Is it just me, or have cellphones become useless for voice conversations? To be fair, cellphones do work in limited situations, such as: “I WILL BE THERE IN TEN MINUTES! TEN MINUTES! I SAID I WILL BE THERE IN TEN MINUTES! HELLO? CAN YOU HEAR ME? FUCK THIS STUPID PHONE, I’LL TEXT YOU! AND I’M DRIVING, SO I MIGHT BE DEAD IN TEN MINUTES!”
Generally speaking, a cellphone conversation is a frustrating failure if any of these conditions is true.
1. You have a weak signal.
2. You are using an earpiece or headset.
3. The other person has a weak signal.
4. The other person is using an earpiece or headset.
5. The other person has a cell phone (delay problem).
6. You are multitasking and can’t think.
7. The other person is multitasking and can’t think.
8. You are in a noisy environment, such as Earth.
9. The other person is in a noisy environment, such as Earth.
10. You get another call you have to take.
11. The other person gets another call he has to take.
12. You have a dying battery.
13. You have a phone that drops calls for no good reason.
14. The other person has a phone that drops calls for no good reason.
15. The other person has a dying battery.
16. You are in a restaurant and you’re not a jerk.
17. The other person is in a restaurant and isn’t a jerk.
18. There is a child within 100 yards of you.
19. There is a child within 100 yards of the other person.
Yes, that covers almost every situation. And the list goes on. In my life, voice calls using cellphones fail more often than they succeed, and the situation is getting worse. There was a time when most cellphone calls involved a land line on the other end, so at least one end of the conversation was likely to be trouble-free. Now most of the calls I fantasize about making would be between my cellphone and another cellphone. I don’t like those odds. So I send text messages instead.
For important calls, I use a land line that serves as my fax line. If I receive a call on my cellphone, I try to keep it short, or I call back from my fax line. Or I beg for an email that gives me whatever information I want. My situation is worse than most because I have an iPhone, and it decides on its own when my calls are done, no matter how strong the signal is. (I suspect that my ear is using the touchscreen without authorization from my brain.)
While voice calling is getting worse, texting is becoming easier. More smartphones have full keyboards. And texting isn’t the huge inconvenience that phone calls are. I explained in another post that all phone calls have a victim, i.e. the person receiving the call. You’re ALWAYS in the middle of doing something else when someone calls to yack. The worst offenders are the people in cars who don’t have satellite radio, or books on tape, and they’re just calling to make their drive less boring.
Texting is way better. It can fill in all of the tiny spaces in life while you’re waiting for something else to happen and a voice call would be too large for the space. When I get a text alert, it always makes me happy, even before I read the message. When my phone rings, I think, Uh-oh, what fresh hell is this?
Another great advantage of texting is that it thwarts bores. Bores love voice conversations. In a pinch, they will send you overlong emails. But texting forces boring people to be brief. How great is that?
In a situation in which both I and the other person have smartphones, I always choose texting over a voice call. In time, everyone with whom I want to communicate outside of a business context will have a smartphone, and I’ll never need to make a cellphone-to-cellphone call again. Kids are already there. Wireless voice calls are dinosaurs, and that big shadow you see is a meteor.