Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Two-Way Communication

by J.S. Holland

People are scared to talk on the phone these days. I know this because I'm always learning too late of important time-sensitive messages and changes of plans from people who invariably say, "Well, I did email you about it. I hate talking on the phone."

Guess what, my Smartphone-spoiled chums? I don't live on the internet. I check my email every day, but if I'm supposed to meet you at Firpo's Pizza at 6 and you crap out at 5:30, you have to call me. Or even text me, for Pete's sake. I welcome text messages, for those of you afraid to speak to a live human.

I find that some of my most Facebook-addicted acquaintances are among the most glaring examples of people who practice telephone avoidance. Coincidence? I think not. People really are starting to prefer Facebook to actual interaction, even of the telephone sort. That frightens me.

And the really crazy part is, they'll sign away all rights to privacy on Facebook and the rest of the spy-laden internet, but they keep their phone number protected as if it's some sort of state secret. Someone I know actually said once on Twitter, "I don't want to give my phone number out here, it's too dangerous." Dangerous how? Werewolves hiding in the bushes? My phone number is 502.649.3378 and I don't care who knows it. Find me.

(Synchronicity dept.: as I type these words, Wendy Torrance on the TV just said "Our telephones don't seem to be doing so well.")

Awhile back I was monitoring a thread about a breaking news story on an internet message board. The crux of the discussion was over whether a certain business location was open on Sundays. Most went for pages on the thread shrugging their shoulders going, "gosh, if only we had a way to find out." Then a slightly smarter breed of geek said "Dude, you're on the internet. Use a search engine, dumbass." This resulted in conflicting data, however, and several pages more of the thread were taken up with bitter squabbles over how some web pages listed the business as being open on Sundays while others said it was not.

I settled the argument and chimed in to the discussion that I'd ascertained the place was in fact open. They demanded to know how. "Simple," I said, "I picked up the damn phone and called them."

"Oh. Ha ha. Cool."

It literally had not occurred to anyone to do that.

Wake up, people. You hold in your hand a tiny device that is capable of contacting almost anyone in the United States without long-distance charges (assuming you have a sensible flat-fee full-coverage calling plan, as I do) via a space satellite network. USE IT!

(The inevitable "having said that": I'm actually going to be ditching my land line (pictured above) very soon and will be working toward jettisoning my cellphone (pictured at top) in the next year or so. You wanna get ahold of me then, you'll have to call my secretary or personal assistant. I'll be on the high seas, gone fishin'.)

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