In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a number of close encounters of the weird kind involving phones. In my tiny part of the world, it seems that there is an aversion to answering a phone when it rings or making a phone call to communicate. Facebook messaging and texting have become the preferred ways to communicate. This has proven frustrating to me.
Inability to leave a message –
Especially with cell phones, a number of people I’ve called, including family members, work contacts and strangers have phones that ring and ring never to be picked up or are picked up by a machine that has a version of the message “the mail box full and can’t receive any more messages.” A few relatives and friends and more than a few people on work projects, simply never answer their phones. They either check caller ID and call you later, or you have to send a text for them to get them to call you back. Sometimes this goes on for weeks and in one case, it’s gone on for months!
Why can’t people just pick up the phone when they realize that you’re not the bill collector or supervisor or ex-whatever they’re trying to dodge? In none of these cases do I think people are dodging me, this is just the way they do business these days. They don’t answer the phone when it rings and they’ve disabled the ability for a voice message to be left. to It’s aggravating.
Emailing instead of calling –
I’ve also had a number of recent instances when friends and work colleagues have emailed me on a weekend day early in the morning and we’ve missed an opportunity to connect or I didn’t get back to them in a timely manner because they didn’t simply pick up the phone and call and say to me what they emailed. Sometimes, I purposely don’t turn on my email until later in the evening on weekend days. Sometimes I’m out and about and, since I don’t have a Blackberry or iPhone*, I don’t get email messages on my phone. I do, however, keep my cell phone accessible and would have picked up (or called them back if the call came when I was at the retreat or in the movies for example).
Is it just me or are people reluctant to make or out-of-the-habit of making phone calls these days?
On a few projects that I’m working on, I literally go through 10-12 names and phone numbers before I get a working #. People change cell phone numbers frequently or give the incorrect number on applications and in workshops that they’ve signed up for. Add to that the number of people who say they “have emails but never check them.” What’s the point of having an email address that you never check? It is easy enough to distinguish between spam, jokes and important information.
I’ve resorted to sending letters in the mail to reach people who I cannot reach via phone or email. It has been effective somewhat, but sometimes even this doesn’t work or they get back to you so long after you sent the letter that you no longer need their information or the opportunity you were hipping them to has passed.
I find that this reluctance to use the phone has infiltrated me, even! I will email friends about stuff that I used to pick up the phone and talk to them about. Making a phone call has begun to seem like an intrusion. There are some friends that I pretty much never talk to – we only email or message each other on FB (and I don’t go there a lot).
What gives? Have you noticed this? Phone calls require actual real-time dialogue as opposed to sending out a one-way communication that you may or may not want a response to and for which you probably won’t get a response. Something’s been lost.
Can it be that it was all so simple then? The phone rang, you answered not knowing who was on the line. Wow. What a concept. Direct, quick.
Aaaarrrggghhhh! This is really impacting my ability to get some things done.
(*I don’t have these devices accidentally on purpose as we use to say in my girlish days.)