Recently, Apple released the new iPhone 5. They advertise that this edition of the iPhone has a bigger screen, panoramic photo capabilities, faster speeds and other bells and whistles they’ve apparently thought up since the four or more prior versions. This is great but to me, Apple as well as iPhone users are forgetting the namesake of this exceptional mobile device – it makes calls too!
In this day and age when the iPhone, Droid and other “smart phones” have placed the capabilities of a laptop computer neatly within your pocket, one thing everyone seems to forget is that first and foremost, they’re cell phones. But despite this fact, like everyone else, I use my smart phone for everything except making calls.
The convenience of looking stuff up on the Internet remotely, making notes, keeping calendars, and even checking Facebook with the touch of a finger – no matter where you may be hanging out at the moment – seems to have removed the need to tote around a laptop. But the main thing that has made these “can’t do without devices” more communicative than ever is the ability to text rather than making boring old-school phone calls.
I realize that texting in many ways has its advantages. First of all, it enables the user to send a message anytime a thought pops into their head, regardless of the hour of day or frequency of transmission. We know that the recipient then has the option of responding when it’s convenient for them. So, if they happen to be holding court with friends or meeting with clients, sleeping, eating or enjoying a moment of personal time, the nuisance of answering a phone call is replaced by the unobtrusive option of responding to a typed message at a better time. However, this phenomenon has rendered the friendly familiarity of a live person on the other end a thing of the past, and this is a little sad in my mind.
In fact, it’s made it where phone calls are almost reduced to emergency situations, even though nine times out of ten the calls I make go straight to voicemail. And, many times I find that when a missed call gets to the voicemail option, the person at the other end hasn’t even set up their voicemail box to accept messages. I can’t complain, as my voicemail box isn’t set up either. This is mainly because 98% of voicemails left to me in the past simply stated, “Hey it’s me, call me when you get a chance.” I saw the missed call, I know you called and I can surmise that you want me to return the call when I can. Besides, most people who call and can’t reach you will turn right around and send you a text with the details of why they called in the first place – especially if it’s important.
I will say though, that I do miss the voice-to-voice, real-time communication that a phone call enables. Texts aren’t the same. You can’t tell intent, mood, joking comments versus flat cut-downs and other inflections that a live voice provides. That’s why we have to use those stupid emoticons like smiley faces, frowny faces or the dreaded slanted mouth face to judge what the texter is trying to convey emotionally – which is especially important with new friends or persons of love interest.
I recently started seeing someone who prefers texting to phone calls when we’re not seeing each other face to face. I get it. It’s more convenient, enables each of us to think about what we’re saying before we say it, versus blurting out affectionate “sweet nothings” we later wish we’d said differently (if at all). And, it also removes the nervousness felt when making or receiving a call without prior warning. It works pretty well, and it does make our face-to-face contact a little more special when it occurs. So while texting versus a friendly voice may a little less personal, I guess it’s the emoticon of the times. Call me!
Chuck Crowder is a local writer and general man about town. His opinions are his own.