Monday, June 14, 2010

In Which I Confess to Sly-Dialing

It was me! I did it. I sly-dialed.

You know sly-dialing. It's a sneaky little service that lets you bypass much of the actual business of calling someone by connecting you directly to their voicemail. You pretend you've called a person; you create the illusion of having called. But in fact you never intended, and in fact went to some lengths to avoid, real-time connection.

I suppose it's understandable. Real-life communication -communication that is two-sided and live- is tricky in way that email is not. And email and its little brother, texting, are our default these days. I can't remember the last time I chose to communicate by telephone when email was available. Emailing is just easier. It's more securely under your control; you can shape -and reshape- it in advance; you can fine-tune what you want to say.

It's the coward's mode of communication, and I am nothing if not a coward. I telephone when it's unavoidable, or when things are too complicated or too large or to say over email, or when I want immediate dialogue. Or when I don't have your email address.

Enter sly dial, ridding me of any last vestigial need to converse! I might as well become a card-carrying monologist, because I sure as heck don't need to listen anymore!

Though, to be more precise, what sly dial actually relieves you of is not so much conversation as uncomfortable conversation, those dialogues you're just too chicken shit to have. In my case, craven people-pleaser that I am, I didn't want to tell a nice landlord in live conversation that I had signed a lease on someone else's place. But I can see sly dial being used to deliver a whole plethora of rejections, personal and professional, as well as to pass along bad news, unload emotional baggage, and to just generally be a jerk.

All of which begs the question: Will we miss uncomfortable conversation when it's gone? Is there something essential, or at least instructive, in facing your demons, in having to look in the eye -or at least tangle your voice with- the person you're about to hurt? Does experiencing discomfort make you more empathetic, less ruthless, more, well, human?

Good stuff to think about later. First I have to go sly dial my brother.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

This sounds like something Samantha would like.