According to data released by analytics firm Flurry, Americans are using mobile devices 5 hours a day, an increase of 20% since 2015. But very little of that time is spent using our phones to call people.
In Britain, 27% of mobile users use their phones for making calls less than once a week, according to a poll by mobiles.co.uk. Among the top 10 uses for mobile devices were teting, Facebook, camera use, looking up the weather, banking, and Whatsapp.
It seems that the art of conversation – whether by phone or in person – is being usurped by text messaging apps and facial expressions are swapped for the plethora of emojis available on various texting platforms. We can, at least, rejoice in the knowledge the Whatsapp recently rolled out over a dozen new female emojis, allowing women to finally express themselves with a pink “facepalm” when they feel the need.
While telephonobia is real – a deep and sometimes debilitating fear of talking by phone – most young adults today simply don’t have practice using the phone and end up feeling intimidated.
It’s easy to make excuses, and some of them are good ones. With so many con artists trying to steal bank information, for example, wouldn’t we rather let their call go to voicemail so we can check out their credentials rather than being caught off guard in a conversation with a pro? And of course texting has the advantage of being less intrusive but still achieving immediate results. People in meetings can answer a text message but rarely step outside to take a call.
There are times, however, when making a call can provide nuance that text messaging simply cannot convey. Voice modulation and intonations are lost in the world of texting. Sarcastic comments might be taken as sincere, or sincere comments written off as jokes.
To be sure, texting abilities and social media platforms have made vast contributions in both social and work-related fields. We can work better and faster and stay connected away from our desks. But we shouldn’t be too quick to do away completely with good old fashioned phone calls.
Practicing phone conversational skills is important for anyone in a professional setting and can give an advantage over competitors who are unwilling to pick up the phone.