Are Telephone Calls Becoming A Thing Of The Past?


I used to like talking on the phone. That was before I spent a number of years working as a casualty claims representative and investigator. The phone never stopped ringing. I could have been mid-way through calculating a reserve on a $1 million plus claim and have to stop to endure twenty minutes of being harangued because the Post Office was too slow in delivering a check. It’s been a few years, but I still cringe every time the phone rings. I talk to my mother every day, and Mr. LC calls to tell us if he’s working late. Other than a few other exceptions, I avoid the phone like the plague. Apparently, I am not alone.

In the last five years, full-fledged adults have seemingly given up the telephone — land line, mobile, voice mail and all. According to Nielsen Media, even on cellphones, voice spending has been trending downward, with text spending expected to surpass it within three years.

“I literally never use the phone,” Jonathan Adler, the interior designer, told me. (Alas, by phone, but it had to be.) “Sometimes I call my mother on the way to work because she’ll be happy to chitty chat. But I just can’t think of anyone else who’d want to talk to me.” Then again, he doesn’t want to be called, either. “I’ve learned not to press ‘ignore’ on my cellphone because then people know that you’re there.”

“I remember when I was growing up, the rule was, ‘Don’t call anyone after 10 p.m.,’ ” Mr. Adler said. “Now the rule is, ‘Don’t call anyone. Ever.’ ”

I’m not sure if this applies to Skype. If I’m going to call someone from out of town, I prefer Skype. It’s more fun and personal, plus your hands are free. Otherwise, I use e-mail as much as possible, but unlike The Other McCain, I’m constantly checking mine because I have three email accounts and would just get too behind otherwise. But is he right in saying we are losing the human touch?

On one hand, perhaps we are. Through email you don’t hear a voice and the “conversation” can have long lapses. On the other hand, how many people have you “spoken to” through email that you may never have met otherwise? There are a good number of you who I’ve never spoken to on the phone or in person, but we’ve developed friendships through email that really mean a lot to me.

I don’t think the phone will ever become obsolete. There are times when a call is necessary, but having alternatives, in my opinion, is a good thing.

Side note: If your mode of communication is texting on your iPhone beware the auto correct. (Language warning, but laugh out loud funny.)