Commentary

A Millennial Goes Back To The Future

Call me.

Yes. I'm serious, just call me.

This is the non-conversation conversation I always seem to have with my younger sister, after a textathon that lasts so long, I miss Sammie and Ronnie make up and they're already back to fighting. I usually have to stop the match and beg her for mercy because I cannot take it anymore. Like our "Jersey Shore" lovers' sparring, someone has to give because it is literally and figuratively just too painful to go on that way. And in Jersey or outside of Jersey, it is even worse for the others in the room.

Now, I will be the first to admit I had a troubled past with the phone; I screened calls, checked messages weeks later and was known to text the person calling before they even finished their voicemail. And because of my previous penchant for ring tones and pings over voices, I missed two impromptu engagement celebration rallying cries for two close friends.

As she left in a voicemail I didn't hear, one engaged friend had to send a text the next day to let me know she had big news. The other engaged friend put another friend in charge of getting a hold of me when I did not answer the phone, since she was not comfortable leaving her news in a message. These were my wake-up calls.

I came to the realization that while I have so many ways to contact my friends via the plethora of social networks and other evolving technologies, I am not necessarily connecting with them.

This is quite shocking for a person who grew up, as my mother used to say, with a phone attached to her ear; I still wonder when I put down the phone, and when I stopped connecting!

I was relieved to find, thanks to the New York Times, that I am not alone. According to the research, the demise of the phone as we know it is cultural, not personal. The article informs us that many people believe "assiduous commenting on a friend's Facebook updates and periodically emailing promises to 'catch up by phone soon' substitute for actual conversation." And when the phone is, in fact, used as previously directed, aside from family members, a call is made to let someone know something awful or unusual has happened.

And that's why I made a pledge to find an old use for my new phone, to start making and receiving calls. All of these forms of contact, substitutes, left me feeling surprisingly disconnected.

Thus, a few shifts I made to change my behavior:

• Facebook exists to help me connect, not to connect for me

• Decrease Facebook time and increase face time

• Email is still mail, it's not a direct connection with someone else

• Unlimited texting does not mean I should send that many to one person

• Voicemails are the voices of people trying to connect with me now, not to listen to later

Coincidentally, my friend Sarah is calling me right now. I considered sending it to voicemail and then remembered the pain I felt after Sunday's match with my sister, so I hit connect.

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