As a ‘millennial’ one of the most persistent stereotypes I’ve heard is that we’re terrified of the telephone.
Perhaps I can sympathise with where this started – after all, we are the generation who had mobiles for as long as we can remember, and so got used to the efficiency of texting and instant messaging. Once we reached the age where we had people other than our school friends to communicate with, texting would no longer do, and admittedly it was a bit of a transition to dialling people up. This contrasts with previous generations who spent their childhoods on the landline with their friends, and so their only transition was to that of business speak.
However, while I accept some difference there, the jump to us being phone-phobic I would say is a bit silly. It’s not like we never picked up the phone before adulthood, and I personally had 10 or so numbers memorised even with the option for adding digital contacts. I think perhaps someone sees their niece opt for an online booking at a hair salon, or order their pizza with the app, and it becomes a case of confirmation bias.
Having worked on a calling project (getting info for University league tables), I feel like if anything I should have ended the job with crippling phone anxiety – even though it wasn’t cold calling, some calls were strange, uncomfortable and even downright abusive, although the vast, vast majority of people I spoke to were absolutely lovely. Still, according to a YouGov survey, the two largest age groups working in call centres are 18-24 and 25-29, who often spend whole days fielding complaints and dealing with people’s worst sides over the telephone – maybe we aren’t the generation who is scared of the phone, but the generation who knows how to steel ourselves just in case.
At the end of the day, a telephone conversation is just a conservation, and there is no one generation who is better or worse at basic human interaction. Maybe millennials sometimes prefer to send a text, but cut us a break: we were raised this way.
Here at Dawn Chorus, we prefer to pick up the phone wherever possible – while sometimes a text or email works fine, there is no substitute for the straight-forwardness and real human emotion found in a telephone call.