For the past few days, I’ve wanted to call a few friends about happenings in their lives. But today, most people over 15 prefer a text message or email or -egad- a snapchat instead of a real, meaningful phone call. So we text, email, post on Facebook. We choose relatively anonymous communication in which the receiver of the digital communication is left to interpret what we meant in the moment we pecked out those few letters or shared that “deep” meme (what a joke). Have we become cowards? Are we truly too busy for a real phone call or conversation (without checking our phones every few minutes)?
I have a few friends who call me when they’re going somewhere in their cars. They’re busy people, yes, but it leaves me feeling like I’m there to fill their time. “I have 20 minutes before I have to (whatever), so I’ll call Jeannine.” They don’t realize that I have a difficult time understanding a call from a moving car. I don’t know that I have to stop talking because they’re at a drive-thru, placing an order. I don’t know that I don’t have much opportunity to say much because they’ll be at their destination in a few minutes.
Do you ever yearn for those days – long ago – when you looked forward to calling a friend or family member? Even if you had to make that call after seven or eleven o’clock at night when the rates were low. Something about getting comfortable in a chair with a glass of Pepsi (or your favorite), and looking forward to catching up with a cherished friend, having time to each share what was going on, and each make the other feel good.
Now, even those “calls-from-the-car” are awkward. They’re always hurried. And people don’t talk about life like we used to. You can’t concentrate on the road AND truly listen to what a friend is saying. It’s dangerous, and you’re likely to focus on how you will respond rather than listening to what your friend or family member tells you. Oh, you hear it, all right, but do you actually listen? You can’t do it, because you’re supposed to be focused on the road.
Sometimes you get a quick, “How’s your day going?” call from a friend at his/her office. Again, that’s not the time to have one of those old-fashioned, relaxed conversations. People at work aren’t supposed to engage in personal calls.
I’ve called friends/family at home when I figure they’re home from work. But then, I sense that they’re stressed out by the day or, because of the nature of their jobs, the last thing they want to do is talk on the phone.
The saddest part of this is how it’s affecting kids in their teens and twenties. They laugh at the thought of having a phone conversation. Their lack of verbal communication shows when they demonstrate that they can’t have a face-to-face conversation. They don’t know what to say, don’t understand the rules of civility: look someone in the eye and TALK.
To this day, I remember how excited I’d get when I knew my then-boyfriend was going to call me. That meant he’d have to stop what he was doing, dial my number, ask the housemother to put me on the phone, and then tell me what had happened since our last conversation. We wrote letters then, too. We share silly stuff, such as “a fraternity came into our room tonight to make a panty raid. It was SO embarrassing!” And we share our hopes, fears, and plans for both college and the future. We learned about each other that way.
Now it seems as though we are just too busy. And when we write, we’re too lazy to even spell out a word. “How are you?” becomes “How R U?” Are we just SO busy that it’s asking entirely too much to include those four letters?!
It makes me sad. I remember having a three-hour conversation with one the first friends I made after college. What fun!
But now people are too busy, and it’s hard to maintain a relationship with clipped phone calls and text messages.