We need a new word. That oblong device you’re holding in your hand right now? The one that is always within finger reach? That’s not a phone. It’s a computer, it’s a communication device, it’s a TV, a radio, a camera… but it’s not a phone. And the sooner we stop calling them that, the sooner people will stop trying to actually TALK TO YOU on it.
Because nobody wants that.
Scratch that. Your mum wants it.
Have you noticed that calling someone on their actual phone has become the height of rudeness?
“When someone calls me, it’s like they’re walking into the room when I’m watching TV and SHOUTING IN FRONT OF MY FACE,” says a millenial of our acquaintance, who admits to actively resenting a name flashing up on their screen. “It’s like saying, I am more important than whatever you’re doing right now.”
“There is never a time when a phone call would not interrupt me. It’s selfish and arrogant to assume you can just call people anytime.” says another about the sound of the ring tone. “If it’s anyone other than my mum, I assume something terrible has happened. It’s stressful.”
If your birth date is somewhere before 1985, you probably think it’s hilarious that phone calls have become seen as a rare and intimate act. Unless you’re Mia Freedman. If you need to talk to Mia, you’d better text first.
Listen to Mia’s voicemail here. Post continues after video…
“I’ve hated phones for a long time. I was one of the first people in my circle who changed my phone message to ‘If I don’t answer the phone, don’t leave me a message. If it’s urgent, text me.’
“Now, there’s this expectation that you can be contacted any time, anywhere, [but] I can look at a text on my own terms. I won’t have you interrupting me, when I’m with my kids, or in my car. I might not be psychologically prepared to talk to you at that time. Also… there’s no such thing as a short phone call.”
Productivity types argue that phone calls are better at getting things done. “For work, it’s quicker and more effective to just call. You get an answer, it cuts down on the back and forth, and there’s less of a risk of misunderstanding someone’s intention when you can hear their voice,” says Mamamia’s Holly Wainwright . “You can waste a lot of time composing texts and DMs that phrase things carefully, only to find yourself in an endless exchange. Just pick up the phone and talk about it.”
But at the other end of the spectrum, phones still have ultra-personal advantage of connecting you directly with someone you love. “My brother, who died last year, was one of those Phonecall People,” says Mamamia’s Editor in Chief Kate De Brito. “He wouldn’t respond to texts, he would ring. Of course, I just wish he would ring, now.”
So for the very businesslike, and the very intimate, call.
For everything else, just send a damn text. If you must, send a text that reads, “When can I call you?”
Just don’t do the dial un-announced, it’s the contemporary equivalent of dropping in without warning, hoping for cake and wine.
What do you think this is? 1992?
Are you a phone call person?
You can listen to all of Mamamia Outloud, here. This week’s episode talks about how it feels to go on Q&A, whether it’s ever okay to post a photo of a dead body to Facebook, and why celebrities don’t sit together on planes.