“I have an idea for an article you could write.”
“What is it?”
“You need to write about the importance of calling people.”
“Like on the phone?”
“I had 130 Facebook posts and a bunch of texts wishing me a “Happy Birthday” but nobody called me. I really wanted someone to call me.”
Make Time To ‘Phone A Friend’
I was one of those friends guilty of posting to Facebook and sending a happy birthday text. I didn’t call my friend on her birthday, and I should have. In this day and age of instant communication, we sacrifice real communication. The kind of communication that says I took time out of my day to call you, to just say “hi”, or to ask you about your day. The kind of communication that says you’re important to me, I care about you, and I want to give you my time.
So much connection, yet so much disconnection.
Are We Really That Busy?
We used to call people. Now, we scroll through social media posts as a substitute for checking in on friends and family. We’d rather send an obligatory text than have a full-blown conversation. Are we really that busy? We spend hours keeping up with email, posting to social media, texting, or scrolling mindlessly, but we can’t call a friend on his or her birthday.
When did a phone call become an unwanted intrusion?
Convenience Over Connection
We’ve become a very self-involved society–and I’m not exempt. We don’t like to be taken away from what we are doing. If it’s not at a convenient time for us, then it’s just not convenient at all. I will request for people to “shoot me a text” rather than call me, so I don’t have to engage in a conversation. When we do this; however, we fail to practice important skills, such as negotiating the ebb and flow of authentic conversation, practicing active listening, and learning how to create intimacy with people.
My young, adult children will do anything to avoid a phone conversation. They hesitate to make appointments over the phone because they might have to talk to someone. One of my daughter’s friends quit a job because she had to answer the phone. I can’t blame them for their anxiety. Growing up in a generation where texting has become the standard form of communication, they’ve rarely practiced holding phone conversations except with their grandparents.
Why We Should Press The Call Button
This is why we need to call:
- There is clarity of intention. You don’t have to read between the lines to figure out what a person means.
- It’s refreshing to put a voice to a face.
- Conflicts are less contentious. When we hide behind a keyboard, it’s easier to be cruel.
- You can figure out a person’s personality. It’s hard to interpret sarcasm or a dry sense of humor via text.
- Texting is impersonal and creates a distorted sense of closeness.
- We are forced to pay attention which creates stronger, emotional bonds.
- Studies have shown that people are more honest over the phone.
Re-Connect Our Relationships
I’m grateful to my friend for reminding me about the importance of a simple phone call. Like many of us, I’ve slowly been eliminating phone calls from my life. By doing so, I’ve also eliminated connection, intimacy, trust, and the opportunity to strengthen my relationships.
I think Stephen Levine, an American poet, sums it up well, “If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?”
Let’s pick up the phone this week.