When speaker Ryan Jenkins was approached by an audience member saying that his Millennial workforce was much more comfortable with texting compared to phone calls, he took it as further evidence that this was indeed the case and identified five reasons why this might be.
To his credit, Jenkins dots the “i” with some of his observations. Chief among them is the presumptuous nature of the practice, which implies that you drop everything to pick up the phone, without any fair warning as to what the caller has to say and how it will affect your workflow, or for how long. But that’s where I draw the line regarding the negative side of voice calls. Characterizations like time consuming, distracting, superfluous, and ineffective are the product of a subjective analysis, even though none of these are false either.
Moreover, it’s also true that Millennials are much more drawn to messaging than they are to traditional phone conversations. I can personally vouch for this. But somehow I find the best explanation for this to be a completely different one: a subconscious process that considers all these aspects and processes them into a single, very deep, and very negative feeling that we’ve all experienced at least once in our lifetime. That feeling is anxiety.
I did a little digging to try and confirm this, and I found a similar analysis shared by the Millennial Generation Research Review, which revealed earlier this year that phone calls feel bizarrely invasive these days, and especially so to the Milennial generation (born between the early 80s and the early 2000s). Ian Bogost, who covered the topic for The Atlantic in August, sums it up best: “When asynchronous, textual media like email or WhatsApp allow you to intricately craft every exchange, the improvisational nature of ordinary, live conversation can feel like an unfamiliar burden.”
And according to senior advertising major Alyssa Grant, Millennials use text mainly because they just want to get straight to the point. I’d say Alyssa nails it even better. The mere pleasantries associated with beginning and ending a phone conversation are a drag, not to mention bad audio, throat clearing etc. But let’s get one thing straight, folks. It’s one thing to look at why a certain demographic might prefer different means of communication when it comes to work, it’s another altogether to say that phone calls suck. Would you like Help Desk to troubleshoot your PC via SMS? Didn’t think so.