“Hello, this is Leonard,” I said into the telephone.
“Ugh, (pause) I wasn’t actually expecting a live person to pick up,” said the voice on the other end.
After regrouping, the caller began her unexpected conversation with me. Needing help, she’d dialed my number planning on leaving a preplanned voicemail. You know the drill: name, reason for the call, and a return number. And for extra credit remember to repeat your name and phone number.
A few moments later, finishing up our conversation, I thanked her for call as well as for taking the time to speak with a live person.
“Be sure to tell all your friends,” I said.
“You know,” she said, “calling these days and actually getting a live person is kind of like finding a Yeti.”
Hanging up the phone the truth of her words began settling in. In today’s world, how many times do we really expect to get a warm, welcoming voice on the other end? So ingrained is this expectation, most of us mentally prepare out message in short sound bites. Ironically, calling and unexpectedly getting a live voice on the other end takes us off script and leaves us feeling a bit, well, uncomfortable.
For a modern world harkening to be the champion of social communication, we are sure getting rather impersonal.
People expect to use voicemail as a tool to better manage their time. And in today’s ‘social’ world, however, if someone breaks from the expected script, most of us get confused or even borderline annoyed. Basically, our voicemail is all about efficiency and not a time or place to make a warm or friendly exchange of information.
Yes, when you think about it that is a rather sad statement about our newfound ‘social’ culture. Proudly declaring we’ve over 500 ‘friends’ on a social platform or thousands of ‘followers’, a strong case could be made supporting our increasingly self-imposed personal isolation in the world.
Supposedly technology is working to make our lives easier – freeing us up to spend more time with those we love and enjoy our lives as we wish. Dare I ask “how’s that working out for you?”
My accidental telephone conversation was really enjoyable. Both us, leaving the script, actually got to know each other beyond the numbers on the keypad of our telephones. Before long we were laughing and looking for a way to solve her request. To some degree, albeit limited, we became friends working together. And with any degree of familiarity naturally comes respect for the other person. All and all, a time well spent.
But one man can not fight this battle alone.
Once I remember my then-teenage daughter be put off at having to actually speak into her cellphone.
“Nobody talks on cell phones,” she said. “That’s why we have texting.”
Again, technology between two people.
So maybe I’m someone straddling two societies – one of advancement and higher calling and another of a more primitive nature. You know, when you look at it that way, I’m not too different from the Yeti after all.
– 30 –