Sunday, October 26, 2014

Conversing by Text, Old Fashioned Voice Mail or Across a Dinner Table

How to begin this post? I am basically writing a personal essay here, using an antique relic of a medium in which to talk about texting, voicemail, email and Facebook, all of these versus old fashioned  face-to-face conversations. Once again, I find that our ages and stages in life really do make differences in how we like to communicate with those we love.
Every day, I see young people - folks under 45 years of age -  holding smart phones with both hands, thumbs rapidly, and I assume accurrately, skimming the screen as they communicate with friends. They are all seemingly and effortlessly in tune with one another.
At a supper party a night ago, six long time women friends and I - all in our 70s - conversed in person around a dinner table and every one voiced a preference for speaking to family and friends 'in person'. Or by simply picking up the telephone for a visit or to leave voice mail.
BTW, my friends also had a strong preference for reading the daily newspaper - that would be on newsprint and delivered to their doorstep. I do still have a subscription to the NYT that is delivered to my door, but I mentioned that I also had apps on my iPhone for the Houston Chronicle and the NYT News and Opinion pages. They were unmoved, saying, "When I turn pages, I see articles that I'd never otherwise read." Me too, but it happens with app versions when I scroll.
Three generartions watch a family video, loaded on DropBox via a cloud. Just saying.
But back to email and voice mail with the young, or younger. Three times in the last seven days, I've witnessed these two methods of communication stalled or ignored.
A week ago, I made an appointment on Facebook with a younger artist and when I attempted to confirm our get-together with a phone call, there was a message, "I'll get back to you much faster if you text me." I did text and she did respond, instantly.
I noted that this artist is much like my eldest daughter, who declared several years ago that she doesn't talk on the phone any more, or email except for business. I follow her goings-on by way of Facebook and I text her when I want an answer. I confess that on occasion we do have long phone conversations, but only when kids are away or asleep and there are no classes or work or soccer games or whatever. I confess that I miss my daughters dreadfully and that sometimes only a phone call or a trip to the Pacific Northwest will do.
Back to texting as this moment's premier communication medium. Ten days ago, Earl emailed a young collector who'd expressed interest in visitng his studio. Earl emailed him, asked if he'd like to come and assist in rearranging a few paintings. Finally, yesterday he got an answer, "Wow, I haven't checked my emails for a while. Sorry. Maybe we can get together next weekend?"
Then there was that interview on NPR's Marketplace titled 'Voicemail not being used by our kids anymore.' And  Leslie Horn's article on GIZMDO titled 'You're Wrong About Voicemail'. Horn writes that for years she told her mom not to leave voicemails. Until her dad dies suddenly and folks begin to leave her lots of voice mail and she realizes that 'voice mail is the default archive of your life…I have voicemails I've saved for years on my phone. I have a few I loved so much I uploaded to SoundCloud so there's no chance I'll delete them…here's the universal truth: Sometimes, it's just good to hear someone's voice…texting is fine, but it takes effort to pick up the phone…Voicemail can be annoying. Unnecessary, sometimes…But I also know that you would miss voicemail if it were gone."  So there.
I've written about this all before, when I used to blog for Deep South Moms. Here's a link to what I said a few years ago about using new mediums for communicating with my daughters: Texting Our Hearts Out, OK, OK.
I am still sorting things out and my conclusions are that each of us, no matter how old or young must be conversant in many mediums. I mean, isn't it true that most of us joined Facebook to keep up with our grandchildren? And we text to keep up with our children? And we email and leave voice mails for friends of our own generation?

P.S. Click on those phrases in green print to read the articles I reference.

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