Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Verbal Vomit


I went visiting teaching with my companion Sunday morning.  Together we visited with two different women in our ward.  Lots of fun and interesting conversation.  But when I left the second house and drove back home I found myself restless and uncomfortable.  After looking at the feeling for a few minutes I realized what my problem was.

Verbal Vomit.  You know, (or you may not, if you’re lucky) the feeling where you have just been talking out of control, telling anything and everything that has been on your mind?  One of my sisters and I have talked about this before—the feeling of watching yourself talk and wanting to stop but not being able to.  The ability to carry on an interesting conversation is a gift, but when that gift spins out of control it’s not very comfortable.

And that is what happened to me Sunday morning.


As I thought about it later I realized that I probably knew why it happened.  Last week was busy.  I realized that I probably hadn’t talked on the phone all week.  Usually I talk every week at least once with my sisters and my friend, but not last week.  (Oregon’s hands free cell phone law is killing me—I can’t find my headset again!)

So now I know that those phone calls are even more important than I knew.  They’re not just about my sanity and ability to feel connected to the people I love, they’re also to protect the people I’m around!



Interestingly enough, for over a year now I’ve thought about writing a blog post about telephone calls.  (Instead I’ve blogged about job loss, house-fixing, moving, and learning to love a new place.)  About 18 months ago the New York Times ran a piece called Don’t Call Me, I Won’t Call You.  It broke my heart to read it.  The article told that telephone use among adults is decreasing sharply, and the expectation is that texting will surpass phone use by adults within three years.  (And since this was a year and a half ago, you’d better get your phone calls now while you can!)  Here is an excerpt from the article

“I literally never use the phone,” Jonathan Adler, the interior designer, told me. (Alas, by phone, but it had to be.) “Sometimes I call my mother on the way to work because she’ll be happy to chitty chat. But I just can’t think of anyone else who’d want to talk to me.” Then again, he doesn’t want to be called, either. “I’ve learned not to press ‘ignore’ on my cellphone because then people know that you’re there.”

“I remember when I was growing up, the rule was, ‘Don’t call anyone after 10 p.m.,’ ” Mr. Adler said. “Now the rule is, ‘Don’t call anyone. Ever.’ ”

Phone calls are rude. Intrusive. Awkward. “Thank you for noticing something that millions of people have failed to notice since the invention of the telephone until just now,” Judith Martin, a k a Miss Manners, said by way of opening our phone conversation. “I’ve been hammering away at this for decades. The telephone has a very rude propensity to interrupt people.”


Am I the only one saddened by this??

I’ll be the first to admit that my phone usage has morphed over the years.  As a young mother living in a new state, I had a long distance phone budget of $100/month, and it was never enough.  (Can you believe that?  And now that it costs nothing, no one wants to talk.)  I was so lonely and depended on regular phone calls with my mom and sisters to keep me sane.  I needed parenting advice and occasionally marriage advice and at that point the phone or a face-to-face conversation was the only way to get it.  When we moved to North Carolina once again I was in a new place and lonely.  But it wasn’t just that—the telephone was the way I connected with friends and the way I entertained myself as I went through the many mundane drudgeries of my day.  After the triplets were born I would have gone crazy without the telephone.  It was overwhelming for me to try to get out of the house very often, and I depended on conversations with friends to keep me sane.  I will never be able to thank Mindy enough for all of the phone calls when chaos was breaking loose in the background and yet she was still willing to keep talking.  (And for coming up to hang out so often.)  I depended on all of those phone calls. 

The telephone is a little more complicated for me now.  First of all, I find myself in a different time zone from almost everyone in the world I’d like to talk to, which complicates things more than I expected it would.  (Why don’t you want to chat during your dinner?  Or at midnight???)  Second, my life is filled with homeschooling pre-teens who need my attention a lot of the time, which makes it hard to talk on the phone.  And last, my brain just isn’t as young as it used to be and any multi-tasking is difficult.  I used to be the champ of “talking on the phone and almost anything else,” but now I’m only able to do things like make the bed.  Which definitely cuts down on the time I have available to chat.

I’m also much more a fan of texting than I expected to be.  It’s so convenient and so unobtrusive.  I love texting to ask a quick question, to arrange a play date, to touch base easily.  But for the most part, there’s a difference between a conversation and a text.  Sure, let’s conduct as much of our business by text as much as possible.  Let’s touch base via text, send funny thoughts or say I’m thinking of you.  But relationships deserve something better—something more than the 160 characters allowed in a text.


I don’t have all of the answers, though I do have plenty of opinions.  (In fact after having moved across the country I have even fewer answers than before.)  But what I do know is, it’s obvious (for the protection of those around me, if nothing else) that I need to stay connected.  And what’s more, I want to stay connected.  So I’m going to disregard the NYT’s research, and stay with my personal slogan of “You call me, and I’ll call you.”  And if we get stuck in an endless game of phone tag, we’d better keep trying.  Cause I’d hate for Sunday to happen again…

1 comment:

  1. Ugh. Been there, done that! And, I keep wondering why I can't learn my lesson. :)