I find cell phones to be a bit of a hassle in writing contemporary fiction. In my experience, it’s the rare teen who isn’t permanently attached to their phone. It’s harder to make your characters isolated.
During my teen years, I spent a ridiculous amount of time on the phone. Because this was back in the day way before cell phones ~ or even cordless ~ I would pull the cords around the corner into my room and spend most nights chatting for hours. My parents gave up and got call waiting so at least the line wasn’t always busy. (And yes, it was blue.)
There were the required calls from the boyfriend, the best friend update calls, the misc. check-ins, and best of all ~ the insider view from a friend who happened to be a boy. Those calls were the longest. When the phone rang, I didn’t know who would be there – no caller ID!
I still like to talk on the phone when I have the time. Sometimes phone calls are more direct and focused than an actual face-to-face conversation. There’s a different sort of energy.
And yet, I am thankful that there were times I was out of touch as a teen. I feel lucky to have not been distracted by cell phones – not to mention all the other social media. I am pretty sure I would have been way more neurotic and angsty than I already was.
My kids have been quite different about phones. I’ve accused them of being either afraid or incapable of actually talking on a telephone. Sometimes I beg them to simply call – it’s so much easier to make plans through a 30 second conversation instead of a 30 minute text exchange. They simply don’t talk on their phones. In some ways they are more connected to their friends than I ever was. Primarily they text and Facebook (haven’t figured out if that really can be a verb).
But my biggest boy got up at the crack of dawn to chat with a friend from college. An actual phone conversation. Sometimes you need to hear someone’s actual voice.
And so today, I’m feeling a little wistful for friends I haven’t talked to in way too long.
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK