Growing up I used to love rushing home from school to call my friends on our house phone. I was just with them and yet, I had so much to talk about when it was my turn to use the phone. I would spend hours hiding from my parents while I gossiped about so and so on the football team or that one teacher who totally ruined my class average in Trigonometry. So - why am I now 21 years old and absolutely despise talking on the phone?
Taking a guess, I would say social media, cell phones and the ultimate power of unlimited connectivity are at the root of this revolution. Raised in a generation of technological innovations unlike any other, it became easier and easier as time went on to stay connected... and that didn't necessarily mean a phone call. The game changed! First, instant messaging (IM) was all the rage. I would hop onto AIM and there were my friends! I could see if they were available based on their presence indicator and shoot them an IM. Could there be an easier way to communicate?
Then came Myspace. This online social media site was the "Holy Grail" of messaging to our generation. I distinctively remember logging onto my page and seeing 12+ notifications- how popular was I, right? My biggest concern back then use to be who made it that week onto my page's top friends. I would spend hours clicking away. It wasn't long after Myspace that Facebook became the social site of choice. And then Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest and a slew of other social media sites soon followed suit. Staying connected was no longer a concern. If you had an internet connection, the world was at your fingertips. So why pick up a phone?
Now, by no means necessary should we overlook the day I got my first cell phone. That day fell somewhere in between Myspace and Facebook. The only numbers I had on my phone were my immediate family member's, and I was instructed (as most young children were back then) only to use it in cases of emergency or if I needed an immediate response. Texting didn't become a regular form of communication for me until high school. So logically, I only used my cell phone for phone calls and those were few and far between- I'm sure my Dad liked it better that way... no overages. But when I began texting on a regular basis, it became my primary form of communication with both friends AND family. My Dad always made jokes about how strong my thumbs must have been from all of the "working out" they had been doing... <Insert sarcastic laugh at a classic Dad joke here>
Once smartphones hit the market, I had to have one! My Android and I stayed connected 24/7 and it has been evident ever since that, I among the other 75.4 million Millennials, had truly been raised in a tech savvy world. One phone held every social media platform, search engine, online game, music gallery and messaging application we knew and loved. Though small in size, our pockets had never been bigger.
Once I made my way into the workplace, I realized how outdated business communications were. Basic phone systems and inboxes full of emails were the only means of staying connected in the organization. That was simply not going to cut it. As I transitioned into new roles as a marketer with new companies, I realized the power of unified communications. A fully integrated office enabled users to use whatever form of communication was most beneficial to them. For professional conversation, urgent matters or customer relations, phone calls and video messaging were imperative in terms of efficiency and overall quality. For general correspondence or more relaxed conversation, IM, email and real-time status alerts got the job done. The idea of a fully integrated workplace closely resembled my idea of a top-of-the-line smartphone. With everything needed for business success right on my desktop, the marketing realm was mine to rule!
So, taking all of that into consideration I must ask myself again, why do I hate talking on the phone so much?
It is actually a very simple answer. I have spent the last 8 or so years categorizing phone calls with immediate needs and professional conversations. To this day, I only tend to make a phone call when I need something. Otherwise, I use one of my other 345 platforms, apps or messaging systems.
This does not mean, however, that I do not appreciate the value behind human-to-human face time (no not FaceTime), or neglect to see the importance of hearing the other person's tone of voice. There are undoubtedly missing elements of genuine human connection when there is no direct facial expression or body language to gauge the conversation's tone. I whole-heartedly love to sit down with my peers, family and/ or friends and fully engage in conversation.
But a phone call? If we're in the office and the situation permits, sure. Otherwise, forget it- just shoot me a text ;)