“Not picking up the phone would be like someone knocking at your door and you standing behind it not answering. It was, at the very least, rude, and quite possibly sneaky or creepy or something. Besides, as the phone rang, there were always so many questions, so many things to sort out. Who was it? What did they want? Was it for … me?”
This is an interesting piece by Alexis C. Madrigal on the demise of phone calls. But I don’t think he does enough to drive home the shift that has taken place.
Phone calls are an especially violent form of communication. This is in part because they are strictly synchronous – all participants have to take part at the same time – but also because a ringing telephone is incredibly distracting.
Unless it has been scheduled beforehand, a phone call by definition places the caller’s needs above the recipient. Without the screening technology of newer forms of communication, anyone with your number can impose their consciousness onto yours.
Even if you don’t answer. No matter what you are doing.
But the plethora of asynchronous communications methods – text messages, email, social media etc. – means the bar to phone calls is now higher. Or at least it should be.
If it isn’t life or death, or you don’t need an answer five minutes ago, then don’t call me. There are plenty of ways to communicate that don’t prioritise one person above another.
Calling when it isn’t necessary is, in fact, quite rude.
“No one picks up the phone anymore. Even many businesses do everything they can to avoid picking up the phone… There are many reasons for the slow erosion of this commons. The most important aspect is structural: There are simply more communication options.”
Unfortunately, society hasn’t quite caught up to this new norm. Or, at least, older generations haven’t.