Three Words You Never Hear Any More
I grew up in a family of seven children, and whenever the telephone rang in our house, you could hear seven voices chime out simultaneously: “I’ll get it!” Following this was always a race to see who could manage to pick up the receiver first and say that special word: “Hello?”
In our house it was a privilege to answer the telephone. We didn’t have cell phones back then. We didn’t have an answering machine, either, so there was no screening of the calls being received. Hard as it is to believe, we actually wanted to know who was on the other end of the line calling us. We never allowed a telephone call to go unanswered. But today it seems that the words: “I’ll get it” are three words that you never hear anymore.
With the birth of the answering machine and the ability to screen calls, it is practically unheard of to answer a call without first checking to see who is calling. And how many of us have land lines anymore? Today most of us own cell phones, a modern convenience which allows us to receive our calls anywhere at any time. But in many instances we’re not even talking on our phones because often we prefer texting to talking. Yes, modern technology has certainly changed our attitude towards the telephone. And I wonder: Has it been for the better?
As a matter of fact, I did not own a cell phone until a couple of years ago. I’ve been unable to work for the past eleven years due to medical disabilities which has kept me homebound, and so my husband felt that I didn’t need a cell phone; after all, I had the land line available to me. After an emergency arose, it became apparent that I did need a cell phone, and so finally (as my children so aptly put it) “I stepped into the 21st century.” They pointed out to me that a cell phone was better than a land line because of the texting feature. With texting, I’d be able to communicate faster and easier with people because sometimes it’s “inconvenient” to talk on the phone. At least, this was the way that it was explained to me by them.
But it seems to me that it’s more difficult than ever to get hold of people, even my own children! Well, is it just me or does everyone have this problem? I text, I leave messages, and often I never hear back from the people I call or text. It’s so frustrating not to be able to get hold of other people. And I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been with others who have simply ignored their cell phones when they’ve been ringing, and I think: Aren’t you going to answer that?
I think that the other problem with the cell phone age is texting. I know what you’re going to say because I’ve heard it from my own children. Yes, it is convenient, and yes, it is quick. But what about our communication skills? I’m talking about good old-fashioned talking, one-to-one voice communication. I’m talking about a verbal exchange between two people. There can be problems with texting. Many times you really can’t express all that you need to express in the printed word, such as the tone of your voice or the way you emphasize a certain word. Now I realize that you can place a smiley face or some other emoticon in your text message, but is it really the same as “hearing” the smile in someone’s voice when they’re talking, or listening to them laugh? What about when they’re feeling sad or worried? Can you really express those feelings in a text message? I truly don’t believe that you can.
I know that technology is here to stay, and I’m all for it because we’re supposed to evolve and become better. But maybe we should start thinking about being a bit more considerate of each other when we use it. After all, it’s supposed to help us, not harm us. Maybe we should use a bit of common sense and think about whether it’s better to text or to actually talk on the phone depending on the situation. And I always plead with my children: Please check your messages and call people back.
And for heaven’s sake, don’t be afraid to say: “I’ll get it.”