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Why It's Important to Talk on the Phone Instead of Texting

Texting Is Great, but It's Important to Pick Up the Phone and Call Your Friends

THE O.C., Rachel Bilson, (Season 3), 2003-2007. photo:  WB / Courtesy: Everett Collection

A lot of people don't enjoy talking on the phone; you're either a "phone person" or you're not. Personally, I've always loved a good, long phone call. In middle school, I could spend hours chatting it up with friends I'd been hanging out with 20 minutes earlier. When my best friend worked as a nanny one Summer, she called me every day to talk while the kids napped. And I spent a lot of time in high school curled up in bed (or my beanbag chair) to talk to a boyfriend — on the family landline, of course.

I definitely don't have time to enjoy as many leisurely phone conversations anymore, but I do talk to a friend or two just about every day, and it makes me a better person. I left my hometown about a decade ago, so I have a lot of long-distance friendships, and the group text just isn't enough sometimes. As for friends who live nearby, I tend to call them fairly often, too, because there's something to be said for a true, real-time connection and the energy boost that comes from even a short conversation with someone you care about. Sure, texting is efficient, but the best ways to show love aren't efficient, so every once in a while, yep, you need to pick up the phone.

"Sure, texting is efficient, but the best ways to show love aren't efficient, so every once in a while, yep, you need to pick up the phone."
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Okay, you don't NEED to pick up the phone, and if you're not a "phone person," by all means, live your life and text it up! Be the "@" queen in Instagram comments! I agree that a full-on phone call can sometimes feel daunting or annoying. A friend recently joked that she couldn't remember the last time her phone rang, and "thank God for that." I knew what she meant, because I do a double take every time I see someone's actually calling and I realize it's not just another text or push notification.

We're all accustomed to that quick, address-it-whenever-you-want communication style, so a phone call is jarring and oddly disruptive — a surprising interruption that puts us on the spot. Even when it's not a great time to talk, though, I still try to answer a call whenever it's from a friend. (Unknown numbers? Forget it. I'm not a psychopath.) The thing is, phone calls seem stressful because we feel pressure to let them go on for hours like it's 2002 or something, but five minutes with a best friend is better than nothing.

I was born in the late '80s, which means I'm an "old millennial" who didn't live in an all-texting, all-the-time world until college. Before then, there were precious phone minutes to be considered and games of Snake to be played on my brick of a Nokia. Instead of popping into the group chat to gossip, we'd wait until everyone was at the lunch table or we'd hope our best friends signed into AIM after dinner. Is that why I still love talking on the phone? Is there a sense of nostalgia? Maybe. Probably. In any case, I genuinely look forward to talking to a friend, whether it's an hour-long conversation during my commute or a 10-minute chat while I walk to the coffee shop.

That rapid, back-and-forth rhythm of a conversation with someone you love, their familiar voice, hearing an actual laugh instead of seeing a cry-laugh emoji — it's good for the soul. It lets time stretch out a bit and forces you to focus on the connection rather than moving between a text, an article, and an Instagram story, then back again. You get to sink into the moment, soak up the intimacy, and, every once in a while, feel like you're 16 again.

Image Source: Everett Collection
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