Clive Thompson on the Death of the Phone Call | Magazine
It could be that I'm still a bit telephonophobic for social calls, but it is more likely that the design of the phone call has subconsciously made me choose not to use it for anything where it isn't absolutely necessary.? While I'm on the phone all the time for work, I will almost never call a friend up on a telephone...and some find that weird.? But, this story articulates many of the reasons why I dislike phone calls.
"Consider: 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 Schr?dinger?s box every time, having a conversation to figure out whether it?s OK to have a conversation. Plus, voice calls are emotionally high-bandwidth, which is why it?s so weirdly exhausting to be interrupted by one. (We apparently find voicemail even more excruciating: Studies show that more than a fifth of all voice messages are never listened to.)
The telephone, in other words, 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.
In fact, the newfangled media that?s currently supplanting the phone call might be the only thing that helps preserve it. Most people I know coordinate important calls in advance using email, text messaging, or chat (r u busy?). An unscheduled call that rings on my phone fails the conversational Turing test: It?s almost certainly junk, so I ignore it. (Unless it?s you, Mom!)
Indeed, I predict that as this sort of hybrid coordination evolves, it will produce a steep power law in the way we use voice calls. We?ll still make fewer, as most of our former phone time will migrate to other media. But the calls we do make will be longer, reserved for the sort of deep discussion that the medium does best."