Friday, September 26

I'm So Not A Phone Person

For many of you, this pretty much goes without saying. For the rest of you who have managed to avoid the travesty that is a phone call with me, they typically go something like this:

phone rings
Me: Hey man!
Them: Hi! How are you...?
Me: Okay thanks! What's up with you?
Them: Yeh, you know how it is...
Me: Ah yes. Pause. So, uh, what can I do for you?
Them: Uh. Oh right. Yeh, do you know when/what/how...?
Me: Yeh sure: You do this and that, then.
Them: Oh thanks! Big help! So..
Me: Anytime! Bye!

Done. Functional and to the point, and the majority of my phone conversations don't last more than a minute (resulting in bills which look something like this, except worse since I now have three times as many inclusive minutes). In some cases the person calling me doesn't even have a reason, but instead of being flattered this confuses the hell out of me as I quickly formulate a schedule of things to actually talk about over the next 5, 10, or heavens forbid 15 minutes.

Although I realise that it's me that's weird, that won't stop me from stating objective reasons as to why using the phone is generally a poor form of communication.

For a start, it's inefficient. There are few other things a person can do while talking on the phone - just check out the many nutters who try to drive while they "connect" (even when they're on their flashy bluetooth headsets). Okay, this could just be another failing of being a bloke (my mum at least can whip up a good dinner while on the phone), but generally it takes more attention than just being able to talk is worth. Stick to email or text - you can easily multitask with those.

It's also physically unnatural and dangerous. Although we have handsfree now, plenty of people have had neck and shoulder trouble as they struggle to fit in with the handset-to-ear form a phone forces upon you. Oh, and don't get me started on the radiation.

As a form of communication it sucks. You can't gesticulate for instance, something I seem to really need to do (the excess energy gets spent pacing up and down the room instead). Facial expressions are also lost, while conversational cues are missed and awkward silences are much more awkward on the phone.

Face to face, you can enjoy these silences by just being in the company of the person you're with. It also allows you to talk and interact in groups, in a way a phone will never handle. And with emails and texts, you can actually think, consider what you're saying and generally avoid making a knob out of yourself.

I dunno. From what I gather from friends, phone calls mainly consist of gossip and talking about other people, and although I'm no saint when it comes to these things perhaps that's why I struggle to keep a phone conversation going?

That said, I am trying to change and have been on the phone for extended periods of time recently. And my tradition of calling friends on their birthdays and the two Eids is well established now - I'd easily choose to use the phone, albeit just as clumsily, for these things over anything else (apart from visiting in person which can be impractical). So there is a use for the phone after all.

Finally there has been cases when I would be on the phone for a long time - my record for a single call currently stands at somewhere over six hours which puts even the most gossipy of aunties to shame. So maybe I'm actually wrong about the whole thing and it all just depends on the person I'm actually talking to more than anything else?

Originally drafted 20th August 2007

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