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Why No One Answers Their Phone Anymore

By The Atlantic

Telephone culture is disappearingRead full story

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  • Colin James  Nagy
    Colin James Nagy Head of Strategy at FRED & FARID

    The phone is a efficient way to get things done. And spares a lot of tap tapping. Plus! Context and human emotion. Everyone shouldn’t be hiding from it.

  • Peter Repucci
    Peter RepucciAssociate at Riverstone Holdings

    I only call (or pick up calls) from a small group of my closest family and friends. Otherwise -- if someone needs to get a hold of me, why not just text? Or if it's for work, email? Or if they're set on the phone option, they'll leave a voicemail. There are so many ways to get in contact with me, going by phone almost feels pushy (or, as suggested below, for emergencies). I hate being caught off guard by an unexpected phone call from an unknown person, so I will almost never pick up the phone.

  • Christina Passarella
    Christina Passarella Project Manager

    Like the author, I have strong memories of the urgency of phone calls, of excitedly checking our caller ID when we first had it added, of waiting for a call from a friend and talking for hours, tying up the line until my mother had to cut me off. Now I don’t even know anyone with a home phone. While the spam and robo-calls are certainly out of control and are a large chunk of the reason why phone calls barely register in my consciousness anymore, I find that I also just don’t like using the phone

    Like the author, I have strong memories of the urgency of phone calls, of excitedly checking our caller ID when we first had it added, of waiting for a call from a friend and talking for hours, tying up the line until my mother had to cut me off. Now I don’t even know anyone with a home phone. While the spam and robo-calls are certainly out of control and are a large chunk of the reason why phone calls barely register in my consciousness anymore, I find that I also just don’t like using the phone to actually talk to people. Perhaps it’s my introverted nature, but a phone call feels more (too?) personal, and it’s not something I enjoy sharing with many people. It’s likely we’re losing something as a culture as a result of this – we’ve lost so many social skills since the rise of smart phones and social media. Still, when my mother calls (or sends that mom text asking that I call her ASAP), my first thought is that something terrible happened. Why else would she call instead of text? It turns out she just hasn’t lost her grip on the phone yet.

  • Over the years I have also found myself avoiding phone calls in favour of texts. But I have tried lately to make a conscious effort to change that. The text cannot convey subtlety and often times I think conflict or stressful situations are caused by misinterpreting texts. There used to be a commercial in Canada from one of the telecommunication companies that said “it’s good to talk“ and I think that’s true.

  • Vidya S.
    Vidya S.

    I admit, I am surprised when my phone actually *rings.* And I typically don't pick up (or call back) before at least Googling the number.

  • Mark  White
    Mark White Founder at White Label Media

    I remember and I think it still happens, one had to say their number and fullname as soon as you picked up in the U.K. —now seems like such a daft waste of words, but that was the cultural norm. I also used to be polite when people rang me at home and tried to sell stuff, ironically, I’m now less polite and x5 more upset when a spammer reaches me on my cell —I always behave as if I’m operating on a patient and took the call because I expected it was a last second call about drugs that could cause

    I remember and I think it still happens, one had to say their number and fullname as soon as you picked up in the U.K. —now seems like such a daft waste of words, but that was the cultural norm. I also used to be polite when people rang me at home and tried to sell stuff, ironically, I’m now less polite and x5 more upset when a spammer reaches me on my cell —I always behave as if I’m operating on a patient and took the call because I expected it was a last second call about drugs that could cause my patient to go into cardiac arrest —8/10 times I just let it ring, avoids drama and bad acting.

  • I'm actually seeing a reverse trend of this in the workplace. Emails and texts can become inefficient at times. At times, it can even promote passive aggressive behaviour. Sometimes it's just a lot easier to pick up the phone.

  • Linh Le
    Linh LeFounder at Bonbouton

    Wow I have to agree with this article. I hardly pick up the home phone... anymore

  • Shanell M
    Shanell M

    I agree that growing up I was always excited to answer the phone. It was an era where grandparents called and we called out grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Now I don’t even answer my phone most of the time unless it’s a rare call from my friends or family members. It’s just easier to text or post on Facebook for them. If it’s a number I don’t know I let it go to voicemail and if they don’t leave a message I usually block the number.

  • Fi Fi
    Fi Fi

    I prefer text, email, or social media conversations for important things vs. phone because it’s easier to have an exact record of what was said. This helps us make sure the facts are accurate.

  • mac curtis
    mac curtis

    I just called to say I love your money, I just called to say I care about your health, I just called to say I love your personal info, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart. do I what! will I what! oh baby you know what I like.

  • Michele Casterlin
    Michele CasterlinSr Sourcing Director at Dow Jones

    Now only if people stopped immediately looking at texts as soon as they arrive

  • Rebecca Diaz
    Rebecca DiazFreelance Writer

    I find I use a mix of phone calls and written communication both in my personal and work life. There are advantages and disadvantages to both; recognizing the best option for the circumstances is the larger problem I see others struggling with.

  • Aileen Cuaresma
    Aileen Cuaresma

    Used to have a landline phone but since mobile phones have been invented we’ve forgotten all about it. It’s more convenient and almost if not all businesses have numerous ways where you can reach them instantly such as emails, social media accounts, etc. and you can do all of this conveniently on your smartphones. Telephones have become somewhat obsolete. Also getting those telemarketing calls is really irritating even if you told them to take you off their list they will still call you after a few

    Used to have a landline phone but since mobile phones have been invented we’ve forgotten all about it. It’s more convenient and almost if not all businesses have numerous ways where you can reach them instantly such as emails, social media accounts, etc. and you can do all of this conveniently on your smartphones. Telephones have become somewhat obsolete. Also getting those telemarketing calls is really irritating even if you told them to take you off their list they will still call you after a few weeks or days. It’s simply not worth it. Plus I rarely knew people these days in my contact list who has one so we just couldn’t bother getting one and the rates are not desirable either.

  • Berthe Morisot
    Berthe Morisot

    Why write when you can type? Why call when you can text? Technologies have always been in flux, whether old or new, for better or for worse.

  • Salvatore Cardile
    Salvatore Cardile

    Is there a charge to join picks ?

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