Recently, I got into a conversation with some other women here at BuzzFeed about talking on the phone. The consensus: no one does it, unless they're catching up with an old friend.
"If someone calls me out of the blue, I immediately think someone died or got dumped," was a common refrain.
That's how I learned that I'm an anomaly – a woman in her early twenties who still gabs on the phone like I'm in a 1980s teen movie. I indulge in marathon phone conversations like others do in chocolate binges. Long phone calls give me peace and solace and an escape, the way I imagine long runs do for runners.
My co-workers aren't alone in their anti-phone ways. Apparently hating on the phone is a big ol' cultural trend. Who knew?! I guess I've been oblivious for some time.
Pamela Paul wrote in a 2011 New York Times story: "It’s at the point where when the phone does ring — and it’s not my mom, dad, husband or baby sitter — my first thought is: 'What’s happened? What’s wrong?' My second thought is: 'Isn’t it weird to just call like that? Out of the blue? With no e-mailed warning?'"
And there's data to back it up: a recent study found that minutes spent on the phone have been on the decline in the United States and Europe for the past four years.
The whole idea that people don't talk on the phone these days was a surprise, because, well, I'm not spending all those hours on the phone with myself — I talk to a number of my closest friends, every few days at least, often for an hour or more. I talk on the phone so much that my Mom bought me a big old-fashioned receiver that I can plug into my iPhone so that I don't get brain cancer. Despite my passion for the phone, I don't have a landline. (Come on, I need to keep some of my typical millenial-ness intact.)
But I began to worry: Was I the only person people were talking to on the phone? Were my friends indulging my crippling need, the way you agree to go out and take tequila shots after a friend gets dumped – you don't really want to, but you're a good friend and you just sort of have to? Was I forcing them onto the phone?
I surveyed my close phone pals — calling them to do so, of course — to see if they also talk on the phone to others.
Guess what? They do. Like me, my three very close phone pals (none of whom are close friends with one another) talk to their mothers, their significant others and their other friends, at about the same rate I do. They agreed with me about the restorative power of a long phone call about nothing before bed. They agreed — talking on the phone is better than watching TV and easier than meeting up for drinks. Some things, we concurred, just can't be discussed and properly dissected over email or IM. Sometimes, it's a weighty topic like a relationship or a family matter that we need to talk about, but other times, we just want to talk about work or tell the story of a funny night out or consider why those two people are still together or debate how many more years so and so will last in New York or ponder why that other person finally moved to LA.
They're not topics I'd spend my workday IMing about, and finding the resources — both of time and money — to meet up in person to ruminate on these topics just isn't reasonable.
The reality is that Phone People gravitate to one another — and as we become friends, we begin to talk frequently on the phone with each other. As we talk more and more on the phone, we become even closer friends, and before you know it, we Phone People have unintentionally curated a set of Phone People friends. It is a symbiotic kind of relationship. So if you want to be my close pal, better pony up for unlimited phone minutes on your mobile plan.