Phone’s still great for business…socially, it’s dying

That headline really means audio-only phone calls.  The (“smart”)phone as the swiss army knife of communications tools will never die.  LONG LIVE THE PHONE!

May I present the evidence?  I call to the stand this blog post by Larry Lisser, titled All I wanted for my birthday was a lousy phone call.

Despite having three phone numbers plus Skype (what? no mention of VSee, Larry?), as well as phones themselves, and lots of friends and family, he received only one, 1, phone call…from his 73 year-old father on a cell phone.  Here’s what he got instead:

14 Skype IM’s

2 BlackBerry Messengers pings

1 BlackBerry Pinning ping

8 Facebook Wall writings and messages

2 Twitter DM’s

2 LinkedIn Messages

4 Text Messages

2 Transcribed Voice Messages

2 Email messages

The audio-only call will always be a useful business tool.  Immediate synchronous communication that doesn’t require scheduling or being in a specific office or having your shirt ironed is undeniably important.

It will also be important to those who, like Larry’s dad, are not “plugged in” and haven’t embraced IM, eMail, and social media micro-blogging.

But for everyone else, the audio-only call is dying as a social vehicle.  Here’s my take on why, as I put it in the comments on Larry’s site:

1) Your friends figure you’re really busy catching up with other friends, having birthday parties, writing blogs, doing research, taking other phone calls (ironic), etc. etc. etc. A phone call means commitment to spend time catching up that you may not have time for. So to not intrude, they’ll just leave an IM.

2) They themselves are busy. Not being nearby, therefore unable to participate in any parties, they’re going about their own lives. There’s also that committed-to-catch-up thing involved with a phone call. They haven’t forgotten about you, though, so…IM.

3) There’s probably some perception, due to Twitter and Facebook et.al., that you and they are already somewhat caught up. Why call and ask what you’ve been up to when Foursquare tells me you’re eating pizza right now?

Sadly, those of us who are plugged in are increasingly discovering that despite all the communication we have with distant friends, we actually TALK to each other less and less.  I wonder how that will affect relationships in future generations.

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