March 18, 2011

"I remember when I was growing up, the rule was, 'Don’t call anyone after 10 p.m.' ... Now the rule is, 'Don’t call anyone. Ever.'"

Telephoning is over.


edutcher said...

OK, then why are all those people driving half the limit on the expressway with their finger in their ear?

Most of the people I see can't live more than 10 seconds without calling somebody.

The Blonde calls it soap-on-a-rope.

Allen Edwards said...

Interesting to read that the reporter first thinks "What's wrong?" when she gets a call from a family member or friend. My parents were Depression Era, pre-WWII kids, and that was the first reaction they used to hear from grownups (remember when we used to call adults that?). A long-distance phone call, or worse ... a TELEGRAM! It could only mean someone had died.

And so the world turns.

wv: bawadness -- yes, it is, isn't it.

Harry said...

There's a joke about an old Mainer whose son was concerned that he had no phone in his house. "Dad, what if you had an emergency and needed help?" he would ask every time the subject came up.

Finally the old man relented and agreed to have a phone installed.

The next time the son was visiting his father, they were sitting on the porch in the evening and the phone started ringing. After eight rings, the son asked, "Aren't you going to answer that?"

"Now son," said the father calmly, "I thought we had that installed for MY convenience."

former law student said...

If the landline rings, 95% of the time it's a stranger who wants money from us.

Marilee said...

I miss talking to my kids on the phone. They prefer texting. You can't hear the inflection of their voice to gage how they are. Texting is so sterile. I miss hearing a voice on the other end. I also miss the big ole phones you could hold between your ear and shoulder whilst multi-tasking.

SteveR said...

The landline is almost never someone I want to talk to. Only my mother in law uses it and we are breaking her of it. Except that wife still nees a fax line option to service some clients in her real estate business, we'd get rid of it. That reason too is becoming unecessary.

Conserve Liberty said...

My younger daughter is studying at Trinity College - Dublin this semester. We speak weekly on the telephone using from her laptop, unless we Skype.

We have to text my son (middle child) first to make an appointment to call - and even then it is iffy.

My older daughter calls every evening from D.C., where she works. She just asked us to send her an old rotary phone we've had in a box in the cellar since the dark ages. She has decided she wants a land line - and she might as well be totally retro.

reader_iam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SWWBO said...

We have no choice but to have a land line. Cellular service does not come out to our little part of Kansas. Broadband does not make it here, either. DSL - no way - we are way too far from a CO for that to work.

We pay $100 a month for pretty darn slow satellite internet access that does not allow us to stream videos, radio shows or use Skype or Vonage.
We pay another $69 a month to AT&T for a landline phone with only caller ID as an option.

When it comes to communications, I envy you city folk - you get so much more for so much less money.

When it comes to sitting out in our hot tub under the stars, you should envy us - no neighbors close enough to see if we are clothed or not, the sounds of coyotes, owls and spring peepers at night, and the utter beauty of the dark without city lights and noises.

Methadras said...

My mobile has become my ball and chain. I am instantly accessed by anyone in my contacts at any given time either via text, facebook, email, phone call, whatever. Generally people are respectful and don't call past 10. Sometimes, it's been to discuss something important that couldn't wait. My wife and daughter are the only ones allowed to call me at anytime anywhere.

reader_iam said...

“When I walk around the office, nobody is on the phone,” said Jonathan Burnham, senior vice president and publisher at HarperCollins.

How behind the times he is. What's he doing walking around a central office? Everyone knows that the truly cutting-edge telecommute (and don't spend idle time interacting in a communal office building).

This does involve, regularly enough, some phone--or at least "phone"--time, though, and often enough in conference with people scattered all over the country and world.

Go figure.

Ron said...

I always prefer talking to texting....quicker, more human, I can always convey more with my voice than a half dozen text messages in a fraction of the time. The Times article looks geezerized to me!

Harry said...

I don't generally like it when casual friends call and want to talk for a long time as I need to be doing something while I talk so I won't be bored. If I put away the dishes they complain about the noise on their end. Folding laundry is good.

I have one right-wing buddy who calls and wants to rant for an hour or more. In addition to being one of the few people I know who still does this, he doesn't do internet, so his rants are always about issues that were played out a month ago but that he's just read about in "Chronicles."


Skyler said...

Another NYC-centric article talking about how the world has changed for the cacoon of "in" people who assume the rest of the country is just like them.

vbspurs said...

Ron wrote:

I always prefer talking to texting....quicker, more human, I can always convey more with my voice than a half dozen text messages in a fraction of the time. The Times article looks geezerized to me!

Doesn't that remind you of the last scene in the movie, The Social Network (which I adored)? Stop refreshing and pick up the damn phone, I kept thinking.

Incidentally, Western European phone etiquette insists on no calls after 9 PM, ever, unless someone coughed up a lung.


vbspurs said...

Pity poor Sally Quinn, Skyler. Must be hard to hear that phoning is dead when you have 6 landlines ready and willing.

Jane said...

I have a neighbor who is my age - 40 - who still hasn't learned to use e-mail to communicate with me. I feel frustrated when she calls since I homeschool, and it's a major interruption. When the phone rings, I know her kids are home from school because she can't cope).

Thanks for posting this Althouse - now I realize I'm not so unusual to be bothered by the interruptions.

Talking is fine if I'm washing dishes or cooking, but otherwise I feel stuck. Skype is more miserable than the phone.

Carol_Herman said...

Dorothy Parker. 1930. Did an essay of a woman who was waiting for a guy to call. "Please God let him call me, now."

The call never comes in. Does this surprise you?

reader_iam said...

Phone call appointments have become common in the workplace.

They were almost an everyday occurence back in the mid-'80s, when I was assistant to a very, very busy financial planner servicing very, very busy clients (including specialty surgeons). I spent a lot of time coordinating schedules and setting those up.

They were also routine while I was stringing for newspapers, trying to break into full-time, during that same time period, and they were likewise routine enough when I achieved the goal of working full-time in the noosbiz.

They were also routine when I started consulting on ERP training projects in the later '90s and when also when I started editing foreign policy articles for a think tank in the early aughts.

My husband would say the same thing, based on both his experience in substantial # of years of consulting and his substantial # of years of working for A Large US Corp as a telecommuter.

Here's the thing: What the hell is *supposed* to be new about this article? There *are* things contained therein that are at least somewhat new, but at least from my POV, not the things that are supposed to be new.

reader_iam said...


Turn off the ringer and develop the habit of glancing at caller ID and/or scanning voicemail (or answering machine) "incomings" at personally convenient, regular intervals. It works and puts you in control no matter what others do.

vbspurs said...

RIA, Jane, all, does anyone else have two separate phones (whether landlines or mobile), for friends/family and for everything else?

I do. Works better than call screening because you can just turn one off all night.

reader_iam said...

@Jane: My previous comment directed at you wasn't intended as snark, and I'm concerned it can be read that way (because I didn't write it carefully enough or provide context).

Here's context: I homeschool, too, and in our [various] homeschool mileus, there's a whole range of communication preferences. In addition, my husband is a telecommuter. He's done that as an employee of a very large corporation for a decade and also as a work-at-home consultant prior to that. I've done the latter as well off and on, and for many ways.

I meant that comment, as I do this one, in a friendly way, to point to a skill set that I--we--have learned by experience is a very critical one.

reader_iam said...

and for many ways should have been and for many years--though ways has some bearing, too.

reader_iam said...

In more than just a few ways, my mantra of one size almost never fits all has been come by honestly... .

; )

Almost Ali said...

When I was a teenager, my girlfriend, my "Juliet," called me EVERY night at exactly 7pm. This lovely ritual went on for years, until life finally intruded and we went our separate ways.

I don't answer my land-line anymore, except at 7pm.

bagoh20 said...

Let's face it. We just don't like us very much, and don't want interrupted from our spooning with god. Everything else is just a symptom.

PatCA said...

I wish the remodeling solicitors would take the end of telephoning to heart. I may dump my land line completely if they don't.

vbspurs said...

I don't answer my land-line anymore, except at 7pm.

In case it's Juliet! How romantic!

reader_iam said...

I also refuse to be slave to [checking] email--on any of my many accounts, save one--much less to be such to same-times, DM's or texts (unless I'm paid to do so). I categorically don't accept "Well, I can prove I sent it!" as a justification for having passively (and too often passively-agressively) demanding I respond to whatever or, worse, after the fact, asserting the job of negotiating what I will or will not do was accomplished just because someone in two seconds zipped off an e-message of whatever type and/or flavor.

You want bullshit? I call *that* bullshit, and I call bullshit on it. Especially with regard to the ilk who confuse their desire to embrace edict-by-bland-electronic with actual negotiation to get stuff done--and with actual accountability, moving both ways, to boot.

jamboree said...

I hate phone calls. Hate 'em. Real phone calls - long phone calls - not a minute on the cell during which both sides have to suffer the frustration of the short time delay messing up the rhythm.

I'm okay with email, but it's not what is once was to me.

I was a normal 12-yr-old (of my time) who talked for hours - this only happened once email took over. I'm text oriented, what can I say? Speaking became a pain.

Love texting too - I think I'm the only person my age who does. Last project I noticed that only the old ppl at the workplace use email/computers anymore.

I was thinking of getting my real estate license to save on the fees when we sell - CA apparently only has written tests. Just the idea of having to write something legible scares me. Very unfair. I can barely scrawl out a grocery list anymore. As it is, it looks like an axe murderer wrote it.

Kev said...

I'm quite the fan of texting instead of calling, as I'm a big multitasker. I only have a few hours at home every day, so it's difficult to devote my entire attention to only one thing, and a phone call all but demands that you do that. (Parents are exempt from that, of course, so long as they're calling when I'm not at work.)

I'm very close to dumping my land line, and if I do so, one of the big reasons (besides saving money) will be to ditch the solicitors who robo-call--especially the ones who >start their messages when the answering machine picks up, thus cutting off the first half while my greeting plays. I don't even know for sure that the message is meant for me, so there's no way they'll ever receive a return call. There really ought to be a law against this practice...

reader_iam said...

it's difficult to devote my entire attention to only one thing, and a phone call all but demands that you do that.

reader_iam said...

As it's been sown, so shall we be forced to reap.

wv: probe

Seriously. No shit. That's what it is.

reader_iam said...

it's difficult to devote my entire attention to only one thing, and a phone call all but demands that you do that.

So telling.

About all those texts, im's, e-mails, tweets, dm's and many more of all of that's: Do you find all of that distracting and hard to focus upon, too? Have you considered that perhaps your approach is *degrading* your ability to pay attention--in general, and even specifically, including to the things you hold most dear?

Nancy Jean said...

I have tamed my land line with my question machine. There are two: who are you, and what do you want?

I won't answer the phone until I hear the answers.

Bruce Hayden said...

I haven't used a land line for years now (probably about 8 years), except for immediate family and girl friends. One of the later can't see well enough to text (and refused to learn before that), and so I have to talk to her over the phone. And, it was my father's birthday, so did have to sign the requisite song for him.

My work phone forwards to my cell phone, and my cell phone has my Outlook contacts, often with photos, so when I update the my contacts on the computer, they shortly get updated on my phone. Thus, I will often have the photo or logo for the caller popping up on my cell phone for calls to my work number. Saves having to remember all those phone numbers.

But I find that even as an attorney, I don't spend that much time any more on a call, and most of my calls now seem to be scheduled, and often are conference calls of one sort or another. I can conference in 2 others on my desk phone, and we have our own conference center/lines where I can conduct larger ones.

Even though I am not a MSFT fan, I do find more and more that even outside my firm we are using Outlook to schedule calls. Someone sends around an appointment, and you either accept it, reject it, or suggest another time. And, if you accept it, it is automatically included in your calender - which is why I cannot fathom still using a Day Timer.

Oh - and timing. At least our foreign associates understand the concept of time zones. There seem to be a lot of people on the East Coast who don't. I am 3 hours behind them, and 8 a.m. their time is 5 a.m. my time. I have custom rings for anyone in my family or anyone whom I would accept a call from at that time of day. But it still aggravates. I don't call them at 5 p.m. my time, so why are they calling me at 5 a.m. my time? Just another reason to operate primarily by text and email.

Bruce Hayden said...

Things do change though. Around 15 years ago, I worked as an inside patent attorney in a large company. When I arrived there, the rule was that the phone was answered by a real person. And, mostly, that meant going through a receptionist. After hours, the phone calls went to a recorder.

Then, the CEO mandated voice mail. After all, we were a technology company, and refusal by the IP department to use voice mail was ludicrous. So, the pink phone memos started disappearing. They still haven't - I get one about once every couple months, instead of a half a dozen a day.

Voice mail made perfect sense then. We had offices around the world (and, literally, the sun never set on the company). So, our engineers on the other side of the world could leave messages during their work days, and we could respond during ours.

Now, voice mail is on the way out. At work, instead of having to figure out how to check for my mail, remember all the codes, etc., I just have it sent to me in email. I can then click on the email and listen to the voice mail either on one of my computers or on my phone. But that also means that I have some voice mails that are months old at the bottom of my inbox.

Beta Rube said...

I am a partner in a small business that sells and services business telephone systems and related technology.

When I started in the 80's as a new salesman after losing a "rust belt" factory job, everyone had a receptionist to answer phones and greet visitors.

That position is largely gone now, and even though I make my living off the technology that has replaced them, I miss the charm that those ladies brought to the business day.

There are still countless calls made and taken everyday, and direct human conversation cannot be replaced by the written word. Email will never deliver the emotion and emphasis inherent in the human voice.

Michael said...

Beta Rube: On the other hand, the people being called have been liberated from the idiosyncrasies of those cheerful phone answering ladies. Even today when one gets one on the line and they are so very helpful. Mr. X, they atone, doesn't have voice mail, I am his voicemail. Heeheee. OK, lady. Then I give her the message as quickly as I would give it to voicemail, often on a complex topic with big words. I have to repeat the message two or three times or give up and ask for the call back at which time I have to repeat it again. Nice lady doesn't work at 2 am.

You are doing a huge service to mankind by producing and selling equipment that eliminates those "jobs."

Beta Rube said...

Thanks Michael,

That was our sales pitch in concise form.

I am just an old fashioned guy who likes the friendly voice on the other end of the line. We still use live answer, as do many service based companies.

Customers having a problem want to talk to a person in their time of need.

galdosiana said...

As a college instructor, I have to say that the students are more addicted to phones than EVER! Of course, they do not actually use them to talk to people, but they text-message NONSTOP. My colleagues and I have even had problems with students messaging during class, and not even trying to be sneaky about it. They just whip the phone out, plop it on the desk in front of them (out in the open) and start typing away!

My own younger siblings are also text-message addicts. They cannot get through a meal, a tv show, movie in the theater, or any other event without constantly messaging their friends. I consider this to be extremely rude. They see it as natural.

My, how things change in such short time!

kcom said...

" did have to sign the requisite song for him."

FYI - signing doesn't work over the phone. ;)

As to the article, it obviously has a point, but the ridiculous over-generalization is laughable - "nobody talks on the phone any more." Sure. Right.

It's just more over-the-top media hype because they had to have something to write about. Instead of doing an article that observed the current situation vis a vis technology, they decided to go "high concept" and cram real life into an artifiicial box. Aren't the NY Times types supposed to be the ones who understand nuance?

Our general calling limit was 9 pm in my world.

Bob_R said...

My daughter calls to chat all the time. Usually talks to her mom, but I've learned to be patient and listen to the chatter. (I would enjoy it live, but find it annoying on the phone. Why is that?) I greatly prefer email to the phone.

jr565 said...

perhaps home phone calling is dead (ie on the land line). But people call on cell phones all the time.
THough I have noticed this too. Usually when I get in touch with friends it's through emails or IM.
Doctors appointments or business are handled through phone conversations.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I think it depends on where you live and who you associate with.

Like SWWBO I live in a very rural area. We are extremely lucky, however, to have access to high speed DSL. So we use Email for many of our communications between family and SKYPE with friends and family. Communicate via email for business and use web meetings services quite a lot.

Cell phone reception sucks. There are many "dead spots" which means you have to drive to a special location and hold you mouth just right to make a cell phone call.

Because my husband's business is with people who generally don't have computers (no connection and some are older people who don't use computers or cell phones at all) we have THREE land lines into our home and businesses.

Thank goodness for caller ID. We have it programed to show up on our television so we don't even have to look at the phone to see if we want to pick up the call. I have no problem ignoring the phone when it rings.

madAsHell said...

People don't call cuz they know you've got nothing to say.

Now....when will the editors at the NYT figure it out.

Steve said...

What I laugh at is that if all we've had were texting and email, and someone invented the phone, everyone would be running around saying
"I've got this new gadget and I can TALK TO THEM AND HEAR WHAT THEY ARE SAYING!!" "You gotta try it!."

If you want some fun, put a rotary phone on the end of the line and watch one of these kids try to dial a call.


Eric said...

I'm a technical guy in a position that doesn't involve customer interface. Yesterday I made my first (work) phone call in almost a month.

You see, somehow my password had been locked and I couldn't log in to check my email. So I had to call the company support desk.

Jeff the Broker said...

@Jamboree: you don't need a real estate license to sell your own house.

Pamela said...

When I go see friends at their homes I turn off my cell phone, same with doctor appointments, hair salon appointments, and eating at a resturants. I just think it is rude to take calls, or text on my cell when I am visiting others. I don't think it is cool when my friends do that to me, so I turn off my cell when I see them.

I also hate it when others cell phones go off when I am trying to eat. Also my time with my doctor is important, My hair appointments are a time to relax.

I just think allot of rude behavior comes out of having the cell on.

And in our household growing up no calls allowed after 9 on weeknights and 10 on Saturday nights. Unless it is a family member.

Skookum John said...

My folks were of the era when a long distance phone call meant a death or an engagement.

I myself grew up with touch-tone phones in constant use. Now, there are few people other than my mother whom I talk to by telephone.

My daughter is a freshman in college, and won't even use email. Everything is text messaging or a comment on Facebook. Except that once a month or so she will deign to let us both talk to her and see her face with iChat.

Mister Snitch! said...

I don't give out my phone number anymore (emails/text only). Phone calls are rude. They assume you have nothing more important to do than answer them. They break your concentration. They're annoying. They interrupt. I think they're a prime source of modern stress.

edutcher said... "Most of the people I see can't live more than 10 seconds without calling somebody."

That's why I thought it was just me, but I guess it's not.

cas127 said...

Even (perhaps especially) in its dubiously sourced "lifestyle"/trend pieces, the NYT cannot summon a "voice" that sounds natural to 85% of the US population.

To wit:

"I literally never use the phone,” Jonathan Adler, the interior designer, told me. (Alas, by phone, but it had to be.) “Sometimes I call my mother on the way to work because she’ll be happy to chitty chat"

Yep - chitty chatty interior designers named Jonathan definitely manifest that median American.

I honestly wonder if the NYT has become a daily exercise in self-parody.

M. Simon said...

My voice mail box has been filled for about a decade. I have always hated that stuff.

And even back in the FIDO Net day I preferred my BBS mailbox.

reader_iam said...

Good grief!--what a bunch of a) control freaks and b) evaders of fleshly folks you all are.

This means something. Doesn't it?

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard said...

In the '60's the mantra was "BE HERE NOW."


bobby said...

"OK, then why are all those people driving half the limit on the expressway with their finger in their ear?"
- - - -

YOU try driving the expressway in to work with one of your fingers stuck in your ear. Why do you THINK someone might drive slower in that situation Sheesh.