Even though cell phones are somewhat new to society, they’ve already been heavily embraced, and as a result, you’ve probably seen some bad cell phone etiquette. The following issue has a lot to do with etiquette, and it also has to do with sending a certain message.
The issue I’m referring to is returning a call with a text message. It happens all the time. You call someone up, only to go to their voicemail. You leave a message, something like, “hey, it’s me, give me a call when you get the chance.” And then you play the waiting game. Eventually the person does get back to you, but instead of a call, they send you a text message. This message will usually say something like, “sorry I missed your call,” followed by a generic excuse like, “I was at the gym” or “I was in a meeting.” Then, if you left a question in your voicemail, perhaps the person will include the answer in their text. If your voicemail did not include a question or a reason for the call, the text message will usually be short.
Is this a problem? Not always. Let’s say you didn’t need to talk, you just needed a specific piece of information from the person. Maybe you wanted to know what time a party was starting, or if a movie was worth the $10 admission price. This question could easily be responded to via text message, and then the important answer would be given without either party wasting their valuable free time.
But sometimes, we call people not for specific information, but to talk. Someone we want to find out how a vacation was, or see how a new job is going, or just tell someone that you’ve been thinking about them. This kind of communication can be just as important as the straight-up answer-seeking call, if not more so. You are reaching out to the person, letting them know that you care about their life and their well-being.
By responding to this kind of call with a text message, you are essentially saying, “I can’t be bothered talking to you on the phone.” Of course talking to someone on the phone takes up time. Sometimes it takes a lot of time. And a lot of human beings, especially when they reach adulthood, are extremely busy. Between work, errands, family and friends, children, and so many other things, we often don’t have time just “to chat.” But what we don’t always realize is that talking to someone has value, both the in connection you make with that person and the value you give to them by showing them how important they are.
When you send a text message to respond to a voicemail, you are giving the message that the person isn’t worth your time. Now, some people suck and probably aren’t worth your time, but if the person calling is someone you care about, try to think of the message you send when you respond with a dismissive text. If you ignore or dismiss someone’s calls often enough, your friendship will surely fade. Returning a call with a text message destroys relationships, and lives.