No matter whether you’re an Apple advocate or a Samsung lover (other phone brands are available…), when we take out phone contracts nowadays, it seems the biggest concern for the majority of us is how much data we get, whether it comes with unlimited messaging, and very little thought is given to the number of free minutes we’re given. It may seem small, but this speaks volumes about who we are and our preferred method of interaction – and if we’re honest with ourselves, how many of us would actually prefer to communicate with our peers via text or IM than by doing so face to face? I’d bet the percentage is larger than you’d imagine.
When I was younger, my brother and I would race each other, and our parents, to get to the landline whenever it rang. I’ll be honest, 95% of the time we knew it was never going to be for us, but there was always the promise of a catch-up chat with a relative or a family friend before we begrudgingly handed the phone over to whichever parent they’d rung to speak to.
So many of my early-teenage years were spent making phone calls to my school friends and chatting for hours and hours about absolutely nothing in particular, but those hours spent were everything and I wouldn’t change them for the world - no matter how cringey they are looking back. Better still were the calls in hushed tones with those terribly awkward silences to boys from other schools, or the ones who were friends of friends who you’d met for approximately two hours one afternoon and who were of course destined to be the love of your life (or not). I really hope my future children get to experience this in some way. It’s a rite of passage of sorts, and texting can be such a weapon amongst the youth.
Even as an almost 30-year-old, the text messages we receive can be so insincere at times and can be so often misinterpreted, causing unnecessary anxiety for both parties. Whilst I get completely that they are convenient and a much quicker way to keep in touch, I always question why we feel the need to rush engaging with our friends and family? I know a lot of older people who really rely on being able to hear a voice on the end of the phone as a huge part of regular human contact. One of my biggest regrets is that neither my dad or my grandparents lived to an age when I appreciated more the stories they had to tell, and that I never really sat for long enough on fortnightly phone calls to listen to the advice they shared with me unconditionally. One positive that came from this is that it has taught me a valuable lesson to almost slow down in a way and to take the time out of my day to ring my boyfriend, mama or my brother and just ask them about their day. I do this almost religiously and something I can’t recommend enough.
I am so guilty of overthinking and jumping to the worst conclusion when it comes to texts and emails, even when they’re from people I know love me unconditionally. So often I find myself thinking: “Oh shit, why didn’t they reply in X amount of time?” or “Why did they write that in that way?!” Jumping on the phone and just hearing tone of voice really adds context to a situation and can make the world of difference to those wasted hours that would otherwise be spent needlessly worrying over nothing.
Being instantly reachable has its advantages, of course, but you miss out on so much in terms of real, deep interactions with the people who matter you feel. Ringing someone and chatting, laughing and even crying with that other person, just you two, for so long you completely forget how long you’ve been on the phone for is one of life’s little joys - don’t you think? I miss how frequently that happens. It’s rare and it’s something to be cherished, but unfortunately, I find that as much as you try to keep it going, other people seem kind of scared of the phone at times. Or perhaps they just don’t have the time to spend on a call and a text is just that little bit more convenient.
Human interaction is so important, even in the things you wouldn’t necessarily give a second thought to like speaking to a customer service advisor – it’s the empathy and the understanding that we crave and that enables us to just get on with our day. If I could share any advice, it’s don’t let phone calls become yet another “thing of the past”, speak to your friends, your family and even those lost acquaintances. It’s much more than the novelty it’s taken for, and you will miss it more than you can comprehend.