While there is no research behind this statement, it’s safe to say most millennials suffer from a touch of telephobia.
We are wholly addicted to our phones. From texting to TikTok to Instagram, there is nothing we can’t or won’t do on our handheld devices.
Well, except for the one thing phones were actually invented for.
You see, nothing sends a shiver down a millennial’s spine more than the sounds of a dial tone. Phone calls are truly and utterly frightening. It’s the rushed hellos, drawn-out goodbyes and the general mumbling mess that is the entire conversation.
Many millennials have wished for death when the person on the other line hasn’t heard what was said and replies: ‘pardon?’.
We would rather get rejected by a pub full of potential love interests than have to go through that pain and humiliation.
Sadly, I am one of those millennials. I like texting, emailing and dropping into people’s DMs with random requests. I will avoid phone calls at all costs, even to friends and family members.
The only exception to this rule is my mother.
I wish my doctor and dentist used WhatsApp as a portal for appointments and that all restaurants had an online booking system.
However, talking to people is good for the soul they say. Text messages and emoji can never replicate the sound of a human voice and a voice note can never beat real-time conversation.
So, as a test to see if calling someone on the phone can make you happier, I rang an individual every day for seven days.
Here is how it went.
For the first day of my trial, I keep it simple and ring the one person guaranteed to make me happy; my mum.
We live in the same house but she was gone for four hours on errands and I got withdrawal symptoms.
She tells me about a woman whose brother’s best friend’s cousin had died and in the same breath complains about the price of a litre of milk and a bottle of pinot grigio.
I hang up smiling. She comes home 20 minutes later.
On Saturday, I ring a friend of mine who had been on a date the night before. Being in a relationship, I like to vicariously live through her escapades so that I too can feel like a woman scorned and curse all men who cross my path.
The man was a jockey but was due in court the following Monday for driving too fast. We say if he had the same need for speed on the race course he might finally manage to get a winner. We laugh out loud.
I tell her to call me immediately after her next date.
An official day of rest, I decide to ring my godmother.
A staunch Catholic, she takes resting on Sundays very seriously and after 10am mass she sits on the couch and watches repeats of A Place in the Sun. We talk about how much we love the show and that a shared dream of ours would be to own a villa in Portugal. I say we should do it.
She asks if I have been to mass lately. I tell her no. She says I could do with some holy intervention in my life.
I don’t know how to feel.
Struck down by an allergic reaction to an unknown substance, today isn’t much of a day for phone talk. Nevertheless, I ring my mother (who was sitting in the kitchen) and tell her that I think I am on the way out. She asks me which door?
I don’t have the time nor energy to laugh.
Tuesday comes and I feel much better. I call up one of my best friends with whom I mostly correspond over text.
Ringing her feels off but soon we fall into a rhythm and groove. She tells me snippets about her daily life that are often pushed to the side in text conversation. We end up having a very deep and meaningful conversation that lasts well over an hour.
We agree it would have been even better if we had some wine.
Wednesday is stressful and I ring my boyfriend in tears after a difficult email exchange. I struggle to say words and instead try to explain the situation in heaves and convulsions. He says I’m probably on my period. I say how would he know when he’s never had one. He tells me that the email exchange would have turned out better if I had just called the person. Then he says he has sent me a video of a dog on Instagram.
The tears stop and I smile.
By the seventh day, I’m in a phone call groove. I ring my mobile network for help with a technical issue and had a truly delightful conversation with a customer service agent.
In between the practical bits, he tells me about his two-year old and how excited he is for the weekend as they have a cinema date planned. I tell him there’s a bottle of white wine chilling in the fridge and I couldn’t wait for my own date with it. He tells me love comes in all different forms.
I find myself laughing throughout the evening.
Am I now a phone call convert? The answer is yes and no.
I still prefer the ease of text and how easy it is to hide emotions in WhatsApp.
Yet, there is something truly lovely about connecting to a voice instantaneously. It can be uncomfortable at times, especially when you and the other person are not accustomed to calls, but mostly, it’s enjoyable.
Random thoughts are shared and once common ground is found, you begin to open up, even with complete strangers trying to help you with your phone service.
So, did it make me happier? Actually, I think it did.
Humans are social creatures and despite our love for emojis and GIFs, we require something more substantial.
While I’ll continue to voice note and send friends memes on Instagram without any context, I’m going to try and make phone calls a weekly ritual.
Because I think I may just become a millennial reformed.
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