Ring-a-Ding-Ding - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Years and years ago, I was having a bit of trouble connecting with a friend. He was notoriously flaky and I could, pretty consistently, predict that he would not answer his phone when I called. So, I took the extra step to name and shame him into making time for me through social media.
Now, this was back in the light and early days of Facebook - back when it was all about seeing what your high school friends were up to and sharing pictures of your lunch, not influencing elections, spreading racism and hate and convincing idiots that vaccinations make you magnetic - when people had fun using this pioneer of social media and it didn’t trigger depression through hours of doom-scrolling.
So, when we had finally agreed on a day and time to chat, what I did was create a Facebook event centred around the phone call. I’d invite a few of our friends to the “event” and add a bunch of phone-themed pictures just to bump up its authenticity as a respected member of the phone call event community.
The first one (I scrolled back in my past Facebook events to find this - it was in 2009) was scheduled to last six hours (according to the event) and its location was listed as “The Communication Super Highway”. (I may have just had a bit more time on my hands back then.) And, to be clear, I’m not sure if that call happened, because there was a second installment in the event series just one week later, scheduled to take three hours, so that would suggest that it didn’t.
But, it was fun. We had friends encouraging us to make the call and following up to see how it went. Simpler times indeed.
I guess the point of all this is that, years ago, I would (clearly) go out of my way to make a phone call happen. I heard someone else talk about this (not on the phone) the other day. This was in the very early era of smartphones, meaning that cell phones were used primarily for - get this - calling people. We all had cell phones, so we would just call one another to kill five or 10 minutes here or there. Apps were in their infancy and it was still a whole to-do to check your e-mail from your phone (plenty of spinny-ball work on your Blackberry might have been involved). Even texting was a pain for those of us who didn’t have the aforementioned Blackberry. (Remember pressing a number button three times to get to the third letter associated with that number?)
Anyway, this is all just a big rambling to set the stage for the fact that I have dramatically changed course in the years that followed.
Now, I hang my head anytime my phone makes a noise (though that happens a lot less frequently since I have discovered the power and the glory of the ‘do not disturb’ setting). People don’t call to tell you that you’ve won a cruise (well, they do, but that pre-recording is a bit untrustworthy), it tends to be something bad, or at least something that calls for more work, at least in my case.
Just like the days of fun Facebook events, I miss being excited when the phone rings. (On a side note, this also goes for mail - we used to get letters, now it’s all bills.)
If the words in this space encourage you to do anything this week, I suppose it should be to call a friend for no reason at all other than to share some good news or catch up on some positive events. The word “pandemic” should be forbidden.
We all need a little motivation to pick up the phone (or to do anything, really) these days and it shouldn’t take a smartass Facebook event to do it.