The Argument: Text vs Call

Your phone does both but everyone has their favourite form of communication

Illustrations: Amber Pretorius

Without going all Marshall McLuhan on your ass we’d like to investigate what’s better – phone calls or messaging. Sure there’s no reason why you can’t do both, and you probably already do, but if you’re anything like us then we’re guessing that one is used somewhat begrudgingly. Each form of communication has its particular guidelines and rules and you’re either down with these or you’re not. Here’s Phone Guy and Text Girl motivating for their preferred way of finding out whether you’re going to that place to do that thing…

Phoning is Fun

It’s also that much more honest to have a conversation in real time. There’s none of those text politics where you have to wait around to reply in case you appear too eager. People don’t take seven-minute pauses mid telephone conversation in order to appear busier. Oh, and you can’t screenshot a telephone call, which when done to a text, and then shared, deserves the VIP section in hell.

Nowadays there’s an app for everything – including a few for conversation – which is why I prefer to chew the fat old-school. For my birthday I get hundreds of HB DM notes and plenty of Whatsapp messages. Those people who phone me are the ones who get Christmas cards.

My biggest problem with texting is that the message is so easily misconstrued. It’s really hard to convey sarcasm properly and there have been numerous times where I’ve been chatting to somebody and they’ve taken my joke the wrong way. There’s no font for sarcasm. Actually there is, kind of, and Stuff editor, Toby Shapshack, inserts one of these -§ - into his written communication whenever he’s being intentionally funny. But the problem with that little character is that you then have to explain that it denotes sarcasm and there’s nothing that kills something faster than having to explain why it’s funny. Kind of like those people who shout, "No pun intended!" whenever they’ve made a pun. Which is why I insist on phoning whenever possible.

After spending all day staring at a computer screen, and then alternating this with the screen in my hand and the big screen in my lounge, it’s nice to hear a human voice. Even if it’s coming at me through a telephone wire. Whenever a text is bouncing back and forth like a tennis rally I eventually type THIS ENDS NOW! and then phone. Also, why spend seven minutes typing something out when you can pick up the phone and be, like, “YO!” Then you can hear by the inflection in my voice that I didn’t actually like Tammy’s outfit when I say, “I loved Tammy’s outfit today.” Face-time is even better because then you can see the way that I roll my eyes and you’ll know exactly where I’m coming from. Also, if I ever need to confront someone on something then it’s got to be the phone. Otherwise it’s just like a he-said she-said marathon. Verbal communication makes it possible to convey just how passionate you are about whatever it is that you’re getting so excited about. What’s the texting equivalent – typing in all caps? Puh-leeze… A human voice will always be more intimate than a computer’s font. So forget it if you think a 'HB!' post on my Facebook wall means anything, and that goes ditto for texting or a Whatsapp. Just pick up the phone and call me. And while you’re at it, phone your mom, too. – Alex Graham


Texting is Tops

Is it just me, or is using your phone to actually make or take a call the most anxiety-inducing thing, ever? One of the more traumatic incidents that comes to mind is when I was interning in an open-plan office and my dad phoned me on the work phone because I’d been ignoring his calls on my phone (I was, you know, working) and it was a lot like being in a conference call while I mumbled one-word answers back at him. Now that I’m no longer an intern, conference calls are the next circle on my personal version of hell. And if you're not hard work-inclined, bear in mind that by texting, like Skype and G-chat and Facebook messaging, I was not only able to waste time at work, I could still look productive while doing it. The slacker generation invented this stuff for a reason, even if they're acting all judgey about it now.

Arguing on the phone is like arguing in real life where it just goes in circles, and becomes about who ever can shout the loudest. When texting you can formulate an argument, and then because there’s a transcript at the ready you just scroll up to see what was said before and use that to call bullshit on whatever else has been said. If your arguee is a Thetan level 7-style toastmaster debate club laureate, you can beat them by simply replying much, much later, saying that you’d fallen asleep.

That or a well placed “k” will get a significant other so angry that his hands will be shaking and he’ll be causing water damage to his phone by dripping tears all over it. I know this because he’s usually misspelling words and I cheer myself up by Facestalking an ex or checking on my old Tinder profile. JK, you're just paranoid. The point is to reply sporadically.

Phone calls are rude, man! Don’t shoehorn your way into my life thinking I’m sitting around waiting to speak to you. Even when I have to call I send a warning text first.

I just hate the phone. Maybe it’s because I prefer thinking about what I’m going to say before I say it instead of blurting out the first dumb thing I happen to think of. If you think this argument is all over the place, you should’ve seen it seventeen drafts ago. Check out this next segue if you don’t believe me.

With phone calls there are no first drafts, consulting with friends or curating the perfect emoji combination that sums up your feels. Texting is totes better for what my maths teacher used to call 'chit-chat'. Message alert tone over ringing phone – that's all there is to say. – Melly Neil