Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Bring Bring on the silence

I've decided I pretty much hate all forms of communication apart from a cat's purr. This opinion changes from time-to-time, but there's one constant - I REALLY hate the phone.

If you're reading this and you're a friend of mine, please don't phone me. If you're reading this and you work with me, please don't phone me.

When I was a child, I loved the phone. You could talk to distant friends and relatives. It was magical. Now it's just the equivalent of Claudius dripping poison into old Hamlet's ear.

When the phone rings, I no longer think "oooh!". I think "what now?". At best, it'll be someone trying to sell me PPI. Otherwise, these days people only really use the phone for bad things.

If it's work, it's seen either as a humane way of firing you or for demanding extra stuff from you immediately. If an email says "Great. Can you call me to chat this through?" it's never a good sign either. Similarly, if someone rings me to say "Good news!" on closer examination it's always bad news disguised with a cheery tone.

I was talking to someone who is brilliant at managing computer programmers. He says the trick is leaving them alone. Don't pop over to see how they're doing, don't drag them into meetings every half hour - just leave them alone for nice, long blocks of thinking. If they decide to check Facebook or gmail, that's fine - they've selected to do that. But don't run over and interrupt them. And whatever you do, don't ring them.

It was cheering to hear this. If I'm working and the phone rings, it can often take me about an hour to get back to where I was. By which time I'll probably need another cup of tea. When I had a proper job, I was forever on the phone. It was nice. It was chatty. We were always phoning each other, for advice, for gossip, for setting up meetings. And, at hometime, I'd wonder why I needed to stay late for a couple of hours to get the day's work done.

This is beginning to make me sound like an information hermit. But I am at my most productive at my parents'. They live in a mobile phone blackspot, and the nearest internet is a walk down the hill. I can get days of work done in a morning, and still find time for an afternoon nap.

Currently, I'm researching contact lenses that will beam emails into our eyeballs and drill phonecalls through our skulls. It doesn't just sound like medieval torture. It's also my idea of hell.

I prefer the silence.


Rob Stradling said...

A hate them too. Not because they damage my productivity - you can't kill a ghost - but I completely lose my people skills on a phone call. If you ring me - and I probably shouldn't tell people this - you can get me to agree to do pretty much anything, so long as I can put the phone down. I can't process disembodied voices in a conversational context. If I can't see you, I basically can't hear you. Or rather, I can, but I can't work out what you want and why, and I don't feel able to ask questions or make judgements. It's like trying to talk to an incoming meteorite. Nothing in the world fills me with more horror than knowing I need to make a phonecall, and there are few ordeals I'd not suffer to avoid one.

If you "chat" on phones, I will check the back of your head for zips.

JahTeh said...

My mobile is so old that iphones refuse to call it. It's a Nokia, it takes calls, sometimes, and makes calls. It's indestructible and will probably survive a nuclear attack and take calls from whatever mutant cockroach surfaces.
But in their wisdom, the rail service will now have silent carriages where mobile calls are banned, it's just a shame that the trains aren't running half the time.