Who Calls These Days?

“[T]exting is inferior to talking… because it’s too easy to misinterpret – over-interpret – tone. Worse, texting makes it more likely…to dodge difficult emotional conversations, the ‘hard stuff’.”

–  Jenna Birch 

An article in the March 2016 Smithsonian magizine was entitled, “OMG! We’ve been here B4”.

The article chronicles how the telephone was first met with consternation because of its impact on a society use to letter writing – “barbaric yawp devoid of social grace”, “fine for somethings, but not for delicate communications – like inviting an aquantance to dinner”, “Thanks to the telephone…our neighbors have it in their power to turn our leisure into a series of interruptions” and, with with respect to chaste young ladies, “The serenading troubadour can thrum his throbbing guitar before the transmitter undisturbed by apprehensions of shot guns and bull dogs”.

Now, the fear is that texting will replace the good old fashioned communication of phone calling – for the exact same reasons the phone was excoriated for the demise of letter writing.

“We’re living through a replay of the telephone, where the things that made it valuable – instant communications – are the same that made it annoying.”

I’m not so sure texting is all that bad. True, sometimes it’s hard to get the intended tone with the words, but emoticons (as silly as they are) do help. And usually it takes more time to carry on a conversation – what gets texted back and forth over a half hour could have been accomplished in five minutes by phone.

But texting has one distinct advantage over the phone: the phone, with caller ID, lets me know who is calling, but I have no idea what they want unless I answer to find out; with a text, I not only know who’s “calling”, I also know why through the included text, and I can take as long as I want to compose a reply.

One thing about having a cell phone – I  can’t say I didn’t get a call or text because I was away from home. 

But I can say, “Sorry, it was turned off.”

– Bill




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