Why do people hate to talk on the phone these days?
I could understand it better in Chile, where many people used pay-as-you-go phone plans. They only paid for minutes used. Instead of talking, they used texting or the free app, WhatsApp, to contact their friends and make plans. No one that I knew actually used their cell phone for conversation.
I’m in the US now, where most people have unlimited talk and text plans. We can call from coast to coast and talk as long as we want, but what do we do? We choose text over talk.
I don’t know why we do it. I’m a terrible texter. My fingers are always hitting the wrong buttons. Being Miss Perfectionist, I end up editing over and over. It’s time consuming and frustrating. Forget about using that predictive text. I tried it, but found out that it couldn’t actually read my mind after all. I had to turn it off.
Recently, a new friend and I made plans to meet up. It took eight texts to iron out details that could probably have been settled in a two minute phone call.
Years ago, when I lived in New York, two friends and I tried to make plans for a birthday lunch. The texts went something like this:
Marcia: Let’s get together for a birthday lunch.
Sally: Great idea!
Katrina: I’m in!
Marcia: Next Tuesday?
Katrina: Class on Tuesdays.
Marcia: Can’t. M-in-Law arrives. Thursday?
Katrina: Class on Thursdays.
Sally: What day can you do it, K?
Marcia: Too soon. Wed?
Sally: Can’t. Already have plans.
Marcia: Maybe, but after M-in-Law leaves.
Sally: So the weekend of the 25th?
Katrina: Forgot. Promised to visit Mom that weekend.
Marcia: What about the Monday after?
Sally: That’s good for me.
Katrina: Looks good for now.
Sally: Okay, Monday, the 29th. Where?
Marcia: A new bistro just opened near me.
Sally: Let’s try it.
Katrina: I came into Manhattan last time.
Sally: You want us to come to Queens?
Katrina: It’s only fair.
Marcia: Okay. Do you know a good place?
Katrina: Not really.
Sally: I heard there’s a good sushi place on Astoria Blvd.
Katrina: You know I hate seafood!
Marcia: Then you pick the place.
Katrina: I don’t know of any good places.
Sally: What about Italian? Isn’t there a good Italian place out there?
Katrina: You know I can’t have all those carbs.
In retrospect, Marcia and I should probably have eaten at the new bistro near her place and left Katrina to fend for herself out in Queens. When I mentioned to Marcia that we could have made plans in a couple of brief phone conversations, she seemed mystified, as if the concept were foreign to her. She’s not alone.
Last week, I received a message from a young woman who was interested in volunteer teaching in Chile. I could imagine a jillion notes going back and forth between us, with question after question. Instead of trying to divine what she might want to know, I messaged her back and sent her my phone number, suggesting that she call me.
My phone has been silent. Do you think she’ll text me soon?