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Jewish Journal

Phones, Shmones

by Mihal Levy

September 23, 2009 | 2:33 pm

I’ve forgotten how to talk on the phone.  Is that bad?  Look, I get the basics.  It rings, I answer.  But how do you convey emotion?  There are no emoticons, no lol’s.
How do you know when the other person is thinking, or if the awkward silence is due to the fact you have just said something to upset him/her.  There is no indicator to let you know. Text messages and emails are so much easier.  Getting right to the point.  No beating around the bush.  No small talk. 

Here’s the start of pretty much every phone call. 
“Hello?”
“Hi, Mihal, it’s me.”
“Oh, hi (fill in name here).” Although you already knew who it was from caller ID, you still pull the surprised tone.
“Did I catch you at a bad time?”  How do you answer this one?  “No, I was just sitting here in anticipation, waiting for the phone to ring, clearing up my schedule completely, in case anyone happened to call.”

You get my point, there is too much wasted time.  And when you’re a mom, every free moment equals longer mom naps.  The longer the conversation, the shorter my nap.  With a text message, it’s simple and straight to the point.  “I’m running late.”  “Be there in five minutes.”  “Call me.”  “I’m going to bed.”  “Your test results came in positive.”  There’s no need for small talk…ever, in my opinion.

During the day, I am so busy running around, even in my own place (either I’m overdoing myself or I really need to get on ADHD meds).  I hardly have the time to just “chat.”  And I mean this respectfully to anyone who calls me (or used to call me, until they read this).  Most of my conversations are done while driving (yes, on a headset or speakerphone) from place to place, with my son in the back seat asking me to turn up his music (and he’s only three, so I’m sure this will get worse). 

Being that my time is limited, I don’t have time for small talk.  How am I, what am I up to, how’s my day been so far?  Let’s just fast forward to the reason you called…am I late on my phone bill?  Do you need advice?  Just keep the questions short and quick and I’m good.  That is why email works so much better for me.  I can keep in touch with all my friends at 2:00 a.m. 

Even important messages aren’t phoned in anymore like, “Happy birthday,” or “Grandma just died.”  What are phones good for anyway?  I’m sure we could reach emergency service quicker by sending an email, rather than dialing 911 and waiting on hold.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing as personal as actually hearing someone’s voice, but what’s more important, being personal or productive?  Exactly!

And with emails, you never have to be interrupted by “the other line.”  I never really understood call waiting.  You are on the phone, but interrupt the conversation to answer another one, in case it is more important?  Waiting for a better one to come along?  If you were enjoying the conversation you were already having, would you be so quick to get “the other” call?

Emails and texts just make it that much easier, and no one has to know if you were interrupted during their email or even in the bathroom while typing it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Mihal Levy used to collect degrees as a hobby.  After receiving her B.S. and M.S. degrees, she worked as a psychotherapist and research scientist before continuing her hobby of...

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