Are Unexpected Phone Calls Rude?

Are Unexpected Phone Calls Rude?

Gregory Han
Mar 23, 2011

The New York Times recently ran a piece titled, "Don't Call Me, I Won't Call You", which immediately resulted in a few friends (and my own girlfriend) forwarding me the piece all throughout last week. I'm notoriously the type who dislikes talking on the phone, preferring email, IM, smoke signals, interpretive dance communication…anything but talking on the phone. It's one of the reasons why it has been oh-so-easy to live without one. But we're wondering if this is a generational characteristic, since parents and older friends still seem to love using good ole voice to communicate…

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."

We wouldn't go as far as the description above, describing phone calls as "rude" seems a little extreme considering the act of owning a phone is inviting others to call you. But we do find them disruptive from the perspective of a work day and do agree most of our peers now tend to message or email before calling, to make sure it's okay (an ironic polite nicety of behavior, considering cell phone cultures otherwise disregard for social manners).

We rely on voice mail and caller ID, mostly because our ringer is off and Skype notifies us by email when a message or call has been missed (and since most friends tend to tell us when they plan to call, we're usually ready to pick up). The only person which many of these screening tactics do not apply to? Dear mom.

How about you? Have you refrained from using the phone for actual phone calls? Why or why not? We're curious if this is a generational shift indicative of the wide adoption of email, IM and text messaging.

(Image: Flickr member Yume Photo licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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