I’m pretty much an idiot when it comes to using a telephone. Honestly, the whole phenomenon eludes me. I always feel so awkward speaking on the phone. I feel like I’m always interrupting the person I’m talking to, and they’re always interrupting me.
It hasn’t always been this way. When I was a younger person, the phone was the main way that I used to communicate. Not any more. I email, I text. I instant message. Talking to someone “in-person” is definitely preferred, but if that’s not possible, the phone just seems awkward.
And it’s actually worse when I’m talking to someone I know. When I’m interviewing someone, I automatically go into this sing-songy fake voice, and usually let the other person do most of the talking, but when I’m talking to someone I know — like a friend, or a boss, or someone I’ve talked with in real life — I talk like I would if they were standing in front of me, but of course I don’t have any visual cues to know when they’re done speaking. When two people are talking in the same room, the person who is speaking generally doesn’t look straight at the other person. They’re eyes will look up or to the side, especially if they are recalling something or describing an idea. When they’re ready for a response, they’ll make eye contact.
In a real-life conversation, if two people overlap in their conversation, you can usually hear both your own words and the other person’s words, and you don’t notice that you are interrupting each other. On the phone, it’s different. If you speak at the same time as the other person, it’s hard to hear what they said, and then you get the “What? Oh, sorry. No, you go ahead.”
And don’t get me started on voice mail messages. The concept seems so archaic to me. Even now, with my “smart phone” that separates the messages out so that I don’t have to listen to them all at once, listening to just one message seems like such a hassle, when it would be much easier to read what the person has to say.
I’m probably over-thinking this. Do I really think that text messaging is a better way to communicate, when so much is left unsaid because both parties are collapsing their thoughts into the easiest typable sentences, or even email, which is much less natural than speaking to someone?
Perhaps I’ve drunk the kool-aid a bit, but I can’t go back. I have a feeling I’m going to grow even more alienated from the telephone, than rather than less. Sure, there’s always a need for it — especially when I need to interview someone that I can’t talk to in person — but for anything else, I’d rather type to you, rather than talk to you.