Monthly Archives: August 2014

While You Were Out


Leave a message for these–they’re out

Is anyone ever “out” anymore?

I ran across some of these pink message pads while cleaning out a drawer recently. Why I still have them, I don’t really know. But there they were, and I got a little nostalgic.

If someone calls me on my old-school land line, I can screen the call and decide if I want to answer it or not.

If I don’t, I’m “out.” Most of the calls we get on that number seem to be robots anyway, and they don’t leave a message.

If someone calls me on my cell phone, I am never “out,” but I may be “off.”

Should we have “While you were off” messages? No, that would be ridiculous.

The concept of being out is, frankly, outdated–and has been for as long as we’ve had cell phones and in previous years, pagers. I’ve noticed that they’ve finally stopped asking people to turn off their pagers in the theater. And getting people to stop checking their phones or lap texting is a losing battle, I’m afraid.

I’ve read articles that say having actual conversations on a phone are a thing of the past among the generations of kids who look at rotary dial phones and wonder what they are. Even the phone icon on their phones looks like a relic. The phone is used as a means of communication, sure, but just don’t use it for actual talking.

I remember having long conversations on the phone–with friends, parents, etc. Now, it seems silly–why spend an hour talking when I can type faster and reach more people faster and communicate when it suits me. Sure, nuance is harder to pick up in an email or text, but isn’t that what emoticons are for? One picture can be worth 140 characters–or even more!

When my dinosaur of a land line rings, I no longer feel that old impulse to pick up. It may have taken years, but now I realize that it’s my choice, both to pick it up and to engage in conversation. That’s kind of liberating, I have to admit.

So, I’m out when I say I’m out, not when I’m actually “out.”

These days, it seems as though out isn’t so much a physical state as it is a state of  mind.

Please leave a message after the beep.


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