Telephone without a cause

Telephone without a cause

Clive Thompson on reasons the telephone call deserves to die:

If I suddenly decide I want to dial you up, I have no way of knowing whether you’re busy, and you have no idea why I’m calling. We have to open Schrödinger’s box every time, having a conversation to figure out whether it’s OK to have a conversation.

As a non-phone person, I message, text, or email before making most personal calls (although there are exceptions). These predictive meta-conversations no longer seem extra, but a new step in the rules of etiquette.

In other words:

The telephone … doesn’t provide any information about status, so we are constantly interrupting one another. The other tools at our disposal are more polite. Instant messaging lets us detect whether our friends are busy without our bugging them, and texting lets us ping one another asynchronously. (Plus, we can spend more time thinking about what we want to say.) For all the hue and cry about becoming an “always on” society, we’re actually moving away from the demand that everyone be available immediately.

Smart suggestions from Clive on what could save the telephone, speaking partly to what was covered in the smart conversation over at Dan Benjamin’s The Conversation last week. More talk, less phone.