Last week my friend was asked out by a guy who called her on the phone instead of texting her.
We all reacted with shock and awe.
“He called? Seriously?”
“He actually called you on the phone?”
“This guy already sounds like a keeper.”
Our reactions were genuine. They still are. Looking back on this conversation a few days later, I still already like this guy. I like that he called her on the phone. I like that he put himself out there and was willing to possibly be turned down in real time, with another human being living and breathing on the other end of the line, capable of witnessing his (possible) rejection.
What I can’t wrap my head around, though, is how we were all so surprised, so shocked. How this story stood out to us. How we were so impressed that one human being spoke to another in a manner that didn’t allow for time to come up with the perfect (texted) answer, to think it over, to analyze every single word in every sentence before it was sent off into the universe, to be responded to with an equally thought-out and well-crafted answer.
Even if we didn’t subconsciously realize it, we were basically astonished that this guy did what humans are inherently programmed to do: to connect in a pure, uninhibited, and unaffected manner.
We thought of this guy as brave, bold, different.
And he is. It is absolutely terrifying to put yourself out there, to gather up enough courage to attempt to connect with another person and to know that there is a 50% chance that they will say no. Rejection hurts. Rejection stings. Rejection is painful.
But the part that is so weird to me, the part that makes me sad, is how amazed we were at an act that was once so common, so regular, so necessary.
I’m sure it was just as terrifying in 1963 or 1986 or even 1998 to pick up the phone and lay your pride on the line, only for another human to do with it what they wished. But people still did it. People called and stuttered through a clumsy conversation, knowing it would all be worth it if they had even a slight chance for a ‘yes’ at the end of it. People did this (and sometimes still do) because our very nature is wired to crave love. We’ll risk our pride, we’ll risk judgment, we’ll risk an embarrassing rejection story that could make its away around town – as long as it means that we might have the opportunity to finally experience a deep connection to another person. And if they do say yes, if we do get to go on a wonderful date and maybe even several more, then that sweaty, awkward phone call only makes the experience all the more worth it.
But this kind of thing isn’t happening anymore, at least not to the point where we’re not completely taken aback when it does happen. Little by little, the risk is becoming smaller and smaller. The nerves, the anxiety, the adrenaline – which are not always inherently bad things – are going away.
And it’s all being replaced by a simple “Going out tonight?” or a vague, apparently carefree “Let me know where you end up” text. No risk, no rejection.
And those are even some of the more kind approaches. Because for every nice guy (or girl) like the one above who actually called my friend on the phone, there’s several more who will react to a rejected Tinder message with a “Whatever, ur ugly anyway” response.
No wonder a phone call is so chivalrous these days. Our expectations are lower. Our brains are wired not to expect too much from anyone.
No wonder a phone call is so dazzling and incredible these days. It’s a rare peek into the vulnerability that lies within every human – a trait we seem to have very much forgotten. And one that I’m not sure how we’re going to get back.
If you’re wondering, my friend did respond to the brave soul’s phone call with a “yes.”