Novelist and culture writer (and my friend) Teddy Wayne has a story in the New York Times style section about how nobody talks on the phone anymore.
Citing such disparate sources as Taylor Kitsch, a.k.a. “Tim Riggins”, memoirist Domenica Ruta and himself, Wayne looks at our rising preference for sending texts over making calls. This makes life for the rising numbers of us who work from home particularly quiet, and even more so for those who work from home and don’t have a partner or kids to return to at the end of the day.
Wayne’s sources are mostly creative-types, which means, as he notes, they have some antisocial tendencies. Still, most of them express feelings of loneliness from the days, sometimes weeks, of silence.
This is incredibly depressing, right? The article never quite arrives at that conclusion, but tucked inside those wistful reflections on the quiet life and a reference to the new movie “Her,” about a man who falls in love with a computerized voice (albeit Scarlett Johansson’s), is a very tangible sadness.
The good news is, there is a cure for this. And it is so simple, and essentially free, and really you have no excuse.
Call your mother. If not your mother, your father, a sibling, an old friend, or anyone else who you care about and cares about you. It should be someone whose affection for you is in no way tangled up with your lofty ambitions and petty vanities, and is more interested in sharing small observations and a laugh instead of learning about how your career is going or what kindergarten your kid got into.
(A. If you don’t have anyone who you care about and who cares about you, I’m very sorry, and you either need to seek help or start apologizing immediately. B. If everyone you know is tangled up with your lofty ambitions and petty vanities, it is time to leave New York.)
Not only will calling your mother make her, and hopefully you, happy, it will actually help you focus too. Studies have shown that a quick chat with a loved one can work like a cup of coffee or a brisk walk in making you feel energized and ready to tackle the day.
Also, there is evidence that those who lack regular confidants tend to experience more depression, anxiety and show “the same decline in physical functioning and vitality as heavy smokers and the most severely overweight.” This isn’t particularly surprising to me, but apparently might be to many others.
Now stop reading this and go make that call.
Photo credit Thinkstock
Call Your Mother
Elissa Strauss has written for the Forward over a number of years. She is a regular contributor to CNN, whose work has been published in a number of publications including The New York Times, Glamour, ELLE, and Longreads.