Telephilia/telephobia QUESTION

There was this article in Salon a while back, Nobody ever calls me anymore, with the subtitle “I feel like the last person who still likes talking on the phone. Why did we give it up, and should we reconsider?” And it’s not that Sarah Hepola’s friends are merely using instant messaging, e-mail, texting and the like. “A lot of people I spoke with despise the phone, and have for a long time. Why would they use it if they didn’t have to?…A voice call… demands too much attention… ‘Maybe it’s that there are too many distractions (TV, folding laundry) and I am guilty of giving in to them OR it’s that I can hear the other person doing the same thing. There just never seems to be a good time to sit down and speak into the void.'”

Don’t get me wrong; I use e-mail a lot, especially when it involves a lot of detail. But for a real conversation I still like the phone. I call one sister and ask if she’s heard from the other sister. Generally they’ve been texting back and forth. I have not warmed to texting, maybe because most of the people who I know who text seem to miss the point, that someone will back to them as necessary, when there’s a chance; some folks retext or even call to ask, “Did you get my text?” Then again, I don’t use my cellphone except when it would not bother other people; I’ll pull it out while waiting for the bus, but not on the bus, unless it’s really short, such as “I’ll be late for work.”

I was reminded that, back in the 1980s, I had something called an address book, where I kept people’s addresses and phone numbers. Periodically, I’d pick up the book, leaf through it and note that I hadn’t had spoken to X for awhile and I’d call him or her up. I had this girlfriend who saw me doing this and chastised me for it; “You should call people you want to call without this crutch.” I totally disagreed. It was like randomly wandering through a library, picking out a familiar book, and reading a chapter.

Even at work today, I am more likely to pick up the phone than any of the librarians, all of whom are at least a decade younger than I am. For one thing, I’ve collected a lot of contacts over the years. Also, there’s so much that’s NOT in the databases or the webpage, nuances that can only be discerned by talking to the right person. But more than that, I LIKE talking to (most) people, which our youngest librarian, about half my age, disdains.

What is your relationship with the telephone?
Dustbury quotes someone whose experience is very similar to mine.
How Your Cell Phone Hurts Your Relationships– “The mere presence of a phone affects how you relate to others”

4 thoughts on “Telephilia/telephobia QUESTION”

  1. I’ve always detested the telephone. For at least 30 years I’ve been refusing to interrupt conversations because The Phone was ringing. (“Aren’t you going answer it?” “No, I’m talking to you. Now finish your sentence.”) Today I refuse to carry a personal phone for the same reason that I refuse to wear a ball and chain. For this reason (among others) I’ve been called crazy. But now, thanks to this post, I have discovered that my disdain for telephones means that all this time I’ve been simply AGES ahead of the fashion. Suddenly I feel so… with it.


  2. I agree that “in-person” conversations via the phone are becoming increasingly rare with this next generation. My kids prefer texting or email. Although I’m a digital immigrant, I think there is still value in picking up the phone and calling another person! I found an old business card holder full of cards and wonder if I should keep it?!


  3. There’s times I don’t like the phone and times I do like it.

    I don’t like it when:
    – I’m talking to someone who can’t enunciate
    – There’s a risk for misunderstanding because the reception is exceptionally poor
    – I’m in the middle of something (e.g. work). That’s when texting is a good idea
    – It’s an emotional topic
    – The person is someone I have trouble “reading.” Not seeing their face is creepy

    I do like it:
    – If it’s someone too far away to talk to face-to-face but I miss them
    – If the call is to quickly clarify plans (this is when texting gets annoying – just call and we’ll figure out which movie and what time)
    – I know it will be relatively short


  4. I have never really liked to chat on the phone, much preferring face-to-face conversation. After having spent nearly fifteen years as a case manager and the large and lengthy amounts of time on the phone required of that, I like the phone even less. If it’s not in-person, I prefer email and texting for quick, telegraphic exchanges of information and impressions, and send many of both. Texting became VITAL in raising a teenager in coordinating who/what/when/where between both parents and the child. It’s also cheaper to have pay as you go texting on a cell phone than a contract for voice.


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