The other night I had a rather long, and deep conversation with a friend of mine.
The topic of conversation touched upon a sensitive topic and a lot of personal information was shared. After my friend finished "dumping" (their phrase, not mine -- to me it was more like sharing) all this information on me they commented that they couldn't believe that they had just shared all of it via text -- "don't people talk anymore? they asked. (Either one of us "could have" called the other when it became obvious that the conversation topic was more than a short interlude... but we didn't.) "No. People don't talk anymore. One day talking will be obsolete," I texted back. Though my response was meant to be sarcastic, it was also somewhat a honest opinion of mine.
This seems to be a frequent topic of conversation of recent usually prompted by a comment on how actually picking up the phone and calling someone "just to talk" seems to be some weird foreign concept or something our great, great grandparents did back in the "old days."
It's atypical for me to call someone "just to talk." I am without a doubt guilty as charged when it comes to using electronic means to communicate with those I keep company. This is all ironic considering how just a mere four or five years ago making actual phone calls was in fact my primary means of communication -- which was fine by me since I am an uber talkative person.
My first instinct is to blame this all on the acquisition of my iPhone, but I can't say with 100% honesty that is the case. Prior to that purchase, I relied heavily on e-mail and instant messaging for sometime as a means of communication. As D once said to me, "You're an e-mailer." However, it has been since the acquisition of my iPhone, and a bump in messaging capabilities, that I've come to rely more heavily on texting and e-mail rather than a good ol' fashion phone call, to communicate with others.
There are a few people in my life I can count on to call me out on this behavior. Sometimes it's stated quite directly, and other times in a subtle way -- for instance, when Bostonian pointed out the next obvious question I had for him was when was the best time to call since I knew he didn't like carrying on text message conversations. No, that wasn't the next obvious question I had for him, but it was obvious what message he was communicating to me. (And I will admit, instead of calling, I e-mailed "the next obvious question" to him instead of making the phone call I believe he was looking for me to make.)
Over the past couple of months I've tried calling folks more often, "just to talk"; especially my mom and any friend whose preference is an actual phone call. This effort has gotten mixed reaction -- typically my mom's first question is, "What's up?" whereas Bostonian expresses how nice it is of me to call vs. e-mailing or texting. Hopefully overtime the only reaction I'll get is "Hey!"
Ultimately, I hope I'm wrong about the fate of verbal communication. Despite my day-to-day actions, I do believe it is, on so many levels, an important skill to have. Also, verbal communication is much more personal, and less alienating and isolating. No, I'm not a psychologist, but I don't think you need to be one to see that that though electronic communication can aide in fostering relationships, it also fosters habits that are negative such as alienation and isolation.
Also, who in the world wants a large forefinger and shriveled larynx? Gosh, I hope this consequence (that was suggested by my friend) doesn't come to be... how funny would we all look with over developed index fingers? I'm also kind of fond of my voice box. (Remember, I DO in fact like to talk despite evidence that suggests otherwise.)