One of the things I get crap about all the time is the fact that I never answer my cell phone. "Why didn't you answer?" is something I'm always hearing from the kids or the ex-wife or the someday mother-in-law, usually in a slightly offended tone, as if I took one look at the name of the person calling and pushed my phone away, cackling out gleefully, "As if!"
Truth is, during the day, I keep my phone on vibrate because the sound of it pinging every five seconds due to all the email I get is enough to drive me crazy (but not enough to get me to vote Republican). Plus, it's annoying for the guy at work who sits behind me, who puts the mudge in the word curmudgeon. Him, I don't want to annoy. Then, at night, I forget to turn it back on to "noise" mode, so I can never hear it when someone calls, because I have this weird thing about having stuff touch my body, like rings or watches or, well...cell phones. So, I usually place it by the record player (yes, record player. They're back in style, right?) and forget about it.
This is why I was so gratified last night, to be driving home from Boston and hear the following exchange between Google executive Rick Schmidt and Gwen Ifill:
SCHMIDT: It's always alarming to me that people text message. They don't talk on the phone anymore. And people actually have forgotten how to leave voice messages on phones. It's sort of shocking, right?
GWEN IFILL: They have forgotten how to check them as well.
ERIC SCHMIDT: That's right.
Yep, that's me all over. Given the choice between sending a text message and having to be forced to actually engage in verbal intercourse, I'll take the text message, each and every time.
And also, what's the point of a voice message, I ask you, in this day and age? Most people I know have phones that clearly indicate who it was who called you, unless it's a bill collector or someone you don't know.
Now, if it is a bill collector or someone you don't know, by all means, leave a message. But otherwise, why do I need to bother listening to a message? I'd much rather just send a text message asking, "What's up?"
I don't miss it, either. Voice mails are not things that I shall sigh wistfully over and mourn the passage of, unlike the lost art of letter writing or the charming smell of burned wood on your clothing in the days when we used to communicate by smoke signal. Ah, those were the days. Even carrier pigeons have a certain charm, if you're into birds (dirty, disgusting, filthy, lice-ridden boids).
Not voicemails. I always hated leaving them...never know what to say, so I always try to be clever, and I'm sure, more than not, fall flat. And most voicemails are a trial to sit through and listen. The only one that really sticks in my head that's ever been worth keeping was one where boss called and forgot he was leaving me a message, mid-call, because one of his sons chewed the leg off of another son's Barbie doll.
Listening to my boss yell at his kid was kind of entertaining, i have to admit. I could just see him waving the amputated Barbie doll in his son's face, screaming with anger. Have to admit, I did keep the message around for months, just because it brought a smile on my face.
Also, some answering machine messages were kind of fun to listen to, too, in the dinosaur days of answering machines. Those days are long gone. Goner than records, apparently. No one leaves cute messages any more for you to snicker over. We're all far more serious, far more corporate, far more boring, than THAT.
So, sure, count me in as one of those who has gleefully ditched the practice of actual phone conversations and voicemail messages. Does that make me less the social guy I once was?
Perhaps. I suppose. Yes, yes it does.
However! All that time saved does gives me more time to play "Words with Friends" on Facebook! And that's...well, kind of social, right? Hey, a guy's got to have his priorities.