Goodbye, Telephone

Hello Art

Seriously, when was the last time you heard that word? Assuming people actually do answer the phone when you call, they are more likely to say something like “Hey, Susan!” or “Whassup, Joe?” They already know who’s calling, thanks to caller ID and other features on our fabulous phones.

In fact, the telephone feature likely is used the least. Apparently I’m among the remaining few who actually talk on my smartphone. If the first cell phones had all the abilities of today’s models, they likely wouldn’t have been called phones at all. For example, here’s how I get to talk to my son: text “call your mom.” Can’t blame it only on younger generations, though. It seems nobody calls anymore.

Dont answer phone. jpg

Ha Ha! My phone just rang. But political robocalls don’t count.

Admittedly, I rarely answer unknown calls, either. I used to answer calls with a local area code, until getting burned too many times by telemarketers—the majority of calls I still get on my land line. Yes, land line. (What if there’s a hurricane and power goes out, or I lose my cell phone … plus I just hear better on it.)

It’s not only unknown callers who get ignored. Many people let all their calls go to voicemail to review later—or not. Some of them even listen to the messages. I’ve come to know those who rarely do (hello, boyfriend, grandson, former boss … ) so I hang up after a ring or two. They usually call back when they see I’ve phoned. My call-back theory had long been “if it’s important they’ll leave a message.” Not anymore if I recognize the caller. Missed call means call me.

Makes me marvel how I managed to meet newspaper story deadlines way back before voicemail when all we had was basic telephones. People answered them, that’s how. Now that I am retired and write on a freelance basis, it’s a different ballgame.

Don’t ever call, a friend my age who is still in the workforce advised the other day when I was whining about it taking me longer to connect with sources than to interview them and write the stories. Writers in her office know better, she said. You have to email or text to get a reply.

Well, yeah, I’ve learned that by now. But I’m still old school enough to often reach out by phone to make that personal connection, then follow up with an email or text. Guess I’ve been wasting my time.

A little web searching on the subject is making me feel a lot selfish. And rather pushy. Overwhelmingly, bloggers and other writers, largely millennials, are saying their time is more important than my calls. Their consensus: why should I stop in the middle of my project or whatever I am doing to talk to you? Communication is much more efficient by email or text, to deal with on my time. And be brief.

They consider phone calls impolite and intrusive, and they despise the small talk.

To be truthful, I get that, recalling those busy times when my desk phone interrupted my concentration. Customer service training dictates to answer the phone with a smile because callers can “hear” it. I’d stifle a “bad word” before answering with my professional greeting, which likely had the tone of “WHAT?

These days, however, avoiding the phone is a culture shift as much as it is time management.

Don't answer phone text vs call

In her book “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other,” MIT professor Sherry Turkle wrote that unlike voice, texting provides feelings of control. And by relying on Facebook, texting, IM’ing, Skype, Twitter and e-mail, we’re losing the ability to talk to another person.

Growing up in more easy-going times with no social media I welcomed phone calls, often anticipating them with excitement. I still relish long, newsy chats with friends and family afar. Yet I admit to putting off calls that I fear will take too much of my time, and scheduling calls with certain friends, which would have seemed weird years ago. In these fast-paced, high-tech times I use my fingers much more frequently than my voice to communicate, and if someone does happen to answer my calls, it’s often to say, “Email me your questions, please.”




About Lorrie DeFrank

Retired and relishing the time to write about anything concerning people 65 and older, which is everything.
This entry was posted in 65 plus, humor and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Goodbye, Telephone

  1. Susan Geisler says:

    Another wonderful blog I can relate to! We don’t even have a land line any more, and I love it! Good job Lorrie!!

  2. Harry Schnabel says:

    I can relate to this blog! Well done.

  3. says:

    Another good one and so accurate – I find myself doing the E-Mail instead of picking up the phone and calling except for Aunt Peg or anyone who in this day and age do not have or do not use a computer and are not on the internet. Sad that we do not communicate verbally like we used to but such is life. Keep bloging – you are doing great. My love, Nancy

  4. You speak for most of us, Nancy. Even in retirement, we type away. Yes, those “Aunt Peg” calls are the best!

  5. Susan says:

    This so true….but I still call people on my landline and even (god forbid) write letters. I have to hear their voices; you don’t get an excited voice in email or a good laugh. Technology has created a world of confusion because no one can communicate accurately.

  6. Jeff McCartney says:

    Will you still pick up if someone wants to say “Happy Birthday”?

  7. Those are the calls I would gladly answer, Jeff!

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