With apologies to Alexander Graham Bell

I’ve never much cared for the telephone. I’ve always found it rather intrusive and annoying, an interrupter of solitude. It has no consideration for whatever I might be in the middle of. I don’t usually look forward to calls, either making or receiving them. I will frequently let the answering machine or voice mail field a call if I am even mildly occupied, and will definitely never answer if I don’t recognize the number – salesman, ninety percent of the time.

Fact is, I usually consider talking on the phone a waste of time unless there is a particular purpose for the call. I don’t like chit-chat, it does nothing for me but bore me to death. Friends have grumbled at times that I don’t call them. I stopped having a landline several years ago, and reluctantly have a cell phone mainly for emergencies and other absolute necessities (it is hard to function in modern life without a phone number). I am not tethered to my cell phone like most people nowadays – you won’t catch me on it in a store, subjecting everyone around me to the one-sided blathering of my otherwise private conversation, and I would never use it while being cashed out. People don’t like it when clerks do this to them, so what makes them think clerks are any different? It’s rude, on either side of the transaction. It’s treating the other person like they’re not important enough to merit your brief attention.

Is phone-aversion an introvert thing? Do most people perk up at the sound of a ringing telephone, at the mysterious allure and potential of the unknown call? Judging by the smart-phone and texting addiction of  the younger generation, I’d have to say “yes,” absolutely. Constant contact is king.

I can understand extroverts loving the telephone, since they crave contact and being social.  I see people at work who spend their entire break talking on their cell phones, while I usually spend mine reading. These same people are on the phone the minute their shift is over, and they also usually arrive for work talking on the phone. They surreptitiously whip out their phones during work, checking Facebook or texting.

What did people do before cell phones, I often wonder, since it seems they can’t function or feel secure unless conversing with someone 24/7? Was it only a decade ago that people had to walk around – gasp! – totally disconnected? When they couldn’t call home from the store to recite every flavor of ice cream available to see which one they should buy? Oh, and do we need milk? How much of these conversations have any meaning? Does anyone care that your favorite song just came on the radio?

Granted, cell phones come in very handy at times (like the milk query), but some people take it way too far, providing their unseen cohort with a blow-by-blow accounting of their every move. I’ve noticed that people tend to share more on the phone with the other party than they likely would were they standing right next to them. It must be the fear of silence. Silence during a phone conversation is unacceptable, whereas it is perfectly alright in person.

Why is phone silence not allowed? Might there be an insecurity about whether the other person is still there? Is it because time is money on some calls? Is it because we feel stupid holding a phone and not saying anything? Whatever the reason, I suspect it has a large part to do with my dislike of the telephone – it abhors silence and demands non-stop talking, which is pretty much my idea of hell.