Thursday, December 1, 2011

Staying Connected

On sort of the other hand from my Communication post of a few weeks ago, (which itself was related to my Disconnecting post from a few days before that), today's ease of electronic communication really does help to stay connected with people, even if it's not via voice-to-voice communication.  Being able to shoot an email to someone and know you're likely to get a quick response to something when they're available to get to it is better than trying to call them on the phone and leaving a message and playing phone tag for 3 days.  And video chat/hangouts/Skype is pretty awesome.  My brother is a big fan and it gives Nate a chance to talk to his Uncle "in person" more frequently than he would otherwise.  It also makes business trips less sad because I can still see my family and talk to them in a more personal way.

Jen and I text and IM frequently throughout the day while I'm at work or while she's at work. We even video chat on occasion. Without that option, we wouldn't be able to speak on the phone with any frequency. Since we only see each other for more than an hour at a stretch 4 days a week, digital communication is the way we stay connected.  We even make big decisions that way such as deciding that we someday want to be foster parents. We did make sure to talk about it in person later that day, but the main part of the discussion happened via instant messages.

I wonder, with all this written communication, if people are forgetting how to speak on the phone.  People who aren't comfortable making phone calls have little need to ever speak to anyone. You can make changes to flights, arrange for gutter or carpet cleaning, troubleshoot problems with your cable box and even order take-out or delivery (all things Jen or I have done recently) without ever having to speak to a person on the phone.  But then on those occasions when you DO need to make a phone call, do you hesitate or just not do it because you're uncomfortable with it?  

I don't have a problem on the phone; I have to make phone calls for my job and have, in fact, become even more comfortable with making the less enjoyable calls for personal stuff because of that.  I wasn't always as comfortable with it but when I lived by myself in grad school, there was no one else to do it.  I tend to make most of the calls in our house because it doesn't bother me.

When we first started using our current babysitter, I used to try to call her to see if she was available. That's how I got my babysitting jobs when I was a kid. I didn't have a cell phone, heck, we probably didn't even have a cordless phone. If I wasn't home, my mom or dad took a message for me or the parents left a message on our answering machine.  But our babysitter was a little slow to get back to us by calling.  So one day, I texted her. I had her cellphone after all.  IMMEDIATE response.  So now I text to arrange babysitting.  And it works VERY well.  I can't complain.  But how comfortable is she on the phone in general?

Will Nate know any phone etiquette by the time he's a teenager?  I was always very polite when I called my friends. I usually got their parents. "Hi, this is Lauren, may I please speak to so-and-so?" Nate won't even have to interact with his friends' parents on the phone because he'll be calling (or texting) his friends directly with their cellphones.  

Or maybe they'll just use the chips in their heads that we'll probably all have by then.


  1. I think the lack of phone skills in our youth is very sad. Everyone of Zander's 9 year old friends already have a cell phone...except him. And he reminds us of that often. I go back and forth about appropriate cell phone age, while Chris says they can get one whe he did, i go back and forth. Because all of his friends have one I know he will always be able to call me if need be, and something can be said for having to figure your way out without mom one call away to always bail you out. I don't know...the answer is there somewhere. I've noticed that it does go beyond the phone, communication skills in general are on the decline and that's scary if you think about it.

  2. I totally agree with the communication skills thing. That's why I've been thinking about it and writing a lot about it lately. That and the way our computers take up a lot of time in our lives when we could be interacting with people in person. I admire you for leaving Facebook and have thought about it once or twice myself.

    On the cell phone age thing, I don't know when we'll let Nate get one. Certainly not at age 3. :) I didn't get one until I was 23.

  3. I've become VERY uncomfortable with the phone. It's kind of ridiculous.