I’ve learned an important question to ask friends. And it’s one that seems to bring out strong opinions. That question is, “How do you want me to get in touch with you?”
Many people try to text me without asking first, and I’m not sure where their texts end up. I have the cheapest possible cell phone plan which doesn’t include texting. I chose this plan partly to save money (I don’t know how people who keep up with all the latest gadgets stay solvent), but mostly because I simply don’t want to text. You may not know that, in 1974, I was the second fastest typist in the state of Maryland; and my speed and accuracy have only increased since then. I sit at a computer all day long, so why would I want to trade my full keyboard and ten lightning fast fingers for two thumbs on a tiny phone?
Some people prefer a real voice over the telephone; some like carefully composed words via email; and some (believe it or not) still want handwritten letters by post. My friend who holds out for this last option does not hear from me very often. I realize I am a dinosaur but I suppose she is even more prehistoric than me.
Here’s the bottom line for me: I don’t want to be available to everyone, everywhere, all the time. I grew accustomed to a simpler lifestyle in Eastern Europe and value the elimination of stress. I enjoy the freedom of responding, via email or facebook, at a time that works for me. And while I do appreciate cell phones if my car breaks down or I want to chat as I take a walk, I’ve been a victim of their misuse so often that I get a little testy on this topic.
Frequently I’m driving behind a swerving car, assuming the driver to be drunk, only to see a phone plastered to their ear. (I believe North Carolina is one of the few states left to still allow their use while driving.)
And it’s boorish to try to converse with someone whose eyes don’t meet mine because they’re bonded to their phone, giving the clear message that the person who’s texting is much more interesting than I am. It’s as though two people plan to get together and one of them invites a third person along.
College students are my frequent lunch companions and, amazingly, they are not the culprits. It’s often people my own age who have become so dependent on their phones that a conversation or meal isn’t complete without them. You know the type. You mention a movie and seconds later they triumphantly brandish their phone showing the movie trailer. Maybe Baby Boomers are more enchanted by the newfangled smart phones or perhaps they’re less adept at using them inconspicuously.
Whatever the reason, I’m not one of them. You’ve heard my opinions. How do you prefer to communicate?