The other day, my phone stopped taking incoming calls. I didn’t notice or feel the impact until someone texted me to ask why I wasn’t picking up the call they had just IMed me that they were going to make.
I’ll give you a moment to absorb that last sentence, which is factually correct.
So much is written about how social media is ruining in person manners. That the art of wit and banter are being slowly killed. I disagree. This debate broke out in a text exchange, admittedly, with my friend Nick Howell, over this blog post. Then I thought about my buddy Brian Katz’s excellent post, Good Vibrations.
Perhaps our community, the high tech one, differs from other communities or tribes in that we use social media to connect during the off-season (when we’re not at the same conferences or events), to educate and learn, AND to instagram our breakfast.
Texts, DMs, IMs, Tweets, status updates, and other short-form copy provide a quick hit of human interaction in a day filled with bits, bytes, and/or powerpoint. The medium plays to the strengths of the quiet and the introverted. Meeting quiet people on their turf makes real life engagement that much better.
Written communications provide a means for communicating with many people at once, even privately at the same time. That is a blessing and a curse, but a reality none the less. It scales in a way phone calls can’t, which means phone calls are often reserved for particularly special or challenging moments.
The kids these days don’t make phone calls, though the digital natives do Skype, Facetime, and Vine with the best of them. Here’s my nonscientific guide to the age brackets:
32 years old and < = Don’t Call Me
33 through 39 = Text Before Calling, Maybe
40+ = Why Aren’t You Answering Your Phone
Me personally, I still like a mix of communications, as befits my Introvert/Extrovert blend and age bracket (though I shall not reveal it). Yes, I am guilty of being a high volume phone user (and not for calls) in real-life social settings, in part because my job demands it.
My argument: we have more ways to connect to our surroundings AND avoid them, all bundled into one little, very smart device.
This is part one of an ongoing series of thoughts. Next up, my communication hierarchy. What gets answered first and what builds relationships fastest, from text to video chat. What do you think?