Sunday, August 3, 2008

Requiem for the Telephone

Earlier this week, H, a guy scheduled to attend a concert with me, decided to cancel -- via text message. H’s decision to cancel our date using an alternate communication method led me to wonder, whatever happened to picking up the phone?

We live in an era where technology enables us to be connected 24/7. And yet, despite email, instant messaging, text messaging, Blackberry devices and the like, it seems like there’s becoming more and more of a disconnect, at least when it comes to what is considered appropriate to communicate in a high-tech fashion.

H’s text is only the latest example that I’ve experienced of this unfortunate trend that would have Miss Manners pointing a disapproving finger at the opposite sex.

During my days, a guy cancelled our Sunday evening date by sending an email to my work account. Never mind the fact that he had my number and had lamented only days before the disappearing use of the telephone.

In the same vein, a real estate analyst tethered at all times to his Blackberry chose to confirm our recent after-work date by sending me an email after 6pm instead of calling. I happened to log on from home that night, opting to forgive his gaffe and meet him for a drink -- an exception which occurred strictly because I was craving a goodnight kiss and knew he would deliver.

Perhaps this is a hopelessly antiquated notion, but I think picking up the phone remains the most appropriate way to cancel or change plans. Emails can go astray, as can text messages. Calling and or leaving a voicemail demonstrates respect and consideration for another person’s time. And there’s nothing antiquated about that.

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