Many of us have smartphones, but it seems we spend less time talking on them and more time texting. It's cheaper, more efficient and affords greater privacy. Maybe it's just me, but I have this nagging feeling that picking up the phone and actually calling someone is considered a little intrusive. I have friends that I communicate with via e-mail and social media, but it occurred to me a while back that I haven't heard most of their voices in a long time, so I made a point of calling a few of them.
It seems that you can't just call to call -- it's best to have a reason. So I made sure I had one -- in this case, the East Coast floods. It was great to hear my friends' voices, and to my surprise, they were happy to hear mine, too. With voice, you can tell jokes, kid the other person, even be a little bit sarcastic, and there's a much better chance your message will be received the right way. With text, you have to watch what you say and how you say it, even with friends. Words on a page -- or in this case, a screen -- are like notes on sheet music. You can imagine how the music sounds, but there's no substitute for hearing it played by a real instrument.
Just for the record, I am not afraid of communications technology. I'm an amateur radio operator and have been texting since the 1960s via Morse code. But I still prefer the voice mode. There's something magical about a voice from the other side of the world coming through your radio speaker, strictly by means of the ionosphere. When you talk to people in other countries this way, you get to hear all those interesting accents, which text just can't convey.
Some say that after a loved one passes away, the first thing you forget about them as time goes on is the voice -- or maybe it's the last thing. But at the risk of being a bandwidth hog, I'm going to continue to use the phone to talk with live human beings where possible.
With a Perspective, I'm Mike Meenan.