Doug McIntyre

Radio Host · Columnist · TV/Film Writer-Producer · Event Emcee

Radio Host · Columnist · TV/Film Writer-Producer · Event Emcee

Texting not talking is a major hang up

It could be me.

With caller ID, it is possible the people I call see my phone number and deliberately let it go to voice mail. I imagine them saying, “Not him again!” or something worse. It particularly hurts when Mom won’t take my call.

Still, I suspect this problem is bigger than me. Despite the 85,000 ways we now have of communicating with each other, we seem to talk less, preferring texts or tweets to actual conversation. Between typos, auto-correct and rotten punctuation, is it any wonder there’s so much confusion in the world?

I don’t know when talking on the phone became unfashionable, but clearly it has. Try getting a millennial to actually answer the phone; I mean with their voice not their thumbs. You stand a better chance of changing someone’s mind about Trump or Hillary on Facebook.

On Friday I needed to talk with a business associate in New York. Between time zone changes, meetings and his stubborn refusal to answer his phone, what could have been settled in a 30-second conversation instead required 14 emails, nearly as many texts, spread out over seven hours.

When I finally got the 20-something on the phone, he listened to my bellyaching in disbelief. “Why would anyone want to speak? Like with words and stuff.”

He didn’t actually say this, but I could hear him thinking it.

Back in February, The Washington Post reported sales of breakfast cereal have plunged because millennials are too lazy to wash a bowl and spoon. I’m not making this up. Check out this link:www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/02/23/this-is-the-height-of-laziness/

So is it too much of a stretch to think we’ve also become too lazy to talk?

Talking can be work, hard work, especially if you have to talk to the same people I talk to. Still, all this emailing, texting and tweeting chews up countless hours, adding immeasurably to the stress of daily life. And ultimately anything of actual importance results in a phone call anyway, usually to apologize for coming off snippy or judgmental in your last text.

Additionally I’m challenged because I have fat stubby fingers better suited to the holes in a bowling ball rather than an iAnything.

Unless you have the dexterity of a concert grand pianist, texting should be limited to “yes”, “no”, “11pm, terminal 5” and “Do you feel like Chinese?”

For anything else, pick up the phone.

I know I might as well take a kitchen broom to Malibu and try to sweep the Pacific Ocean back to Japan. Texting is here to stay, and it’s so embedded in the culture it’s possible in a few generations our vocal cords will go the way of human tailbones and nipples on men. Darwin meets Steve Jobs.

In my house we have four cordless phones that are forever migrating away from their charging stations, playing hide-and-seek under the sofa cushions. As a result, we also have two rotary phones, yes rotary, like with a dial. One is a restored 1950s payphone and is hard-wired to the kitchen wall. It’s the only phone we can ever actually find on the rare occasion when someone does call.

We also have a vintage 1930s model with a black cloth-covered wire heavy enough to kill an intruder in an emergency.

Throw in two cellphones and that brings the total up to eight phones between The Wife and me, which is about six more phones than actual calls received over the past two months.

AT&T checks in with us periodically to make sure we’re eating right since they can’t afford to lose us.

Texting is apparently now becoming too much as well.

The same generation too lazy to wash a cereal bowl has grown from monosyllabic teenagers to emoji texting adults who communicate in digital hieroglyphics utterly bewildering to anyone over 40.

I know what a smiley face is, an expression of happiness or approval, but what the hell is a puppy with its tongue sticking out supposed to tell me? Recently one of the kids sent me a taco emoji. It took three texts and an email to discover he had butt-dialed by mistake.

Hello? Anyone?

Doug McIntyre’s column appears Sundays. Hear him weekdays 5-10 a.m. on KABC-AM (790). He can be reached at: Doug@DougMcIntyre.com.