(Originally published February 16, 2006 on MySpace)
So it’s been a while since my last blog entry. I know I was planning to use this as a way for y’all to keep up with what’s been going on with me but I really wasn’t sure you needed or wanted to read the details regarding my delightful recent bout with the stomach flu.
So…on to other things. Once again I’m both inspired and intimidated by the other blogs I’ve been reading. I was struck with extreme envy the other day while reading a blog by one woman who says she never seems to run out of things to talk about in conversations with others. How I wish that was me. It should have been me. My grandmother was one of those women. She could happily carry on an animated conversation for hours with a doorknob. No joke!! No matter where she went – grocery store, hairdresser, nursery, square dancing – she could make at least three new friends before leaving the building. We used to marvel at her amazing ability to pull this off so effortlessly.
Then the other day I read a story where a man described his father as being “so shy that if the phone rang, he would panic if he had to talk for more than a minute” before handing the phone over to his wife. That made me laugh, because I can remember my grandfather doing the same thing. “Hello? Hey. Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Here, I’ll let you talk to..” as he hastily handed the phone over to my grandmother, who would settle in for a nice long chat. Obviously, in this respect, they were quite well suited, each playing to the other’s predispositions.
I personally consider it a great loss that I missed inheriting those “chatty” genes. Instead I seem to have developed a strangely debilitating disease known as “phone-o-phobia”. Oh, I don’t mind using the phone for business or to obtain or share needed information. I’ll even be sociable while doing so. But using the phone for purely social purposes? That’s like drinking castor oil for pleasure. I avoid it like the plague. And I think that some men (those who aren’t painfully shy themselves and looking for a woman to take over their own phone duties) might consider this trait to be a highly desirable one in a woman. Consider just some of the benefits:
1) I don’t have high phone bills.
2) I don’t ignore my guy because I’m too busy chatting up my girlfriends on the phone.
3) My guy doesn’t have to sit and wait with his finger on the pause button of the movie because the phone rang and I simply HAVE to know who it is/get the latest phone gossip.
4) I don’t embarrass anyone with “TMI” conversations on cell phones in the middle of the grocery store.
5) I don’t pester my guy to call me three times a day to “check in”.
6) I don’t take annoying cell phone calls in the middle of an intimate dining experience.
So it’s true – there are LOTS of good reasons NOT to use phones for social interactions. I’m sure I could come up with even more if I thought about it long enough (or had more experience with actually using phones!) The day I finally got an answering machine was a huge weight off my shoulders. The day I could actually comfortably “let the machine get it” even when I was home was a huge step towards personal liberty. I’d live without phones entirely – except to keep them handy in case of emergencies - if I could get away with it.
I’ve tried to figure out why it is that I dislike phones so much. I think the biggest reason is that – for me, and I suspect for most people – so much of a conversation takes place in body language and facial expression. When I’m on the phone, I feel like I’m only getting HALF of the conversation, because I can’t see the person I’m talking to!! The other difficulty for me is that when you’re on the phone, an immediate verbal response is required. When you’re talking with someone face to face, you can convey your interest, sympathy, understanding (or lack thereof) with a look or a gesture. You can also convey, with an expression or gesture, that you’re genuinely thinking about what the person said and trying to formulate the best response. When you’re on the phone, you’re on the spot to verbalize everything, immediately. I don’t like that. In fact, I hate it. I confess – part of the reason is because I am your typical anal-retentive perfectionist, and if I can’t do (or say) something right (perfect) the first time, I don’t want to do it at all, dammit!!! (But that’s a topic for another blog…another day!)
Sometimes I just want to be silent and think about what I want to say back to the other person, but if you’re silent on the phone, the other person will immediately jump to conclusions (usually the wrong ones) about what your silence means. (i.e you’re not interested, you disagree, you dislike something they said, you’re sleeping, etc.) I don’t like being pressured, nor do I like being misunderstood or having someone presume something about me. Not to mention the fact that a lot of the time – especially with these cursed cell phones – I can’t even understand half of what’s being said (let alone decipher tone-of-voice) over the crappy, tinny little speaker – so how can I know what to reply? It gets tiring – for both parties -having to say “What? What?” all the time. So I much prefer face-to-face interaction. And if I can’t have that, then I much prefer to write. At least with writing I can take the time to think about what I want to say, and make my best effort to have my words be correctly understood. (I may not always succeed, but at least I can try!)
Still, there are times when the people in your lives tend to feel unloved if you never call them….or return their calls. So I want to take this opportunity to let all those folks know – it’s not you! Truly!! It’s that blasted, infernal, impersonal piece of half-baked equipment known as a phone!!
Having said all that, I don’t mind getting phone calls. And I will return your call, really I will! It’s not that I don’t want to hear from you, not that I don’t think of you, not that I don’t want to get in touch! But I much prefer making plans to get together in person (usually via e-mail) – or writing/getting a nice long chatty letter. Hey, if you’re someone who has EVER gotten a voluntary or social phone call from me –don’t doubt it for a moment — YOU’RE SPECIAL. My brain just tends to want to deny the existence of the phone. Voluntarily thinking “Hm, I think I’d like to make a phone call” is about as natural to me as voluntarily thinking “Hm, I think I’d like to get a root canal!” And yes, I realize that to other people, that just sounds downright weird. It’s only one of many things about me and my personal preferences that people often find to be quite strange. But like I said….that’s a topic for another blog….