I Strongly Dislike Talking on the Telephone

A moody introverted sort, I feel wiped out by the end of most workdays, so talking on the phone can feel more like a stressy chore than mellow reconnecting.

Jun 1, 2014 at 1:00pm | Leave a comment

I'm not sure exactly when I began to develop my intense hatred of the telephone. Like most women I know, I was super into it when I was growing up in the '80s and early '90s. Nearly every night throughout high school, my mom would pry my fluorescent pink-and-green behemoth of a corded clunker from my angsty adolescent hands as I routinely chose to gab for hours with friends I'd just seen at school, like, 90 minutes earlier.

Back then, talking on the phone was a major source of connection for me -- a way for my friends and I to complain and gossip and plot and cry and generally RELATE. When I think about it, my years of endless telephone jabbering were a pretty significant tool in the formation of some of my childhood's most intense, important, and long-lasting friendships.

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I'm not an asshole. Really.


Oh, how things have changed! Nowadays it's usually texting or nothing for me. The only time you'll catch me answering my phone when it starts blaring my obnoxious "Law & Order"-theme ring is if I'm trying to make plans, or if something's happened -- to me or to someone else. In other words, if I'm waiting for someone to call back to help me process some monumental decision or life issue, OR if I just desperately need a girlfriend to help me prod, poke, dissect, and overanalyze some petty comment some petty dude dropped on me via text.

But when my phone rings unexpectedly, or for no good reason, all bets are off. Errrrr, actually, bets are ON -- they're on me completely ignoring that little chunk of devil-tech until I've listened to the voicemail to determine if it's worth a prompt callback. Sometimes I feel like a Bad Person for not answering when a friend calls -- especially when I'm not really doing anything more important than sitting on the couch, eating things, and watching marathons of "Orphan Black" -- but apparently that vague little guilt veil isn't powerful enough to provoke me to, you know, actually pick up.

Why did this phone-hating happen? How did it happen? I can blame my shift on a few things. Technology is one of them, of course -- the advent of texting (and the joyous revelation of unlimited messaging plans!) has made it so convenient and easy to communicate with people on my own time, without going out of my way to actually, uh, speak to them. (Lame. I know. Sorry.)

As a writer-person, I've always felt naturally more comfortable and in my element when communicating via the written word; I like having time to consider my words, reconsider my words, move shit around, delete shit, and then reconsider my words a little more before I hit "send." I find that it can cut down on miscommunications (though it's true that it can be much harder to infer someone's tone via text -- is that sarcasm or assholery I detect?).

I'm also an unrepentantly moody jerk here and there. This means I require a certain amount of space to myself -- that whole "me time" cliche -- to deactivate my brain, mindlessly eat things, mindlessly watch TV and movies, and/or mindlessly read blogs, social media, whatever.

And as an easily irritable introvert, I tend to feel wiped out -- like I need a brain break -- at the end of most workdays, so talking on my iPhone can feel more like a stressy chore than mellow fun. ESPECIALLY if the phone rudely demands my attention while I'm eating dinner or immersed in "SVU." (Yes, I know I should just turn off my phone or silence my ringer when I take said alone time -- I guess I like knowing when texts and other notifications come through.)

Another element contributing to my telephone aversion is kind of a sad one, but it's true, at least for me: being in my later thirties means my friendships aren't as intense and all-encompassing as they used to be. When I was a kid/teenager, as mentioned earlier, I loved talking with my friends every day, for hours and hours, about every dumb or massive detail of our lives.

But as I've gotten older, we've spread out, and migrated, and gotten careers, and taken on more Big Life Responsibilities, so we tend to have less energy or time to spend aimlessly chattering for longer than a few minutes once a month or so. Plus, most of my buddies are now married or in long-term relationships, and lots have kids, which can make it tougher to find an apt moment to talk.

I don't want to blame them, though, because even if they wanted to talk more, I'm not sure I would, for reasons explained above (that have absolutely nothing to do with my love for them). I do love them, even if I don't call them often!

I'll admit that thinking about my youthful love of telephone still makes me a bit nostalgic. I miss the good (and dramatic) old days of having crazy-close friendships with people I shared nearly everything with. I miss processing and listening and supporting each other in a way that only a real, lengthy conversation -- not a written exchange -- can provide. I miss the days when our lives were less chaotic, and we weren't all so cut off and ensconced in our tiny private bubbles.

Does this mean I'll answer when my phone rings? Maybe ... but only when my shows aren't on.

How do you feel about talking on the phone -- are you more of a talker or a texter?

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