Talk Is Cheap, but Sometimes It's Worth More Than Text
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An old economic riddle asks, "What's more valuable, water or diamonds?" The answer: "It depends on where you are." In the desert, diamonds are worthless. By the side of a crystal-clear lake, water is cheap.
Verizon's new Share Everything Plans, announced yesterday (June 12) and taking effect June 28, turn calling minutes into water at the lakeside by making them unlimited. And in many cases it ups the cost of data, now the diamond of mobile services. [How Much Smartphone Data Do I Need?]
Offering unlimited minutes doesn't mean people will talk more. It's acknowledging that they are talking less and will keep doing so. After all, you don't give away something that's actually valuable.
As an old man (well, a GenXer), I still call people on my phone — even on a super-techy smartphone. But fewer and fewer people are doing so, and they have been opting for minimum talk plans.
Even 450 minutes per month is overkill for tweens, teens and twenty-somes, who text, email and Facebook on their phone but are loath to talk into it. "I only use it to talk to my parents," one of my colleagues (who's 26) said the other day. He estimated he uses about 100 minutes per month.
In the technology world, nostalgia is pointless. There is no reason to miss a 56K modem or a 12-inch CRT screen. Like broadband and LCDs, the new, non-talking phone communication, from Facebook Messenger to Instagram, enriches the way we interact. [Best Smartphone with Keyboard: Motorola Droid 4]
But talking isn't simply the 56K modem of communication. And dropping it completely would be like choking off bandwidth.
I can talk a lot faster than I can type — especially if the latter requires a mess of silly emoticons to keep things clear. (I find myself typing ":-)" after any sentence that might possibly be taken the wrong way, and I write "Thanks!" way too much just to let people know I'm not taking them for granted.)
As a journalist I despise email. It allows the people I'm interviewing to carefully craft what they tell me – perhaps running it by the PR department first, rather than saying what they really mean. Instead of getting a frank, spontaneous conversation, I get another version of the press release. And asking a follow-up question requires a whole other exchange.
Frankly, you don't get to know anyone very well in text. Most everyone is clever and funny when they have time to think and type it out. That's a big glitch with online dating. I've had cases where the conversation flows easily — after the requisite delay as each of us types up clever quips and witty replies. But on meeting IRL ("in real life"), we face uncomfortable silences because we aren't getting on as well as we pretended we did. [How Dating Rules Differ for Men and Women]
Of course there are plenty of times when talking is a waste of time. Typing "b there in 5" is a lot quicker than calling to update the person you'll be meeting. Plus, you don't face the awkward task of explaining why you are late. You just throw in a ":-)".
Although you will have to face that uncomfortable conversation when you finally do arrive and see the person IRL.