Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The right way to use the phone

There are two kinds of phone people in the world: those who use the phone primarily for communication purposes and those who use it for entertainment purposes.

If you are a communication based phone user you never call someone without a known purpose. You call to set dates, obtain information, or coordinate plans. It never occurs to you to pick up the phone “just to talk.”

Those of you who use it for entertainment also use it for communication, but that’s secondary. You types have a phone on your ear for extended periods of time and, if you don’t believe in call waiting, you can never be reached because your phone is always busy. You call when you’re in the car or bored at home with your kids or shopping.

I’m a communication phone person, and entertainment phone users drive me crazy! When I first realize that a person is calling and that they don’t really have anything to say, I try to be polite. I tell myself they just want some company. Actually, if this is the case and we’re face-to-face versus on the phone, I love spending time with them. I just have no tolerance when it’s over the phone. First of all, it makes my ear sore. Second of all, if they call when I’m in the house I have to stop what I’m doing or else get a crick in my neck from holding the phone with my shoulder so I can continue doing laundry, picking up, or feeding the dog. Today, someone called to “shoot the shit” and I was halfway through blowing up this giant beach ball sprinkler that my kids were anxiously awaiting. I had to put it down and they had to wait an extra twenty minutes until I could graciously get off the line.

The thing that’s the worst about entertainment phone users is, if you try to explain to them that you’re not like them, they get their feelings hurt. They think you just don’t want to talk to them. They can’t comprehend a person that doesn’t enjoy just killing some time talking about the outrageous price of avocados or what happened on American Gladiator yesterday. A lot of them don’t get the clue either when you say, “I really need to hang up now. I have so much to do.” They just keep talking and won’t say goodbye.

I'm trying to teach this concept to my daughter now. She wants to call her best friend all the time and I ask her why. Most of the time she can't tell me so I don't let her call. I'm more than happy to let her invite her friends over or let her go to their houses, though. I will do my best to steer her away from using the phone for entertainment. This is probably not practical with the teenage years looming. I myself was a horrible entertainment phone user in high school. I'm going to keep up the lecturing, though.

I have a number of friends and family who are entertainment phone users. Most of the time, when they call, I just don’t pick up. I figure it’s better to do this than to hurt their feelings and tell them I don’t have time to talk to them right now. I push it as far as I can. Eventually, I have to pick up because they never leave messages (how can they when they’re calling with nothing to say!) and they’ll start to think I’m avoiding them. When I finally pick up I get myself in the mindset that I’m going to have to listen to their purposeless babbling and be patient. They’ll complain and say, “Didn’t you see on your caller id that I’ve been trying to reach you for the past week?” I’ll counter with, “I figured, if it were something important, you’d leave a message. I don’t really look at my calling log.”

They probably think I’m cold and rude but I’m not. Like I said, if I meet them for lunch or a visit at their house or mine, I love to talk about nothing and everything. That’s a time that I’ve blocked out and dedicated to them. I value the relationships I have with them and truly enjoy their company. I just can’t do it on the phone and have no desire to waste entire blocks of my day this way.

Blogging and checking out other’s blogs, on the other hand, is a different story......


Anonymous said...

Is it possible that this is a continuum and not just the two extremes? Maybe the idea is not to eliminate the entertainment aspect, but to respect the phone as a communications device.

Life Junkie said...

You're right that it is a continuum and I definitely don't fall at the very end of the communication spectrum. When people call me with a purpose, we usually end up talking about trivialities as well. There's no harm in that.

The people that I struggle with are those who want to spend extended periods of time talking about nothing. If there's a polite way to tell them to respect these rules of the phone, I'd like to know how....

Anonymous said...

I don't know how many of your friends and family read your blog, but if it's a lot, you are definitely going to start getting fewer and shorter phone calls.
-your upside-down brother.

Life Junkie said...

To my family:

You that read my blog are all good phone-users and don't use the phone for entertainment only.

Calling to catch up on each other's lives because we all live so far from each other IS a purpose and a good reason to call! :)

The Queen said...

You are A STITCH!! I am constantly reminded of why we were so close as children. I miss having a close girl friend. . .are you lucky enough to have an adult friend as close to you as our little group was; as I considered you? I hadn't thought of us as children in a long time but went to a going away party for a friend's daughter who is going to Mexico as a missionary. The spread of food and a beautiful blouse and skirt used as a decoration (in addition to lot's of red, green and white balloons and streamers) reminded me of your parents and the seemingly constant influx of visitors from the south that stayed with you. What an education it was living close to you and the Von Fahnestocks! I think I am the mom I am today because of it.