- In 1996 I flossed like I was getting paid to make Herbie the Elf proud.
- In 2004 I reduced arriving late to class by 15%.*
- In 2010 I hit the gym 168 times.
However, two weeks into 2012, I’m already sucking it up at one of my resolutions: to get better at talking on the phone. So far I’ve ignored 8 phone calls, waited an average of 3 days to check my voice mail, and avoided calling 2 people back. I can’t just blame this problem on “not being a phone person”; my middle-school days of hogging the phone line and the $300 cell phone bills I accidentally racked up a few times as a teenager suggest otherwise.
Yet the years from adolescence to adulthood have slowly killed my phone skills. I rarely call up people just to chat anymore. I even hesitate to call and make doctor’s appointments if I can do it online instead. I’m not anti-social, introverted, or phobic of interaction with human beings. So what’s wrong here?
In naming a culprit, I can’t help but blame the Internet. Since it came along with its flashy AOL instant messenger (around 6th grade), MySpace (not cool anymore but still), and Facebook, my phone time has gone from nightly fix to Facebook message supplement to “I don’t want to intrude on people” endangered-species watch.
Now that everything’s so instant-messagy up in here, the immediacy of talking on the phone makes me nervous. When I communicate online or by text, I have a cushion of time to think up a response in conversation. If a friend makes a joke about a political reference I don’t get or a movie I’ve never seen, I can hit Wikipedia before writing a clever message back and no one’s the wiser (come on, we all do it). With in-person conversation, that’s not an option, but at least I can gauge a person’s reactions by their body language. It’s not nearly as intimidating as the dark abyss of the phone.
Even if email is ubiquitous and we use our phones more for texting and Angry Birds (or Bubble Bash demo) than chitchat, I know my phone avoidance is bad news. Talking on the phone still counts as one of those life skills necessary for negotiating with customer service people, networking in the so-called “business world,” and generally appearing socially competent. I can’t keep using the internet as a crutch. I need to fix this.
Progress updates forthcoming.
If you suck at the phone, do you blame the Internet, too?
*Okay, I made that one up.