The Anti-Phone Rant

As I read yet another article about the imminent death of corporate email, I was wondering how much corporations pay for office phone systems. Granted, I don’t work in an office. But, I can hardly imagine calling anyone. In many ways, there is a much bigger shift going on outside of the corporate world. And I think how people communicate outside of work is probably the driving force to how businesses communicate. Today, there is a slew of communication tools that we didn’t have four years ago. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, SMS or any number of smaller social networks that has yet to be purchased by Facebook (bye bye Gowalla), it’s way to easy to get in touch and work on something without hearing the voice on the other end. And I’m sure there are a ton of other instant messaging systems and wikis companies can use to work on things. I’ll leave it to people actually working in big companies to justify whether or not they should get rid of email. But, I think that they should at least consider getting rid of their phones. Or maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. The phone is dying. I work in a restaurant. And we have online ordering. I think I’m going to take a survey this week to see how many of our orders are submitted online. I’d wager that it’s close to half. Some people aren’t comfortable with the internet. And I understand that. And some people think they can get a better deal by calling us up directly. Perhaps that’s true. But, often it’s not. I don’t mind talking to customers on the phone. And I think it puts more of a good face on our company when we can have a closer connection to our customers. But, it’s often not necessary. In my private life, the phone is absolutely not necessary. Well, unless I need to call 911, I suppose. But, other than that, not really. I’ve only called two people over the last month. My mom. And the VA to schedule a doctors appointment. I believe you should call your mom at least once a week. So, I’m always glad to talk with her about what I’m up too. But, there’s absolutely no reason why I need to talk with an actual person to make an appointment to see the doctor. Why can’t I do that online? Especially when it played out like this: 10:00am: I called the main line and dialed in the extension for the office I needed. I got a voice mail asking me to provide my name, the last 4 of my social security number and the reason I was calling. I left all the pertinent information and then hung up the phone. 11:36am: Almost two hours later, I missed a call from the VA calling me back. Since, all of my voicemails get transcribed and sent to my email, I read that they put me in to see the doctor I asked to see at her next available appt. If that was ok, there was nothing else I would need to do. If I couldn’t make it to that appointment, I should call as soon as possible to get another appointment. I didn’t directly talk with anyone. I called and recorded a message. The person on the other end listened to my recording when she had the time and took it upon her self to pencil me in to the next available appointment and called me back to leave a recording to let me know. Why can’t doctor appointments be scheduled online like I do with my laser hair removal sessions or how I buy concert tickets? Right about now, you might be thinking that I just have an aversion to human contact. And in some way, your right. I have quite the history with social anxiety. And I hate the way my voice sounds. But, that doesn’t mean I’m holed up in my house avoiding people. I speak to people on a regular basis. It doesn’t bother me. What I’m saying is that my time is precious. I have a lot going on in my life. If I can just pull up the (imaginary) VA Hospital app on my phone, tap on my doctor’s name and pick the next available date, write a short note about why I needed to be seen, I would have been done in a matter of minutes. And maybe, that’s what would have happened if the lady had actually answered her phone when I called. But, this isn’t the first time this has happened. Nope. Instead of knowing within a few minutes when I would get into see the doctor, I had to wait an hour and thirty six minutes. Out of most of my friends, I know startlingly few of their phone numbers. I communicate with most of my coworkers over text message. And there are several friends up in the northern part of the metro area that I communicate via a combination of text and Facebook messages. There are a large group of local friends who, maybe 5 years ago, I wouldn’t know, or if I did, would have their phone number, who I mainly communicate with over Twitter. And some of them via Facebook. I think the only email I get from these friends are when we are trying to arrange Sunday brunch or where to meet before a concert. There are several out of state family members who I only communicate with over Facebook message or email. Only a handful of others stay in touch with email. A certain trend has begun over the last several years. At least for me. Twitter has become a place for short messages. Facebook is for closer friends and family. Email is for long form formal and informal communication with friends and acquaintances. And SMS for coworkers and close friends. As I sit here typing this out, I see lots of people on their phones. So, clearly I’m probably more of an outlier than I think. In fact, I just started laughing a little bit. I don’t know why I’m so upset about the phone. It’s not like I pay for phone service (Thanks Google Voice!). Maybe I want every communication to be done online. I still believe the phone as we know it is dying a long, hopefully, horrible death. But, maybe when I’m old and crotchety, I’ll miss it. Now, take your 3-D holographic iPhone 17 and get off my genetically engineered lawn!

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About Frogtosser

A former sailor and pizza maker who is done hiding from the world and is now living life to it's fullest extent. I'm a single speed bicycle commuter who enjoys writing and photography. I'm a voracious reader. And a huge geek!
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