December 27, 2011

We Don’t Talk Anymore

by

I see them sitting at Starbucks, out at restaurants, and even walking together. People on their smart phones texting, tweeting, facebooking, emailing, checking in on some app. Sending email instead of picking up the phone. Using instant messaging instead of calling. Teens today don’t want to talk to their friends. Parents text so the kids can’t hear the conversation. LOL doesn’t require any actual laughing. Talk has been replaced by text.

The power of the human voice is amazing. At birth, we greet our newborn and hope they turn toward us recognizing our voice. The voice we’ve lovingly spoken words of love and joy and hope with while they’ve grown inside our bellies. The voice our husband has whispered his love and excitement to the unborn baby waiting for just the right moment to appear.

But now, we sit in silence. Communicating in silence. Using shortcuts so we don’t even have to write all the words. Leaving out punctuation because even that has become a hassle. Emoting rather than actually having emotions.

When was the last time you actually spoke on the phone for pleasure? I used to call my friends and family all the time. Now, not so much. I truly can’t imagine having the relationship with my mother and grandmother had it not been for our talking. And I don’t think I’d be friends with some of the people I am friends with if we relied solely upon shorthand texting or a few lines of an email to nurture our friendship.

There is something so primitive in the connection we make with our voices. Parents of children who don’t speak often lament that bond of the spoken word with their children. Adults who’ve had strokes and have lost their ability to speak or have limited speech feel their world become smaller to some degree. Sure, technology has opened a huge world to those who can not speak. And I don’t mean to take anything away from that amazing experience.

What I am talking about is that basic level of communication we as humans have relied up for thousands of year. The inflection, the rise and fall of sound, the speed, the cadence. The understanding how someone feels, their emotions, just by the sound of the words spoken. It’s not so much the words that are, in fact, spoken. Instead it’s the feelings we get from hearing the words being said.

A friend texting you “I’m fine” may lead you to actually believe things are OK. But on the phone or face to face you hear the tremble in their voice. You know that they’re not fine. Whether they want to talk about it is something altogether different. But, knowing it’s not fine means you can reach out and offer support. With a text or tweet or email we’ll just move on.

But it’s not just the challenging times that are important. Sharing joy is, well, such a joy! It’s great to let people know you’re excited for them. Hearing it and holding that memory is priceless. “It’s a Gir”l just doesn’t have that same level of excitement when it comes across your phone as when you hear the words on the other end of the phone.

We call it an iPhone or SmartPhone but the phone is the least used part of it. I think that’s a shame.

I have a friend who hates to text or email. She actually calls me. Not all that often, but when she does I put everything on hold and we chat. It’s rarely ever anything earth shattering. But just hearing her laugh, or listening to the sadness in her voice as she tells me something difficult connects us on a level that I don’t think words alone can.

And I know that the written word can bring people together. The person I call my sister started out as my penpal when we were tweens. 35 years later we’re more like sisters than just friends. While the first few years we relied on letters, it was those first phone calls when we got to hear each other’s voice that made the bond stronger.

I love hearing my friends’ voices. Whether it’s on phone or even Skype, which is an added bonus if we can do video so I can see them too, the added dimension of voice really lends something to the personal connection. Many of us use the phone to speak to our older relative, but I challenge you to actually pick up the phone and call people. Even at work, when an email might be just fine, pick up the phone. Sometimes just hearing someone else’s voice is all we need. Just like when we were children.

So, who do you think you’ll call today?

 

Image Credit: Michal Marcol/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Sara

{ 10 comments }

An Authentic Life December 27, 2011 at 9:26 am

Oh, how true Sara!!
I was just lamenting about this same thing recently. Lucky for me, I have one friend that I actually chat with on a regular basis. And there really is nothing like hearing her sweet voice. Can’t get that in a text!
Hope you had a lovely Christmas! Happy 2012!

Sara December 28, 2011 at 10:12 pm

I think we all have those friends to whom we could talk for hours … about nothing and everything.

shifra December 27, 2011 at 11:14 am

calling you right this second! 🙂

Sara December 28, 2011 at 10:12 pm

And every time I take the call!

Diane Brogan December 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Beautifully written and so very true. The only communication that replaces a phone call is face to face. It only takes a few minutes to pick up the phone and call. It can make a world of difference to a person.

Sara January 1, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Diane, I am always amazed at how much joy I feel when a friend calls. Even if I can’t take the call at that moment it swells my heart. It truly does make a difference.

perfectlypeg December 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face as I know the profound nature of your words, but I also know the reality of today’s world. You see, I am ill and have been isolated for 13 years. The people who know I am alive are counted on one hand. I have been forced to live in a world that really doesn’t want to know I am still here or the patience to deal with someone ill. I feeel like I am this contrasting force by which every person I come in contact with has this choice to either connect or disconnect. That my life exists to be available for which others are able to come to an awareness of their choices. Needless to say thirteen years ago I believed in the compassion of mankind, but have since been shown otherwise. In fact the number of times I have been shown a lack of effort has been more times than anyone has made an effort. But then I can see how the extreme nature of some of the things that has occurred has shown me the path to see them for what they really are. I only want to tell you that everything that happens tomorrow is not as it seems. If it promotes any sort of disconnection through material ease, it is a smoking gun.
But if I try to share what is really happening out in the world, I am only greeted with sighs and discounted as insignificant. I am not seen as a viable part of society once I became disabled. I am saddened that I have not been able to inspire anyone to make the effort required to reach out, to see how their “busyness” is just a screen they put up to avoid human contact. I went out to my yearly restaurant outing a few months back and as we were walking up to the front door there were about six people sitting on the outside ledge waiting for their name to be called. They were all on their phone with their thumbs moving like mad across that tiny screen. They reminded me of an image I have in my head of the highways of this country and the long line of telephone lines strung up. And how the birds sit on the telephone lines taking a break from their flight. Is that what we have become? Birds on a wire, able but unwilling to connect to another of our species? What will really break your heart is if you fully understand that none of this is about one minor conversation. But when one thing disconnects, a hundred things disconnect and things change in such a unexplainable way that none of life looks “normal” anymore. Even isolated I have seen such changes that I know life will not be the same for my granchildren. It is because once the conversation stops, or in our case now, becomes just pieces of slogans and slang phrases, the ability to know the meaning of the true human condition becomes blurred and medicine becomes able to transplant hearts and minds, but will then reject efforts to help these people to live any kind of decent life. As technology grows to the pace of being unable to keep up with it’s advances, we will begin to lose the other ways in our life that we were able to connect. We start making trade offs, but realize that we never agreed to the trade offs that are made. Life is forced upon us in doses that we cannot handle or find it too hard to even try. Texting is a way to escape while still being able to have an excuse that we are still there. We do not give explainations anymore, but rather are a sea of excuses and the products we use are the ones that enable us to harvest the excuses. Want to know what I miss? The simplicity of not being able to set that blinking 12:00 time on the VCR.
Perfectly Peg

Sara January 1, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Perfectly Peg, you have such a gift in your writing. I’m sorry you are unable to get around as well as you have in the past. And having known people who have dealt with illness as well as my own traumas, I know that it can be isolating. I’m struggling with that right now as a wonderful friend is dying of cancer and I feel helpless. I do call her, but at the same time don’t want to be a pest with my calls. I know she’s at treatment or tired or using those few precious moments of feeling great with her family.

Thank you for visiting and sharing your story. I hope that soon your phone will ring and fill your heart with joy.

fairygirl December 30, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Well Perfectly Peg……you certainly don’t have any limitations to articulate the written word! I found what you had to say so profound that I read it twice. I too am disabled and understand how you feel. The nature of my disabilities and much of the medicine I’m on makes it very hard for me to express myself like I use to but I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed your comments.

Sara January 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Fairygirl,

Thank you for visiting and sharing your comment and support for Peg. Being unable to express ourselves like we have does create challenges. I’m glad you have the internet and the ability to write and read blogs because even though calling is important, connecting with others if calling is not an option is still important too.

My best to you!

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