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Call me! On the line …

So far today, two people have called me. Another friend texted to find out if it was a good time to talk. A longtime pal checked in by text from Lyon, France to see if we could chat on WhatsApp. Oh, and my friend Cindy came to visit in person. With coffee and scones!

I do have WhatsApp—I’m not a total dinosaur. And of course, I text. What with my caregiving responsibilities, I don’t get out much these days, so I’m thrilled when Ring tells me “There is a person at your front door.”

I tell you all that to say I am not a Luddite or a fuddy-duddy. And … I still like to talk on the phone. (Yes, I use wireless earbuds. I’m not yakking on the princess phone from years back.)

However, there seems to be a generational split going on when it comes to connecting with friends and family. This was the headline in the Washington Post …

“The new phone call etiquette: Text first and never leave a voice mail”

Remember when the phone company used to tell us to reach out and touch someone? Never mind the touching. Even reaching out is now considered rude and intrusive if we don’t text them first.

As WaPo explains, “Calling someone without warning can feel stressful to the recipient.” Instead, we’re supposed to text them to see if it’s a good time to talk or find out when it would be more convenient.

Really? Are you stressed out by a phone call you didn’t expect?

For my part, I’m delighted when my phone rings. If I’m with a client, or taking care of Frank, or, um, indisposed … I don’t answer it. I can always call them back later. It’s great to have a choice. It’s not stressful to make that choice.

And I’m grateful that smart phones let us know who’s calling before we pick up … or before they start leaving a message and the answering machine broadcasts their voice into the room and then we scramble to get over to the phone and grab it. Or not. (Remember those days?)

On the subject of leaving a message …

WaPo says don’t do it: “Voice mails are an artifact of the days before text messages.”

Well, they concede it’s okay to leave a message once in a while. “The exceptions for the no-voice-mail rule are calling people who would love to hear your voice no matter what you’re saying, or sharing some kind of audio experience.”

So, if you’re singing Happy Birthday, it seems voicemail is allowed by the experts. Otherwise, they recommend sending a text or email instead.

If you ask me, the experts are wrong.

Yes, I can read your message faster than I can listen to it; they’re right about that much. And yes, smart phones transcribe voicemail messages. So, it is possible I’m reading it instead of listening to the recording anyway.

And. The tone of your voice adds texture and richness to your words. That texture and richness are lost when we read your words on a small screen instead of hearing them from your lips. Or from the phone’s speaker.

Your tone of voice can even change the meaning of your words, sometimes dramatically. I might read sarcasm into a text that you didn’t intend at all. Or for that matter, I might miss the snarkiness you did mean to convey, if I’m just reading your message.

Many a misunderstanding has started with a text message.

Here’s where I do agree with the Post’s telephone etiquette advice.

Don’t use that speakerphone in public.

Haven’t you been in, say, an office waiting room or an airport lobby, listening to a ridiculously loud conversation about Aunt Zelda’s medical problems or that jerk at the office causing trouble again? We don’t need to hear all that!

The article recommends headphones. And attention to other people’s personal space and your own volume. I’m with ‘em on that one.

And you?

Where do you stand on texting vs. calling? Do you leave a message or just hang up and figure they know you called – they’ll call you back? And how are they supposed to know you called on purpose and it wasn’t a pocket-dial?

You’re welcome to post a comment below or shoot me an email. Or, of course you could call me.

PS: A confession

When I first thought “Call Me,” a song came to mind. It wasn’t Blondie’s ‘80s hit, “Call me (call me) on the line…”

Embarrassingly enough, the song going through my head was “Call me … don’t be afraid, you can call me…” Petula Clark from the ‘60s.