Today’s post is from AnneMarie, a guest contributor from Sacrifice of Love.
I quickly peeled the foil wrapper off of the chocolate and popped the dark, slightly bitter morsel into my mouth. As I savored the creamy texture, my eyes glanced down at the wrapper that now lay empty on the table. A message, printed on the inside, gleamed up at me: Call, don’t text.
A simple statement, but a powerful challenge as well.
When I first purchased a cell phone in the summer of 2011, I reluctantly taught myself how to text. Upholding the value of face-to-face conversations and verbal communication, I did not think that the trend of obsessive texting which I had seen was beneficial for relationships. However, as I entered an out-of-state college just a few months later, my fingers learned how to fly across my phone, rapidly punching out and sending messages to friends back home and my new classmates on campus.
As the next few years sped by, I continued to discover the benefits of non-verbal forms of electronic communication. Thanks to texting, I could carry on multiple conversations at once or arrange meetings with friends by sending text messages as class was beginning or ending. E-mail was a way to occasionally update family members about my life or to discuss certain topics whenever I found the time to e-mail them back. Facebook became a way that I could “catch up” with various friends around the country as I scrolled and clicked through profiles and my newsfeed. By the time that I graduated from college in May 2015, these forms of communication had become habitual routines and ways of “keeping in touch” with my widespread group of friends and former classmates.
Yet, as I would mindlessly scroll through social media, guilt began to nag at me. Whereas I once sat and carried on deep conversations with many of these friends, now that we were several states away from each other, our communications were reduced to clicking “like” on a Facebook post or commenting on a picture—and this fact was unsettling to me. I realized that people are made for better communication than this. In a verbal conversation with another person, I could hear his or her personality and emotions shine through vocal inflections. The sounds of his or her voice would be comforting and familiar. We could spontaneously react and share ideas with each other, giving the conversation our full attention. Scrolling through another person’s profile did not provide the same level of comradery or fellowship as a vocal conversation.
Naturally, as I began to see how my communication with others was lacking, I began to think of ways to improve. The obvious option was calling people on the phone. So simple, right? This is what people did before text messaging and the internet, and what I learned to do as a young girl. How hard could it be to call up a good friend on the phone?
I’m embarrassed to admit that this is actually quite difficult. Each time I would think of picking up the phone to call a friend, excuses would run through my mind and hold me back: “She’ll be too busy to talk when I call her,” “I’ll be interrupting something important,” “I don’t have time for the 2-hour conversation that she might want,” and “We haven’t talked in a long time, so calling out of the blue would be awkward!” These fears all seemed perfectly legitimate to me, so I justified becoming a “Facebook stalker” instead of actually calling friends on the phone.
As time went on, I began to think through my hesitance and see just how silly my reasoning was. If I called a friend who was too busy to talk or in the middle of something important, I could always leave a message or simply chat for a couple of minutes. If I did not have time for a lengthy conversation, I could always explain that to my friend and try to wrap up the call after a short while. If I felt awkward, why was that? If I could easily call relatives or local businesses, shouldn’t I be able to call up a good friend? Furthermore, wouldn’t it be good to keep up communication instead of letting a good friendship fizzle out over time due to neglect?
One day, a college friend called me on the phone. She had just moved to a new state and wanted to catch up. In the course of our conversation, she mentioned that I could call her whenever I wanted, and that if she didn’t answer, I could always leave a message. Her encouragement kicked me into action, and I began letting go of the fears and excuses that kept me from calling friends on the phone. For example, on one occasion, a friend and I were texting back and forth a little bit, so I suggested a “phone date.” We had not talked verbally to each other in over two years, but we had a fabulous conversation, and it was a great way to reconnect. One of my other friends and I have probably shared more conversations—on the phone—in the past handful of months than we did in our final year of college! Whenever I put down my phone after a spontaneous conversation with a friend, I am overcome with a much greater sense of fulfillment than when I close out of Facebook. Social media can be a very beneficial way to connect with others, spread awareness about issues or events, and share pictures, but it cannot replace the value of intimate, personal conversation with another person.
Perhaps there is a friend you think of from time to time who you have not talked with in quite a while. While it may seem more convenient to glance at that person’s online profile, I encourage you to instead pick up your phone and call him or her. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
Do you ever find it difficult to call friends on the phone? What do you do to overcome your reluctance?
AnneMarie is an old-fashioned, book-loving, somewhat hippyish, quirky young wife and mom who loves discussing life and sharing her adventures with readers. Learn more about AnneMarie, her faith, and her many undertakings at her blog, Sacrifice of Love.
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