SSaturday night at a bar a friend and I were discussing his latest date. The date was running late and texted a few times, saying so. Eventually, the date just went ahead and canceled the date, saying he was sorry he wouldn't be able to make it. And he did so via text. Yesterday, I had an exchange with a friend in California, one that we both confessed made us laugh out loud. It took place via Facebook messages. The other day, my mom texted me to tell me she'd bought "the cutest thing" for me. I had to think about the complaint my friend made when relating the story of his canceled date: Why are people so reluctant to talk on the phone?I work online, and I IM friends and coworkers all day long. Thanks to e-mail, MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn, I know what friends and acquaintances are up to without ever hearing their voices. But when I was a teenager, I used to love talking on the phone. True, we didn't have texting, but there was also something about the back and forth of spontaneous conversation that was addictive. Although, sometimes, I didn't even talk to my friends on the phone: We'd just play songs for each other. (The phone scene in The Virgin Suicides made me weep.) The telephone gives communication an important, human layer: You can hear a person breathe, sigh, sniffle, cough. Inflections and tone give statements subtext and weight. But when it comes to finding or deciphering emotion in texting, IM and email, you might as well be using Morse code. The weird thing is that the less I talk on the phone, the less I want to talk on the phone. When it rings, I sometimes feel interrupted, annoyed or, you guessed it, reluctant to answer. Could it be that because it tends to reveal emotion, the very thing that makes talking on the phone so special is what makes some people avoid it?
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