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Tue, 15th Apr 2014
FYI, this story is more than a year old

When I was a kid and I did something wrong, my mum would ban me from the telephone as a form of punishment.

Once I kicked a whole in the wall and I was banned from the phone for an entire month. It was the worst. I dropped from people’s call lists.

Do you know what that meant for a teenager in highschool? Social suicide. It took me so long to get back on those lists.

Now, I can’t remember the last time I talked to someone on the phone for conversational purposes. I only ever ring people to find out something quickly or if you have to ring around businesses to get quotes. Or order Chinese food. These days, our preferred form on communication is text messaging and emailing, or Facebook messaging.

My big problem with phone calls these days is that you have to drop whatever you are doing in order to talk to the person calling you. They are interrupting you. You have to pause the TV, pause the conversation you’re having, whatever. It’s rather rude, really.

Texting and emailing allows you to control the conversation. You have control over what you say and can reply as quickly as you see fit. You can continue on with whatever you may happen to be doing. You can’t do those things with a phone call.

The telephone conversation is dying a slow, drawn out death. It may never die but it will never recover from the illness that is instant messaging and emailing. Especially among young people who have always texted or used instant messaging, the need to use your phone, landline or mobile, to have long phone conversation is becoming less and less the norm.

While none of this is necessarily surprising, you do have to wonder what affect it has on communication and relationships.

While adults would have already developed their communication skills before cellphones and social media existed, young people have grown up texting and instant messaging everything.

Habitual texters may not only cheat their existing relationships, they can also limit their ability to form future ones since they don’t get to practice the art of interpreting nonverbal visual cues.

Emailing and text messaging allows people to avoid talking to each other when they don’t have to. There have been times when I ignore my phone ringing for absolutely no reason except that I can’t be bothered talking to whoever it is that is ringing me, but I’ll happily text them.

I love emailing my friends all day because it allows you to pack in the same amount of substance a phone call has without having to listen to someone else talk, and you can do something else at the same time. It also allows you to carefully phrase what you want to say, where a phone call gives you barely anytime to think, and you certainly cannot edit.

I guess from here we can either decide to bring back the phone call or let it succumb to its ultimate demise. Whether texting, emailing or instant messaging is your preferred communication tool, the phone call deserves a go every now and then.