I come from an era where pagers and pay phones were personal communication devices. Sure, I was young in that era, but I’m old enough to remember feeling cool with my see-thru blue pager clipped onto my belt. To be honest, it never had any service on it, but that didn’t matter because I at least looked like someone other than my parents might try to get in touch with me. As technology has evolved, our possibilities of being easily reached have drastically increased. Currently, damn near all of us have modern phones with touch screens, multiple social media accounts logged in, built in GPS, compasses and, yes, even the power to make a phone call. With these advances, we have gotten so used to easily reaching just about anyone that we often believe that when we can’t reach them initially, it’s time to use every avenue we can to get in contact with them, assuming that they must want to be reached one of these ways. We all know one person who doesn’t know how to respect the space, the curve, or the wait. For them, here are the golden rules of modern mobile communication.
One call will suffice, unless it’s an emergency. Gone are the days of calling someone’s house phone (do people still have those?) and missing them. Now, thanks to technology, we have logs for calls that are made, received and missed. If you call someone and happen to not reach them, repeatedly calling them in hopes that you can annoy them into answering your call is usually unnecessary and pretty rude in the case of non-emergencies. Instead, one should remember to check oneself before one wrecks oneself. Call once. Wait. Do not repeat.
Do not leave a voice message. I know at one point in time it was okay to leave a voice message. However, in 2016 when you leave someone a voice message, unless it’s a business related call, you’re annoying the hell out of the person on the receiving end of the message. Some phones have made it easier to check voice messages by having an app in which you can just tap the message and listen, sure. But some others still have to go through that process of dialing that cryptic number or pressing and holding on the number 1 on the phone, which then leads you to having to put in your voicemail password, except you can’t remember it because the last time you used it was in 2006 when your grandmother left you a message about her new meatloaf recipe and you haven’t needed to use it since then until today when some socially inept person you call a friend decided to leave you a voice message. Understanding that struggle usually leads people to not even bother going through the process of checking the damn message, leaving that icon at the top of their screen until time indefinite, therefore making you the jerk who left an unwanted icon on their screen for months. Don’t be a jerk; don’t leave a voice message. Just send a text instead.
Avoid using speakerphone unless you’re in a private setting. To be clear, feeling like you’re in your own world on a crowded bus as you head to work is not a private setting. It is, in fact, very public. Just ask any of the 23 people staring at you in silence wondering when you escaped the zoo and who told you about cell phones. Speakerphone conversations are one of the most unnecessary and annoying of phone call etiquette fails. If you’ve ever wanted to make a statement that you have no bearing on social norms, this is a great place for you to start, followed by walking around naked with a helium-inflated balloon tied to your private bits.
Use text messaging as text messaging, not an instant messenger. If you’re old enough to remember AIM chatrooms, you probably had to slowly curb your desire to hit send after two words just to give those words emphasis. Although some service providers have limits to how many characters may be in a single text message, the carriers also do the work of separating them for you. So it’s better to write a 600 character text message and sending once than it is to send two, three, four, or five words at a time because you want the emotion of the message to reflect the way it’s processing in your brain. What doing this will actually reflect is that someone needs to take your phone, spank your thumbs with a wooden ruler, and punt your phone across the street to teach you some manners.
Make an adult decision and know when that needs to be an email. On the opposite side of the ring from the people who keep sending messages that are too short are the people who send novels. In most instances, it’s likely better to call and express yourself. However, these novels are usually common when someone is feeling particularly butt-hurt about something and it’s time for the other person to suffer from the onslaught of their textual emotions. Of course, this is how most of us attempt to look mature because we really want to tell people to go f*ck themselves, but instead we need to act like adults and use a plethora of words we wouldn’t actually use in conversation to make the other person feel like we’re being really intellectual about this whole thing. If it fills up too much of your screen, I don’t want it on mine. Send it in an email so I can get a cup of tea later on tonight and read through it all on a larger screen. As a final note, if you know you have a lot to say and you know the message can be misconstrued over text communication, be sure to simply text the person you need to speak with to ask when they will be free to talk on the phone, instead.
Stop opening conversations you’re not going to be engaged in. I’m horrible at texting if I’m busy and I know this. I’ve begun texting people back and telling them I am busy and will reply later. Sometimes, I actually follow through on that. But what I’ve stopped doing is starting a conversation via text message, getting a reply instantly, and replying back hours, days, and sometimes weeks later. It may not be the most inconsiderate of moves, but I think this one is well logged under the umbrella of annoying.
Social Media Etiquette
Don’t use someone’s social media posting against them. It’s commonplace to reach out to someone by call or by text, get no reply, go onto social media, and see them actively posting online. This should not be used as ammo against the person, nor is it a reason to continue to text them to notify them that they are visible to your beady little eyes and therefore should be replying to you instead of notifying the timeline that they have no mayonnaise left.
Expect the opposite and accept it with some juice. If you’re a particularly needy person, you’ve probably decided to let the person you’re trying to text or call know you see them on social media by directly replying to their post. I assume that the thought here is that you can guilt the person into finally reaching back out to you or maybe you want them to know that you found them, as if it’s a game of Where’s Waldo. I don’t know where Waldo is, but I can tell you where the pendejo who can’t wait for me to reply to them is. If you take this drastic step to get someone’s attention, please be ready to accept them now intentionally ignoring you, just to put you on ice for a little bit.
Hint: he/she lives in your mirror. Go take a look. Try to sneak up on them.
Do not tag a mutual friend or their significant other to tell them to relay the message that you want to talk. If you’re still taking tips at this point, you should probably go outside and acknowledge this thing called the sky. Spend time smelling some flowers. Maybe hug a tree, but cease and desist with the aggressive contacting. The more people you get involved, the more people you are lining up to posse up together in a global effort to avoid you by any means necessary.
In conclusion, there are simple rules to getting in touch with that person you just need to get in contact with now:
- Call once, don’t leave a voice message, don’t do it on speaker unless you’re home.
- Send full text messages, just not full enough that the length makes Stephen King want to write longer books, and stop starting conversations you ultimately won’t be involved in.
- Don’t use social media as a weapon of friendships destruction, don’t stalk people across platforms, and don’t try to tag a friend in to help you in your endeavors, as this isn’t the WWF.