
Speech, I am often heard to say, is the slowest form of communication. (For the record, smoke signals are slower, but no one uses them anymore.) Please don’t get me wrong, every form of communication has its purpose and place in our fast moving society.
What I would argue is that we are all falling into the trap of using the WRONG form of communication most of the time.
If you are trapped in a meeting and a phone call comes through, I can understand why you might resort to a text to let the other person know you can’t immediately respond. What I have noticed, however, is that some people will only write to you when you call.
Call me silly, but I like the human interaction in a real phone call because I always learn more than if I just exchange an email or text. The pregnant pause, the sound of tension or happiness in a voice is to my mind worth the extra time that a live phone call requires.
One of the many things that amazes me these days is the number of people who don’t return phone calls, at all. While I’m certainly not secretive about why I am calling, it only takes a few minutes to show the courtesy of a returned call. And, who knows, you might actually connect with “Santa Claus” and make a lot of money by probing the person who went to great efforts to connect with you by picking up the phone.
We live in an amazing time. I wouldn’t trade it for a million dollars. (Okay, maybe I would for two million dollars.) But, like the hand written thank you note, some things are worth hanging on to.
Do call me some time. I would enjoy hearing from you.