Well, there’s few things I hate as much as phones. I know, it is an awful admission to make, given that I am currently fully committed to improving the phonelines around the world.
I’ve always put my oddity down to my being bi-lingual. (My sister is deaf, and so I’ve grown up in two parallel universes communication-wise, one entirely visual.) But I’ve discovered I’m not the only one with phone-phobia, thereby giving me the courage to admit to it so publically!
I just don’t ‘get’ phones. They demand instant attention when they go – none of this polite “I’ll give you a few mins to put down what you’re doing.” They require synchronous conversation, which is not always convenient. Yes, sometimes you do need an immediate answer to something, but often there’s not quite that much urgency. (Ok, maybe it does allow slightly more personal comms than a-synchronous methods, but still…)
But there’s just something so wholly impersonal-feeling about phones in general. Ok, the one concession to phones over email is that at least you can hear the tone of voice. But there’s something so temptingly deceptive even about that. Surely I’m not the only one who holds the phone far away from me if I ever start crying on the phone… or just if the darling phone-contact is speaking overly loudly. And then, if you were in a particularly cheeky mode, you could always hold your nose for added tonal effect.
And then, they’re just so “always there”. Especially with mobiles now, there’s a general expectation that you should be contactable any time of day or night. Ok, most people tend to be rather reasonable with this freedom afforded them, but even so, sometimes you just want to unplug without having to make apologies and justifications to everyone who happens to notice…
As far as expressing yourself goes, it’s not like you can even use emoticons over the phone. Just imagine the madness:
“Yes, thats a semicolon, followed by a dash, followed by a closing bracket, thankyou.”
“Ok, and why are you winking at me again? Is that meant to be a sarcastic wink, or a conspiratorial wink, or are you just joking.”
As if all this wasn’t bad enough, we then come to the epitome of it all… voicemail. People actually expect you to speak to a machine.
Talking to stuffed toys is weird. Talking to plants is slightly less weird (at least they’re alive) but is usually considered just slightly wacky. Talking to machines is just plain *wrong*.
Then to add to the humiliation, you know that at some unpredictable time in the future, someone is going to listen to your subdued uncertain tones, and phone you back, freshly-laughing at your machine-chat.
It’s enough to make anyone concede that the invention of the phone was one amazingly significant step in the world’s history. I’d probably agree with this actually, but nowadays maybe mostly for what other inventions it has provided a stepping-stone to, rather than for phones themselves in their “purity”.
Significant disclaimer: I love my job, really! Don’t anyone *dare* to actually take my post title seriously! 😉