Leave a message at the tone…*

*……and I’ll probably listen to it eventually and most likely won’t call you back.

I hate talking on the phone, and I have been trying to figure out why.  I’ve looked up reasons online and some of them come close to how I feel, but I still am not getting a good picture of what the psychological problem is.

I talked on the phone more in my teens and twenties than I do now, but still probably not as much as the typical teen girl/young woman.  Sometime in the past 20 years, I’ve developed a real aversion to it.

I love people and care about how they’re doing and think of them often.  But I still don’t want to call and chat.

I was a shy kid, but am no longer shy, so that’s not it.

You can live 2,000 miles away and when I see you, it’ll be like we were never apart, but it’s not because I’ve called you in the past two or ten years.

I am fully capable of making small talk in person and am queen of keeping conversations going (although it can be exhausting).  That doesn’t mean it’s my favorite thing to do and that I’m going to pick up the phone and choose to do that in my free time.

Speaking of free time, I work full-time, have a part-time job, and volunteer a lot, but I still do have time to myself that could be used to make phone calls, so that’s not it.

I don’t hate answering the phone at work.  I actually kind of like it.  This is because I’m good at greetings and then passing the call to the person for whom it’s intended.  Short and sweet.  I don’t really like making calls as much, but at work it’s always about work and so the business is tended to and then the call ends.

I think that’s part of it – on a personal call with no problem-solving on the agenda, there is no telling how long that call will last.  There will be small talk.  There very well could be awkward silences where someone is expected to come up with something and hasn’t yet.  Then you both might start to talk at the same time.  And then I’m absolutely going to forget what I was going to say, because it didn’t matter all that much in the first place.

Also, if I were to have an extended phone conversation, I would expect that to tide the other party over for a very long time.  I would not expect to have to talk to this same person at length again on the phone until approximately the time the next stage of their or their childrens’ lives started.  As in, graduation from high school, college, marriage, divorce, retirement.  If someone close to you dies, text or leave me a message and I will absolutely be at their funeral.  But please don’t make me talk on the phone.  phone talk

This brings me to what I would do for people, which includes traveling great distances, attending weddings and funerals, helping you move, donating a kidney, giving you money that I cannot spare, letting you live in my guest room or on my couch for as long as you need, cleaning your house, escorting you to the bathroom after surgery, and giving you the best bite of dessert.  But please, just don’t make me talk on the phone.

Obviously, the phone is a fine and useful invention.  Some information needs to be obtained or shared quickly and that is sometimes the best mode of communication.  I do make occasional phone calls.  Ones where there is little chance of getting stuck for more than three minutes.

I would still like to work on this thing that could be seen as a problem and become more comfortable with it.  I know feelings have been hurt and people think that I don’t like them anymore because I don’t call.  Maybe someday I will turn on the ringer on my phone and maybe when you call, I’ll pick it right up.  Just do me a favor and start out short and sweet.  I imagine if that first call is a marathon one, it’ll scare me back into my silent cave.

Feel free to leave me a message.  And get ready to receive a texted response.  If you don’t text (looking at you, some of my septua-octogenarian friends or those with limited data plans), then I will even hand-write a card and put a stamp on it and mail it to you.  Snail mail is still fun to get, right?

Texting is great.  Rapid-fire texting with 5-6 in a row before getting a response can be annoying.  I try not to do that to others because it bugs me so much.  Also, I won’t text continuously for an hour.  A few back and forths should do it.

And finally, there’s the Facetime/Skype option.  One online phone-despiser said that this works much better for her.  LORD, NO.  That’s worse than phoning!   Not only do you have to make conversation, you look hideous during it, which is incredibly distracting.  I have never had a flattering Facetime or Skype session.  I’ve ended them not remembering anything we discussed, but with some confidence-crushing indications that I’m getting older and could use an acid peel and a diet plan.

So if you’re reading this and you’re my friend and you’re feeling unloved, please know that I do care and I’m working through this particular mental problem.  I’ll consider moving it to the top of the list for you.





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