Game of Phones: What’s Lost Without Intonation

woman texting 2

“SORRY, I meant to send that message like six hours ago, but it didn’t go through!”

So read the message from my latest suitor on Tinder. Given the app’s notoriously wonky service, I actually did believe that this fellow was being genuine. Still, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes, not only at his played-out response, but at the fact that we, as a society and culture, have become so reliant on this particular type of technology to communicate and make plans. Call me a fuddy-duddy if you want, but I miss the good old-fashioned phone call.

When I was growing up in the pre-Internet and text messaging era, I remember tying up the line for hours with my best gal pals at eight- or nine-years old. And though I have absolutely no idea what we were chatting about for so long – probably 90s-hearthrob Devon Sawa or the previous night’s episode of Moesha — it was comforting and fun to connect with friends on that level outside of our elementary school classroom. Sure, I went through a phase where I was terrified of chatting on the horn right around middle school, like just about everyone else my age. And then, I grew out of it. Friendships, and even a romantic relationship that transitioned into long-distance after high school, necessitated a more personal connection, and a phone chat seemed to be the only solution. It wasn’t long before I overcame my phobia and rediscovered the magic of the telephone again. So when I realized that the medium of choice in the modern dating game was texting, I became a bit disheartened.

Not only do you miss out on potentially-important vocal inflection, but text can easily mask a dud of a dude until it’s too late and you’re face-to-face with him on your first date, desperately looking for a way out. While you can’t see their mannerisms, the ability to hear someone’s voice can go a long way towards building an initial attraction.

My mom’s always told me that I should insist on a phone call before I agree to meet someone in person. I used to chalk it up to her old-fashioned values and outdated mentality. But after my last date — with a still-very-closeted gay man — I began to reconsider what turned out to be her very sage advice. I’m pretty sure I could have picked up on the cues immediately, had I heard his voice, before we both ordered Amaretto Sours at the bar the next day.

Yet, when texts and tweets are the way of the world today, it feels a bit awkward — and oddly demanding — to ask a stranger to call me in order to make plans for a date. After all, it can just as easily be done in a few quick iMessages, right? Should I just be honest and tell him that it would probably save us some time and potential agony to have a quick conversation prior to meeting up? It can’t hurt to try, I guess. Let’s throw it back some and resurrect the phone call. WHO’S WITH ME?!?

After this next first date, that is… I just texted him to let him know I’m running late.

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