If you’ve ever called me and found me in a foul mood, I apologise. Truth is, your call might have tipped me into cranky territory. I just can’t stand phone calls.
I wasn’t always like this. I had my fair share of hours long chats with girlfriends and boyfriends as a teenager. In true Nineties fashion, I cycled to the nearest phone box to call my latest paramour in the vain hope of a little privacy. Thirty cents bought uninterrupted time for awkward conversation.
But as an adult, phone calls are perfunctory. Where. When. Bye. And only if a text won’t cut it. I email or Facebook message if arranging something complex. I’ll try Snapchat if I need to get anyone under 20’s attention. If I can order food, accommodation, a restaurant table or a ride online, I will. The old fashioned phone call has become a desperate act of last resort.
I’m sure I’m not the only one in love with everything my phone does aside from what it was originally designed for. I’m sure I’m not the only one with an aversion to answering the ring. I don’t pick up my home phone – the only people that call are telemarketers. If I don’t recognise the number, I won’t answer my mobile. I’ll google the missed call and decide whether I needed to be contacted. And let’s not pretend anyone checks voice mail anymore.
I suppose I am over-protective of my limited time. In a world saturated by communication and the pressure to be constantly “on”, a pointless phone call is an intrusion too far. There are so many other ways to contact me. Ways that I have more control over how and when I respond. It feels particularly intrusive when the phone call comes from someone other than a family member or close friend.
Calls come with an inherent presumption that I have time to talk. In all likelihood I don’t. If the kids are around, telephone conversations are absurdly peppered with phrases like “Oi, don’t ride the dog naked” (true story). It’s just not my preferred method of communication – it doesn’t fit well into my crazy life.
If a long conversation is in order, then let’s catch up over wine and dinner where you can have my undivided attention. If it’s a quick question or observation, SMS me. For banter and laughs, let’s use whatever messaging app suits us best.
But if you are experiencing a crisis – physical, emotional or existential – call me straight away. If you need an immediate ear and a sounding board, I am here for you. When you need a hand to pick up your kids or someone to look out for them because you are going to be late, ring away. These are things that phone calls are meant for. Immediate access to a friendly ear and voice. I would never begrudge this kind of call from a friend. But if you don’t need that level of immediate help – then a phone call isn’t the right medium.
We have so many methods of communication these days. So many tools to convey our messages. Perhaps the growing aversion to phone calls is more about an aversion to the wrong tool being used.
But all of this goes out the window on birthdays. Because I do love a good happy birthday call (preferably with singing).