First Click: Please stop calling my smartphone

June 29th, 2015


Text me. Email me. WhatsApp, Facebook, iMessage, Skype, DM me, or send me a heartbeat from your Apple Watch. I don’t care. Just don’t call me.

How self-centered are you to think you can inject yourself unannounced into my life whenever you want, causing me to drop everything just to focus on you? In the age of multitasking your calls are inefficient, requiring my full undivided attention lest I appear rude. Other forms of smartphone communications are more concise and asynchronous allowing me to prioritize my attention in real time.

And you can forget about leaving a voicemail — I never set it up when I bought this new phone.

We're no longer in the age of flip phones and candy bars that shipped with dedicated start and end call buttons. Their raison d'être was voice calling. With the invention of smartphones, the "phone" is just another communications app. One that is quickly being demoted from the favorites bar. Hell, most modern phone reviews don’t even bother discussing call reception or quality because making calls pales in importance to how fast we can manipulate and share our pretty Instagram selfies. The phone app is just another feature like that gym in your apartment building: you rarely use it but you wouldn’t live in a place without it.

ericsson voice usage

Apps are transforming the way we communicate and culture helps determine the apps we use. According to a June report from Ericsson, American and British smartphone users make relatively more voice calls, while Japanese and South Korean users prefer texting. One in four Japanese smartphone users don't make any traditional voice calls at all.

There’s also a generational divide. For people that grew up with landlines, calling someone to talk was the norm. Older relatives might not have a smartphone and if they do, they’re unlikely to feel comfortable communicating on the latest social media services. That’s fine, I have no beef with you.

My issue is with family and friends that call me from their iPhone or new Android device to tell me something that could be delivered in a one sentence message — it’s time for you to learn a new communications etiquette.

Don't get me wrong, talking is still important. I don’t want to hear about a major life event from a close friend via text, for example. But if you’re going to tell me about your engagement then let’s video conference for a deeper experience. We can FaceTime, Hangout, or Skype if you prefer. Or maybe Line or WeChat if you're in Asia. Put on a hat if you just woke up, but if it’s important enough that you have to talk, then the least you can do is comb your hair.

Otherwise, text me a map of where we can meet and I’ll gladly buy the coffee while we go full-human.

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