I have this great, old rotary phone. Yes, it still works, and yes, I still use it. It rings with a warm tone that the iPhone’s “old phone” ringtone does a really poor job of mimicking. It sits next to the couch and rarely moves. Although, it does have a 25 foot cord, so it can be dragged about the apartment without too much effort. But, it normally stays in place because it has a specific purpose. It is used for conversations about nothing in particular with people I really care about. I generally reserve those sorts of conversations for face-to-face meetings. But, that’s not always possible.
These sorts of conversations are somewhat rare these days, and apparently not just for me. The Times has found a few people that seem to really hate the using the phone, and for good reason. A lot of us spend (or spent) a good portion of our working days cradling a handset–and have the lingering neck pain to prove it. The thought of yapping on the phone after hours just isn’t all that appealing. I’ll also be the first person to defend other sorts of messaging. Email and text messages can be way less intrusive and more to the point than a phone call. What if you have no “point” though?
A conversation with no point is often referred to as “catching up”. While this may be a thorn in the side of productivity, it’s not such a bad way to stay connected with people you want to stay connected to. Sure, there’s Facebook and the like that threaten to make us all a little bit too connected. But, a wall post here and there really isn’t the same as hearing somebody’s voice, is it?