Breaking News: The Kids Don't Like Talking on the Phone

As anyone who has ever tried to call me can tell you, I'm pretty bad about picking up the phone. My voicemail message used to clearly disclaim that callers are welcome to leave a message but chances are I will not return the call in a prompt manner. Is that rude? I thought it was fair, I didn't want people to leave important information in a voicemail thinking I'd listen to it. I generally hoard voicemails until I can no longer receive more. I believe the magic number is 20 and let's be honest about it, half of those are usually from my dear Going Concern editor who could just as easily text me.

I keep my ringer on silent all the time. I use ColorID on my BlackBerry so I just have to look at the color of the LED light to know if I'm getting a text, a BBM, an email (sorted with different colors for my 8 different accounts) or a phone call. Important contacts also have their own colors (don't tell my editor but he's set as the spastic pink "girlfriend" color scheme) so I know when to ignore and when to leap for the phone (hello, Lazy Paperboy). Some might call this lazy but for me, it helps me stay organized and sort tedious conversations from pertinent ones.

For the record I still try to call my 81-year-old grandfather at least once a week. My grandma - who used to be the recipient of my weekly phone calls - passed away late last year and it's kind of fun to see how my grandpa has embraced the phone he used to hate. That being said, we do also email and he's had great success with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. So we can still both hate the phone together.

Moving from California to DC has brought another complicated twist to being available: my friends and contacts back in Pacific time seem to forget that I am now 3 hours ahead. So while a late morning phone call to them is only just an early afternoon call to me, it can get annoying after 10pm here when it's only 7p there and one of us is trying to rest.

Anyway, I'm all for not talking on the phone unless you want to. I still enjoy calling sources and conducting actual phone interviews over email ones and spend more minutes than I care to admit distracting The Lazy Paperboy from his super important day job but prefer email any day as it allows me a chance to craft my words and gather my thoughts.


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.’ ”

One last point, can we knock it off with the literally? This guy obviously does not literally never use the phone or he wouldn't have an example of calling his mom. FAIL

Jr Deputy Accountant

Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.


Anonymous said...

I'm not a kid, but I hate the phone, too. Always have. I answer it at work because they make me. At work I have to talk to really important people about really important shit. Otherwise I just shut it off. Oh, and I Skype a video call to somebody I like once a week. That's kind of like a phone call isn't it?

Kara said...

I am thinking of making my voicemail message the URL for this post.

Blue said...

i ignore my phone. i average less than 5 minutes a month on it. :) ahhhhh well. hope i don't miss any important calls. i guess.