The Silence of the Phone — Let’s Talk
Last week I came across an opinion piece – Op-ed – in the NY Times called “Do Not Perform CPR on a Bed”. This interesting title was a lead-in to the author’s thoughts on how phone conversations are a dying activity.
The author, Farhad Manjoo, started his column with:
“The phone call is not long for this world. To the young among us, talking on the phone is said to be an intrusive, anxiety-provoking time-suck that’s woefully out of step with the gif-soaked, asynchronous virality of the digital age. Why go through all the trouble of verbalizing a complicated emotion when you can say so much now — to so many different people — with a simple emoji?”
Mr. Manjoo goes on to say:
“This is all quite sad. The death of the phone call will be a blow for human relations, because talking on the phone is one of the best ways we hairless apes have ever conceived of communicating. As a kid of the 1980s — and, now, a journalist who gabs on the horn many hours a week — I have long kept a place in my heart for the phone. A good phone call sings. It can conjure the same out-of-body experience you feel listening to your favorite podcast; it transports you, instantly and efficiently, into someone else’s mind, conveying not just information but also intensity and intimacy.”
His frustrations and desire to interact in a more meaningful way with his readers led him to set up “office hours”. He established a calendar interaction offering to speak to selected readers on any topic that is “on their mind”. No set agenda, nothing off limits – for approximately 15-minute conversations. Over the last few weeks Mr. Manjoo has spoken to readers around the world on a vast range of topics – including the one which he discussed in the titled op-ed – “Don’t Perform CPR on a Bed” issue.
Overall, he stated that the experience and the conversations “have been surprising, mind-expanding, sometimes infuriating, sometimes inspiring, and never boring. They’ve taken me deep into subjects and dilemmas I might not have considered otherwise — creating, on the whole, something like an inspiration factory for future columns, which honestly feels a little like cheating.”