On July 3, my Independence Day plans were unsettled.
Though I had a few relatively solid ideas, I wasn't 100 percent sure on a few small details.
Many texts were se nt back and forth between friends and relatives and I began to feel a bit more confident in my plans. As I have yet to upgrade to a smart phone, many messages came in three parts and often out of order.
Baseball games, fireworks, corn hole, hot dogs and America were thoroughly discussed through text. Many emoticons, exclamation marks and leading periods were used to communicate excitement, curiosity and disappointment.
In fact, just one exclamation or question mark wasn't enough. Three question marks were necessary to imply curiosity, but an average of five exclamation marks were barely enough to communicate my excitement for the upcoming celebration. Winking faces were vastly important when I chose to use sarcasm, and occasionally even a "just kidding" to make sure he/she understood me correctly.
The best part of all this was that I could work out, check Facebook, and/or watch TV all while solidifying plans for the most American Independence Day ever.
Until, much to my horror and surprise, my phone began to vibrate. This would be normal except that my phone continued to vibrate. It was as if someone was calling me.
Someone was calling me. I paused my syndicated television show and stood up (just to be more professional). The call was from my brother, Will, who clearly grew up in an age when telephone calls were frequent amongst friends.
While many of my phone calls are work-related, 20% are from my mom and the other 10% are generally from my brother. I consider it a generational thing.
I had texted him at 4:15 p.m. on July 3, and at 4:16 p.m. my phone began to vibrate, and for a few short seconds I thought I might have to work on Independence Day. Fortunately, Will's name and picture popped up on my phone, indicating that it wasn't my boss calling, just my brother. He wanted to confirm holiday plans.
I wiped my brow and answered, concern still noticeable in my voice. He asked how I was and we discussed our differing plans for the 4th. After a short discussion and a few laughs, I hung up and went back to my previous activity. Oddly enough, I couldn't stop smiling. I continued to ponder over our conversation, the jokes and banter.
Though I had mocked him for calling when he could have sent a text, I realized that none of what he had done was less easy or pleasant than a text. In fact, I derived more pleasure from a seven-minute phone call than from any of the previous texts I had received from friends.
The banter, jokes, affection, tone of voice, pleasantries, etc., could never have been communicated through emoticons and exclamation marks.
That one phone conversation with my brother re-envisioned communication in my mind. While I spend a large majority of my day sending and receiving numerous texts, I could easily have well-meaning conversations with friends in less time with less worry.
That moment of waiting for the next text, trying to stay awake just in case he/she texts back, the frequent misunderstandings that take place, the worry when he/she doesn't text back: it could all be forgotten.
What happened to this tech-savvy generation? Did we forget the importance of actually conversing?
I submit that we rediscover what we lost. At what point did a text implying, "thinking of you," replace a phone call with a voice? What we look for in a conversation may be amiss.
More importantly, you lose the ability to discern honest feeling. In a conversation there are pauses, sighs, laughter (not described by "haha" or "lol"), and even the occasional yawn. All these describe something about the person, how they're feeling, what they desire.
A phone call allows for an assurance of that person's rapt attention. It means he/she isn't watching TV, playing a computer game, or talking to someone else. For five minutes, you can talk to that person one-on-one and figure out every detail.
The worst moment in a text conversation is when you ask a question and have to wait an extended period of time for the response. During a phone call, every question can be covered in limited time with immediate answers.
Maybe my generation hasn't found the answer to everything. Maybe we need to go back in time a little and enjoy the simple things in life, like a phone conversation.
- Lauren Kittrell is a senior in journalism and electronic media. She can be reached at email@example.com.