Thursday, July 18, 2013

Maintaining voice contact has profound rewards

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Remember phone calls?
I’m not talking about Skype or Instagram, e-mails or app sharing or exploring the universe with Siri or texting or Geocashing, Touting, Tweeting or any of the other weird, wild and sometimes wonderful things you can do with smart phones and their on-screen cousins.
I’m talking about the fun even we ancient Baby Boomers and our Gen-X kids could have with our phones.
I’m talking about curling up in your comfiest (even rattiest) jammies for a nice, long, voice-to-voice,  heart-to-heart. With your best friend, a parent, a sibling, your soulmate, your love, your kid or grandkid.
And lately, I’ve been wondering if that most intimate of communication forms is going (or for many, has already gone) the way of the snail mail love letter.
It would be a shame.
There are spiritual traditions that maintain the best — or maybe the only  — way to transmit the most profound secrets of the universe is via the spoken word. Somehow, when Genesis proclaims, “In the beginning, there was the word,” I feel sure that there was a sacred vibration involved, not a text or a Tweet.
And on more mundane planes, there are profound bonds than can be achieved with nothing more than two voices in the dark, across town, a country, a continent and a world.
Texting can be safe and efficient. The right photo, Tweeted at just the right time, can be worth a thousand words.
And there are times, circumstances permitting, that only live face time, and hugs and kisses, will do.
But there are also times, in life’s trickier transitions, when love and friendship are very new or very old and established, that spoken words can be not merely enough, but perfection.
There’s something about a voice phone conversation that can make it easier to share secrets and problems, plans and fears and full-tilt love.
How many shy lovers have shared their first declarations in phone conversations? I wouldn’t be surprised if many or most first discussions of commitment, sharing lives, considerations of marriage and even proposals first surfaced on the phone.
Tweens and teens learn social skills. It may be easier to ask for a first date via text or a creative e-mail or Instagram, but there’s something about the butterflies that come with in-person or voice contact that I think we’ll miss, if we give it up entirely.
With voice phone calls, green employees on first jobs can learn to conduct business without having to worry about body language, prejudice and other issues that can be confidence busters for young workers or those seeking new positions or promotions.
Phone solicitations don’t fall into any of these desirable communication categories. But I wonder if some of our most lonely and vulnerable people might be more susceptible to unethical pitches, is an era where many are starved for human contact, the warmth of an intimate voice, even if the speaker is up to no good.
In the last few years, I’ve found myself making appointments for phone chats with friends and relatives, setting aside an hour or two to catch up, just as we would if we were getting together for lunch or dinner. Even if we Tweet, e-mail or keep tabs on one another via Facebook or other social media on a daily basis, there’s something special about making time for a real phone conversation.
Intergenerational chats can be more problematical. It can be tougher than ever to compete in a multimedia world. You have to be an entertaining conversationalist. And that’s still a valuable skill to develop, however the world may change.
It’s worth the effort, and the rewards can be  warmer relationships — and real communication in a plugged-in world where deep connections are still rare and precious.

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