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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim, Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Experimenting a different calling

Photo+of+Kiera+Donohue+using+a+pay+phone+to+symbolize+only+communicating+with+phone+calls+for+a+week
The Hawk News
Kiera Donohue ’25 made phone calls instead of texting for 48 hours. PHOTO: MADELINE WILLIAMS ’26/THE HAWK

I have always admired how often my parents give each other a phone call just to check in and update each other about their days. 

When I asked my mother why she doesn’t text instead, she responded, “It’s just nice to hear his voice.”

The majority of the time, my father answers quickly with, “What do you need? I’m working,”  which makes me wonder if the phone call was worthwhile.

I’m a big texter myself, averaging about 2 hours and 15 minutes a day on my phone’s iMessages app, almost a full hour more than any other app. When there’s a text sent in a group chat, more times than not, I’m the first to answer. While some might say this habit is embarrassing, I say it makes me reliable. 

But for 48 hours last semester, I decided to trade texts for phone calls. 

To succeed in this experiment, I turned off all notifications from my messaging app. I decided if I felt the need to send a text, I would add what I wanted to say to a log and make a phone call to that person later in the day.

I texted my family, roommates, close friends, boyfriend and anyone else I might text on the daily to let them know that I was partaking in this experiment. I encouraged them to call me as well instead of sending me texts. The majority of them responded with a sarcastic “Good luck!” or “That should be quite the challenge for you.” I agreed with them. I was not feeling confident in my success.

Peter Norberg, Ph.D., senior associate provost for academic and faculty support, leaves his phone on another floor of his house when he goes to bed. He said relationship development can’t happen effectively via texting.

“One of the biggest challenges that texting poses is that it doesn’t carry context and it doesn’t carry tone,” Norberg said. “So anytime that you’re initially trying to develop a relationship with someone, whether it be personal or professional, it’s much more effective to meet in person because you don’t have a shared context yet.”

Oftentimes when I receive a phone call, I immediately think, “Uh oh, I’m in trouble” or when I make a phone call, I am usually greeted with, “What’s wrong?” instead of “Hello.” I wondered if my reaction was generational.  

Phyllis Anastasio, Ph.D., professor of psychology, said while she believes phone call phobia is more pronounced in younger generations, it ultimately depends on how someone grew up.

Anastasio also said some people are afraid to make phone calls out of fear they will be judged negatively for saying the wrong thing. 

“[With] texting, the more separation we have with that other person, the greater the likelihood is that we’re going to be misunderstood,” Anastasio said. “Yet, I think there’s that fear of just being negatively evaluated.”

shenid bhayroo, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, writing and journalism, said he tells his students to avoid reaching out to sources for news reporting by way of text, or email, for that matter.

“Based on my experience being a journalist for so many years, you get more of a chance that someone will agree to your request if you do it in person, rather than email, definitely not texting,” bhayroo said. “Texting is with someone that you’re familiar with.”

I started the experiment at 12:30 p.m. on a Tuesday. A few flaws in my system revealed themselves almost immediately. As a MacBook Air user, I forgot to turn off text notifications on my computer and answered them without hesitation.

My first phone call was to my roommate, who knew I was participating in this experiment and was only a floor below me. “What are you doing for dinner tonight?” would have been so much simpler to send over in a text message. I realized how lazy texting has made me in my own home. Why did I feel the need to text my roommate from the floor above instead of taking a few short steps to verbally ask it?

For the next few hours, I worked on schoolwork, and I felt so much more productive than usual, as I didn’t feel the need to check my messages from every group chat text. 

On the second day of the experiment, when it came time to update my sister living in Maryland, a phone call wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. What did become frustrating was not being able to look at the pictures my sister was texting me of people from our high school who came up in our discussion during our phone call. 

When my mother called at 4 p.m. that Wednesday, she mentioned it was so nice to hear my voice. I was quickly reminded of how important it is to call your loved ones. Nothing compares to being able to hear the raw emotions a phone call can hold. 

Anastasio said some phone calls send a message that texts don’t.

“It’s more of a conscious effort to pick up the phone and do that,” Anastasio said. “It also brings us one degree closer to that person.”

After 48 hours, I found myself not even wanting to check the messages I had missed over the course of the experiment. When I did so, the most important text message I had missed was from a roommate reminding us to empty the lint trap of the dryer so the house didn’t catch on fire. That was probably worth a phone call anyway. 

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