Posted by: kristakhauk | April 18, 2011

“I’m Busy… Just Text Me”

It is truly amazing how the way we communicate with one another has drastically changed over the years. This was brought to my attention a few weeks ago after being prompted to read a New York Times article called “Don’t Call Me, I Won’t Call You,” which points out that in this day and age, phone calls are considered rude, intrusive, and awkward. With the exception of people in your life like parents, spouses, or children, phone calls seem either urgent or impolite.

In the last five years, even adults have given up using the telephone, including land line, mobile, and voice mail, and according to Nielsen Media, even on cell phones, voice spending has been trending downward, with text spending expected to surpass it within three years.

When I think about who I usually call, I’d have to say it’s a pretty limited group – and the only one I call consistently is my mom – because she’s the only one who will stop and chat for more than two minutes. Then again, I’ve learned things like not to press the ‘ignore’ button on my cell phone because then people will know that I’m there.

Part of me appreciates this new phenomenon. Now, when I’m somewhere in public – like getting my haircut or standing in line at the grocery store – I don’t have to listen to the person next to me’s conversation about what a jerk their boyfriend is or about how annoying their coworker was today.

In a business aspect, Jonathan Burnham, senior vice president and publisher at HarperCollins points out that the nature of a business call has also changed. “Phone calls used to be everything: serious, light, heavy, funny,” Mr. Burnham says. “But now they tend to be things that are very focused. And almost everyone e-mails first and asks, “Is it O.K. if I call?”

So what has taken the place of phone calls? Commenting on a friend’s Facebook status, text, e-mail, and twitter updates substitute for actual conversation. With friends or family who warrant face time, previous arrangements are usually required.

My initial response to the article was “How sad!” I’m honestly a little embarrassed that our society has come to this point where technology rules out personal interactions.

In the nine years I have owned a cell phone (I also had my own “line” in my house years before that), I recognize the transformation of its use. I remember trying to keep my call minutes down to under 500/month and waiting until 7 p.m. on weeknights to make calls because my girlfriends where we would just talk (about nothing) for hours… where now they are very focused.

It’s truly pretty sad how little person-to-person contact occurs. I think it’s actually doing damage to my generation and generations to come. Interpersonal skills don’t develop, or are inhibited because they are not practiced.

My opinion is this: I think being able to maintain a personal connection with people close to you, including business relationships, is extremely important. But I cannot argue that the convenience of social media, texting, and all other forms of technology that has replaced the purpose of a telephone is revolutionary.


  1. I read this article as well and I was also struck by the way that relationships have evolved as a result of cyber connections. My Facebook “friends” have evolved from my closest peers, to friends of friends, to acquaintances, to people I’ve met once on vacation. Walking across the University of Oregon campus has turned into a sea of people that I am connected to on the Internet because we have similar demographics, but I don’t know the first thing about them.

    I remember my first cell phone way back when in 2004 and within the past seven years, the etiquette of phone language has changed and I attribute much of this evolution to social media and the way people interact behind a screen. There is no such thing as confrontation because people hide behind a keyboard, where it is easiest to express emotion without the vulnerability of face-to-face contact. The days since my first cell phone have evolved so that I prefer to text before calling. In terms of fostering new relationships, there is a new protocol. First there is the Facebook friend request, maybe a wall post if you’re lucky. Then comes a weekend text, maybe just a conversation with no real point though. It is only after two people have reached a comfort through Internet and text exchanges that phone calls are permitted. The same goes for dating. According to commercials produced by, 1 in 8 marriages stem from an online dating site. The point of all of our social technology is to make communication faster and easier, but has it simultaneously driven us apart and poised machines as the facilitator for relationships?

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