Quit Teleporting Into My Life With Your Phone Calls

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As of January 10, 2017, at 2:19 PM EST, I have 58 missed calls on my cell phone. That may make some of you cringe. Do you know how many of those calls I feel guilty about for not answering? None. Zero. Allow me to explain why.

I need you to assume, for the sake of this article, that teleportation exists. Got it? Okay. Now, close your eyes and imagine the following scenario:

You’re just getting home after an exhausting and brutally long day at work. Doris in accounting was a major pain all day, and Gary, your supervisor, just would NOT get off your ass about those TPS reports. Yuck. What a day.

But now… now everything is right with the world. You’ve just poured yourself a glass of your favorite red wine, you’ve got some chill music going on in the background, supper is in the oven, and you’ve just plopped yourself down into your overstuffed easy chair. Alone, you can finally relax at the end of this miserable day. Ahhhh…

POP!

Suddenly your best friend Susan appears out of nowhere! Ahh! She’s all up in your face talking about her on-again, off-again relationship with Chad! Then she’s on to the party that’s coming up this weekend. (You know, the one you still haven’t figured out how to back out of?) Next it’s how irritated she is with her hairdresser. OMG! Now it’s how much stuff she needs to get done before bed. If only she had timeeeee!

Man, suddenly teleportation doesn’t sound like such a great thing, does it? All you wanted was to unwind at the end of a long day. Is that too much to ask?

See, the problem with teleporting friends is that they come out of nowhere and without any warning whatsoever. Susan didn’t care that you may have had a terrible day at work and just wanted some downtime. She NEEDED to vent about Chad — right now! It simply couldn’t wait!

Well, as you may have figured out, teleportation is a lot like a phone call. It’s sudden, intrusive, loud, and it doesn’t care one bit about what kind of day you’ve had. It demands immediate attention. A phone call says, “I don’t care what you’ve got going on right now, I need you to answer because what I’ve got going on is more important.” Arrogant, self-centered bastards, those phone calls.

If you’re an introvert like me, your body floods with all sorts of thoughts and emotions when you hear the phone ring. First, we assess the situation. “Shit, it’s Ryan. He KNOWS that I always have my phone near me, so if I don’t answer, he’ll know I’m ignoring him.” Panic. Stare at phone. Two rings now… How long can this go on? Three rings… Should I answer? This is stupid. Just answer. No, I don’t want to. Five rings… Sweat is starting to form on my brow. Six. And then silence.

WHAT. JUST. HAPPENED.

I don’t know about you, but an ill-timed phone call can pretty much ruin my evening.

But there is a better way. It’s called a text message. A text is an introvert’s best friend. Instead of the “YOU MUST ANSWER ME NOW!” phone call, a text calmly and politely says, “Hey, it’s me, your thoughtful and considerate friend. I’d really like to share something with you when you feel up to it. No rush whatsoever. Whenever is good for you.”

Ahhhh, I love you, friend who texts. You get me. You really get me.

So please, if you care about your introvert friends, consider texting them instead of teleporting into their living room. When you do this, you’re really teleporting into their life and getting in their face with things that, most likely, could wait until your introverted friend feels like talking.

DING! Oh God, it’s a voicemail from Ryan…

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  • Tricia

    Yes! Even my sisters know to text before calling me, to see if it’s a good time. And very few people have my phone number — basically, my immediate family and a couple of co-workers. I could not have survived as an adult in the days before Caller ID!

  • So much yes! I wish everyone understood this!

  • Brian

    After reading this article, I was struck by how rarely I talk on the phone anymore. Most of my phoning consists of work-related conference calls. Beyond that, most calls I receive are from telemarketers — which, thanks to Caller ID and apps like Trucaller (highly recommended, BTW), I can easily ignore and block. Most of my day-to-day communication these days is in the form of email, text messaging and Skype instant messaging. Which suits me just fine…

    In fact, when I do get a call from a friend or family member, I largely assume it’s an emergency. But I’m old enough to remember the time before any kind of messaging, Caller ID or answering machines, when most homes had a single phone line (or in my family’s case, a single phone). Every phone call was considered urgent; after all, you had no idea who was calling or why. Was it someone calling just to chat? Some kind of crisis? Your girlfriend? Dad’s boss? A crank call or wrong number? Each was given the same amount of importance. And what if you missed the call? Would the caller call back? Would they be mad at you for not answering? Would you miss out on something fun your friends had planned? If you think telephoning is stressful now, imagine/remember what it was like back in ye olden times!

  • ibikenyc

    I have an almost Avoidant regard for incoming phone calls that I then project onto any I need to (shudder) inflict; I mean initiate.

    Email and text, please and thank you!

  • HatesPhoneCallsToo

    Ditto – Email and text, please and thank you!

    I have an utter aversion to talking on the phone. If I have something to say, I say it then that’s it, I’m done.
    I’m left hanging with stupid stuff like “so what else is new?” Fortunately, I have pretty much “trained” the people in my life that I keep my phone on vibrate while at work, so as not to disrupt co-workers.

    I have them all pretty much trained to things to leave a voicemail and if it is important I will get back to them….they are quite used to lines like “Oh I must have forgotten to take my phone off vibrate when I got home”, “I must have been in the tub, or out on the back deck having a cigarette, had my headphones on, down in the laundry room etc and not heard it ring…” Be creative. I refuse to be held hostage by a phone call.

    If you have voicemail there is no reason to be held hostage either…just ignore it and don’t answer it then check to see if they left a voicemail.I figure if they didn’t then it wasn’t that important after all 🙂

  • Love this! I currently have 10 voicemail messages I haven’t listened to and zero guilt about it.

  • MzAnneThrope

    Brian, as a fellow relic from the communicational Dark Ages (prior to the advent of answering machines, the divinely inspired Caller ID, voicemail, and mobile/cell phones), I just wanted to thank you for reminding me of what a huge pain in the ass it was to have to share a single phone with an entire household when I was growing up, including the waiting at home by the phone followed by repeated bitter disappointments when the hoped-for-caller frequently turned out to be a telemarketer, or worse yet, an endlessly blabby relative… 😀

    (Of course, on the other hand, remember those wonderful olden days when you were actually free of the phone (and the attendant demands of all others on your time and attention) WHEN YOU WEREN’T HOME? And when no one could reach you (or anyone in your immediate vicinity) when you were out enjoying the beauty of nature? And when you could actually enjoy a meal out or a movie without some inconsiderate boob bellowing into an electronic device nearby? Sigh. Yeah, it’s definitely a tradeoff… 😉 )

    And Matt, this was a brilliant article, LOL funny, and spot-on! 😀

  • Eunice

    I’m just glad I barely get phone calls. Most of my friends and family just text me, but in those times when I do, the feelings you have just explained are mine as well.

  • Carson

    I know this has to be rude, but since I have asked people not to call and because they are extroverts they just don’t get it. So I look to see who is calling me, I don’t answer it, and then I just text them as soon as the phone stops ringing. Why is it I can imagine what it’s like to be an extrovert, but every extrovert I know just cannot understand, sympathize or empathize?!

  • Bonney

    Matt, I would like to suggest this article as a Super Bowl commercial with a Paul Harvey styling of God Made a Farmer; but instead it would be so GOD MADE INTROVERTS! Please say you can make it happen and get the word out about this. I loved the ‘phone ringing, should I answer it’ scenario. You nailed it!

  • Cindita

    ugh….so much of this is all too familiar!!! dreaded phone…

  • Karilisa

    Thanks Matt for this. You hit the nail on the head with the phone intruding into my life. I’m usually doing something – even if just “being”. If I answer then I must stop my life and often listen to an onslaught of someone else’s life. As an INFJ I do want to be helpful. I will remember your post and practice not answering…guilt-free!