Metatalktail Hour: If this thread is rockin', don't come knockin' March 12, 2022 1:58 AM   Subscribe

For our new round of Metatalktails, I want to ask about your communication headspace: When the phone rings, do you feel a) alarm, b) anticipation, c) curiosity, d) other? Same with doorbell / someone knocking at your front door.

How about when you glimpse a neighbor approaching in the hall / on the street? Are you a hang-and-chat person? Or a quicken-pace-to-get-inside-before-they-notice-you person? (aside from Covid considerations, I mean ... if we can even remember how that was.)

How about Skype / Zoom (etc.) "door-knocking"? SMS, messaging or DM alerts? Happy? Dreading? Neither? How about email? How about when you notice the mail carrier has left you something?

Are you fairly consistent in your attitudes, or does it vary wildly depending on platform / space? Are you very different from your partner, close friends, family? If so do you "get" each other, or not so much.

What are your likes and gripes about any of these (or other!) methods of communication?

Orrrrr, just talk about whatever else is on your mind (but not politics please and thank you!).
posted by taz (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 1:58 AM (68 comments total)

My first impulse upon any unsolicited communication is "Oh frog; what now!" Really, 90% of all communication brings a problem that I must somehow resolve or carry around psychically.

I am done with dealing. I am done with people. I work retail part time and that's all the forced pleasantry I have available.

Even friendly acquaintances who call need something out of me. I am stretched to the limit caring for my mom during her dementia decline.

I need a vacation from reality. I need there to be a stop to meanness and greed and evil in this world. I am Graaaaargh!

Thank you for your kind offer for communication. I have now dumped my graaaaargh on you, kind reader/listener. This concludes my Ted Talk.

Carry on.
posted by mightshould at 2:39 AM on March 12 [10 favorites]


When the phone rings, I usually feel frustration, to the point where I don’t pick up unless it’s one of a very small number of people (e.g. my mom) or a doctors office, since they are usually calling with something I need to know.

Texts I usually like, because I can mostly respond whenever I’ve finished what I’m doing.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:20 AM on March 12 [5 favorites]


Question, and I hope this isn't too annoying a derail: why do the MetaTalkTail Hour posts still exist on MetaTalk now that Free Threads are allowed on the blue? I bet they'd get more traction and comments on the Blue than here. Could this please be considered moving forward? Thanks!
posted by tiny frying pan at 4:56 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


I come from a family that was terrible with money so when caller ID became a thing, it was routine for us to not answer the phone if we didn't know the number. Ah, debt collectors.

This trickled down into my adult life. I don't answer the phone if I don't know the number even though I don't have debt collectors hounding me. I am not as fast as I should be with emails and I definitely do not come from a culture where you just drop in on people. (I have been known to not answer the door if the doorbell rings and I am not expecting anybody. NO THANK YOU.) Texts don't bother me--in fact, it's my preferred way of communicating with anyone--because most people return texts or expect return texts at my/our leisure. I will figure out how to not make small talk with people, sometimes even turning around or pretending to be really really interested in something nearby.

I am married to a man who is definitely the complete opposite of me when it comes to these things.
posted by Kitteh at 5:39 AM on March 12 [7 favorites]


I would not like to see these MetaTalkTail Hour posts go away. For one thing, they happen on the weekend when I have time to read and post. For another thing, there seems to be a different feel to the two threads. The TalkTail question encourages people to share about themselves rather than mostly just endlessly riffing on whatever early joke gets traction, which is what I've noticed seems to happen in the Free Threads. I'd like to see both stay.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:41 AM on March 12 [31 favorites]


Phone call: indifference, it is almost always a robocall

Text: curiosity - who is texting me, could be fun!

Person on the street: mostly pleasant vibes, although if I am in a hurry and it is a particularly chatty acquaintance, there may be internal sighs

Mail in the mailbox: best communication, much happiness

My boyfriend dislikes all of the above, but does like running into outdoor cats on his walks. If you see him in the neighborhood, please stay inside but let your cat out if you are so inclined. (This reminds me that one of our friendliest neighborhood cats, an enormous cream tabby, is named Putin, which has always been weird but is now excessively awkward. Luckily I just call all cats "good cat.")
posted by the primroses were over at 5:55 AM on March 12 [7 favorites]


When the phone rings, I don't answer it unless I know who it is. I do Google the phone number in hopes of finding out who it was, but that's not as useful as it used to be. Now all the results are just pages of every phone number in existence with no actual information about them, which is super annoying.

I don't want to run into my neighbors in the hall, or walking up to the door of my building. If someone knocks on my door I will look out of the peephole but I don't open it. Being in an apartment there are no windows on the door side of the unit so I don't have to actually hide. But I totally would if I needed to!

Email is fine, although it has been so long since I received a chatty email from anyone it would seem weird now. Texts are fine too. I like to communicate with my daughter over Messenger because I'm home at my computer 95% of the time and I like being able to type on an actual keyboard. My daughter laughed when she saw how I hunt and peck on my phone's keyboard. But I explained that I have no conscious awareness of where the various letters are on the keyboard, it's all muscle memory from learning to touch-type all those years ago. Predictive text on my phone is my friend.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:56 AM on March 12


I wasn't saying get rid of these threads, but move them to the Blue. They no longer belong on MetaTalk, in my opinion. Most users don't even see MetaTalk.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:26 AM on March 12


Text and phone are the reverse of five years ago. Now the sound of a text is like a dopamine hit; who's got something going on? And the phone tone is cringe time; it's gotta be something important and likely hard.

In-person it's so rare to run into neighbours that it's a pleasant surprise. Wasn't that way two years ago.

Zoom and FaceTime have become a lifeline to friends. Funny because I've had Skype forever but didn't use it much til now. It isn't the tech; it's the circumstances (and the need for contact, however imperfect).

Email is same as ever; most friends use other means to get in touch now, so it's business-related or nuisance stuff.

I like how people in my friend circle are becoming platform-agnostic; we jump between apps and devices without complaint in order to keep in touch. It wasn't always like this.. you used to have to almost bribe them to get off their preferred app.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 6:41 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


The free threads being on the blue are weird. Maybe it's just me but my headspace is different here vs there and I don't feel free form chatty there.

I'm definitely an introvert. Any in person interaction in varying shades of annoying and terrifying. The phone isn't much better. Email and text are great. I can take time to respond and choose/review my words.
posted by Mitheral at 6:44 AM on March 12 [8 favorites]


I don't mind any of those except the phone ringing. I hate hate hate talking on the phone and will avoid it at all cost.

Not that it's a vote, because it's not, but I'd rather the MetaTalkTails stay in MetaTalk, not move to the blue.
posted by cooker girl at 7:19 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


I loathe talking on the phone the most but really all of the communications are complicated feeling for me.

Thanks to too many years waiting tables and a natural inclination for avoiding conflict my default setting is customer service even though I am not getting paid so I guess I don't allow myself to engage with my feelings most of the time.

I also was a child actor and I still perform onstage. I'm a pleaser, if I'm honest. I am mostly always masking in public. So thanks for asking this, it's made me sit with my feelings a bit and I appreciate that.

I don't know how much of this is my nature or a trauma response but I feel both ways simultaneously pretty much all the time. Like that every interaction is nourishing and exciting and also fraught and tired-making.

Like people are always fascinating and terrifying. I love people but also they scare me.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 7:31 AM on March 12 [10 favorites]


I don't mind when people come to the door. If it's a neighbor I'm happy to chat. If it's a kid trying to raise money for a local charity I'm happy to contribute. If it's a religious missionary I can politely tell them I'm not interested. If it's a salesperson (rare) I can be anywhere from polite to nasty when I tell them to go away, depending on their attitude and what they're selling. That one time it was that couple handing out photos of aborted fetuses I have no problem telling them to get the fuck off my property.

I hate the phone. Hate it. I don't like talking to anybody on the phone, not even my wife. Hate ordering food. Hate talking to users at work. I think it's the lack of visual cues or something. I'm not really sure. I'll make a call if I absolutely have to but I won't like it. When I began working from home two years ago I left an outgoing voice mail message that basically says to email me and I haven't checked my work voice mail since.

Email is where I'm a Viking. I can write the hell out of an email. Just email me all day long and I'm good.

Texting, sure. I can text, though I prefer to do it on my laptop where I have a real keyboard. On a phone I type like a person who didn't grow up with cell phones, because that's what I am.

Zoom/Skype/Teams mostly annoy me because two years into the pandemic people still forget they're on mute, or there is echo, or the network is slow, or anything else. I also hate staring at ten people who are obviously not engaged in the meeting. Luckily most of the time we have Teams meetings nobody uses their camera.

I am a recovering introvert. I used to be shy and not very talkative but as I've gotten older I've gotten a lot better at talking to random people.
posted by bondcliff at 7:41 AM on March 12 [2 favorites]


The security guard at my local library has started saying “Hey, nice to see you again!” and it fills me with confusion because how does he keep recognizing me?!? I’m face blind and never recognize anyone so it’s always slightly startling when people who see me once a week remember me.

I also have waist length hair and say hi to everyone. People remember me a lot. You’d think I’d be used to this by now, but nope.
posted by lepus at 8:41 AM on March 12 [7 favorites]


At most libraries, if you visit once a week, you're going to be pretty memorable to the people who work there regardless of what you look like.

I like when people come to the door, or email, or text me. Talking on the phone is not my favorite, but it's, y'know, fine. Zoom/Skype/Teams I like okay, though I wish people would turn their cameras on more--I like seeing their faces.

In some of my virtual meetings, there's a dynamic that seems not class-based but kind of class-adjacent, where some people are Zooming from their home office with its impressive book collection, or their minor-league-podcaster setup, or their lovely vintage kitchen, and others are in, like, their car with a smartphone.
posted by box at 9:00 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


the phone ringing is either my mom, or almost certainly spam. so that's pretty easy to deal with. some other random person (that I know) just calling me? I find it kind of oppressive, like I am being forced to interact whether I want to or not. I like text and email because I can acknowledge and respond in my own time. no sense of being put upon.

I will definitely say hey or maybe stop to chat with neighbors but I know not everyone is into that, so I try to be sensitive to their vibe. I definitely stop to say hi to all the kitties (and doggies too, if this seems like a good idea)

I have worked from home since forever, so I am both very comfortable being by myself a lot but also very happy to have some human interaction when I can. in a lot of ways the lockdown wasn't such a change for me, at first. but I really missed seeing friends. we have started easing back into a small scale social life and its just 100000000% wonderful to hang out with people. we don't have to do anything fun or interesting, or talk about anything of substance. just being together, maybe eating some food...it's so good.
posted by supermedusa at 9:52 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


In some of my virtual meetings, there's a dynamic that seems not class-based but kind of class-adjacent

That's a great way to put it. In the company I was at when the panny started, it was TOTALLY like this. The CEO had his fancy camera and what seemed to be a dedicated art studio (?) and other people were showing off their awesome houses with their gorgeous office windows, or sitting beside their parents' jacuzzi, while I was at my cramped kitchen table. It was a startup and we were all making basically the same amount of money, and it was a jarring reminder of how different the financial situation was from employee to employee. Who was actually dependent on their salary for income, and who could just turn around and sell their home for millions, or ask mom, if they needed cash?

The company where I'm at now explicitly states that you should use a virtual background unless you're at the office, for privacy and security reasons, and it takes a lot of stress away. I'm not expected to curate a particular area of my home as part of my work persona. The Zoom "blur" option is also really nice, great job Zoom!
posted by rogerroger at 9:55 AM on March 12 [3 favorites]


I hate getting unknown phone calls and doorbell rings, but don’t mind messages. I live in an apartment building and like seeing my neighbours, not sure what it’s like in the US, but in England we wouldn’t say anything in the lift/elevators whereas in France we say bonjour/bonsoir to everyone and I like it.

Strong no to surprise videos, I am in comfy clothes with my hair tied back as soon as I get home.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:15 AM on March 12


Phone calls: It depends on the time of day. I'm generally unconcerned with ringing phones , unless the call comes in at an unusually early or late time. All other times, the rule I use is, if the first thing I would say to the caller is, "I can't talk on the phone right now," then I simply don't answer the phone. Voice mail is there for a reason.

Texts: Also unconcerned unless they're from my wife. Oh, I also have fun with people texting me about buying my house. My phone number got into some database, linked with someone else's name and address, and I go back and forth between a) just letting people know I'm not the woman they're looking for and I don't even live in that city, and b) seeing if I can string them along a bit.

Slack messages: I tend to pay more attention to those because Slack messages are either work-work or band-work related.

Google Hangouts: It's one of the tools at work, but we signed up with Google after we had already signed up with Slack, and I see no need to use both, so I ignore Google Hangouts completely. I've told coworkers that I'm always reachable on Slack, even if I'm away from my computer, and that put an end to asking me about ignore Hangouts messages.

Zoom: I found a nice gradient background that I use when most meeting attendees have their cameras on, but most of my meetings don't require cameras. I stay on mute and hold down the Space bar to talk. Or I use the Zoom app on my phone and stay in Safe Driving mode, with the big on-screen button to tap in order to unmute.
posted by emelenjr at 11:17 AM on March 12


do you feel
a) alarm,
b) anticipation,
c) curiosity,
d) other


d) annoyance.

Phone Call or Text?

Again, annoyance, since I have a pay-as-you-go plan. Texts are at least 20¢ and voice calls are 10¢/minute. Therefore, Zoom and email are best (so it's free and I don't even have to touch the damned cell). Please don't do the young-people thing with texts like my step-son, where his message is spread out among many, when said message could easily fit into one text. You're costing me dimes, kid.
posted by Rash at 11:20 AM on March 12


Oh and forget about voicemail; now, my new 4G cell doesn't tell me when I get one, so I'm terribly sorry but you better try again. Or text me or ideally, send the preferred email, instead. Or send me a postcard!

(Since the robo-calls and the answering machine full of robo-call-messages got to be too much, the land-line had to go. Good bye, dial tone, I still miss you.)
posted by Rash at 11:24 AM on March 12


I love getting post. I have two semi-regular snail mail correspondents: my mum and my BFF. My mum writes long chatty missives mainly about the shenanigans her two cats and two dogs get up to. I really look forward to them.
posted by Balthamos at 11:24 AM on March 12 [1 favorite]


Phone calls are 99% Dems asking for money, scam calls (helpfully labeled by Android as such), or doctor office calls.

The rest are extremely random family member calls.

If my friends want to talk, they text asking if they can call. Love it.

I am still enjoying post-pandemic face to face talks...they used to bug me, now I'm "eh " it's fine! We are also all awkward now so I don't stand out.

Video chats are ok for work, profoundly unsatisfying for friends. Bleh.

The only people I avoid in real life is like one guy at work who's unpleasant.
posted by emjaybee at 11:26 AM on March 12


I don't mind any of those except the phone ringing.

Now that I'm retired, it's easy to forget how goddam annoying the ringing phones in the office were, in the large computer lab where I spent my last five years in software.


The free threads being on the blue are weird.

Agreed. I just skip them there, now that the novelty's worn off.
posted by Rash at 11:38 AM on March 12


I am very selective about who has my phone number, so mostly I have eagerness if the phone rings, to see who wants to have a chat. My kids are on the opposite side of the state, and often when my daughter calls it's my 3 y.o. granddaughter on the line already half-way into a story she can't wait to tell me, the words tumbling out at top volume so that i have to pull the phone away from me even if it's on speaker.
I screen any call i don't recognize and then immediately block the number, so i get few unsolicited calls.
I've only been in my suburban neighborhood a couple of years, so, covid years now. Walkups seldom happen, but i want to be neighborly, so i wear a mask and usually give to whatever fundraiser the neighborhood kids are working.
I'm polite but firm with cold sales knocks. If i want a service i'll find it myself, thank you very much.
posted by OHenryPacey at 12:08 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


I hate the phone. It's never answered unless I'm expecting a call that needs human interaction, or it's people who I'm close to who would only be calling in case of emergency. Even if I know the caller (mostly doctors offices and the like) I'll let it go to voicemail (love voicemail-to-text!!) and if possible, will email them back.

Random people or neighbours I avoid as much as I can. Having a dog now makes it a little harder (she's adorable and dog people are a chatty group) and I've spoken to more randoms in the last 5 months than I have in the last decade, but that was also part of the reason I got a dog.

I don't answer the door. It's either amazon or another delivery and now they just leave it without signatures (covid was good for that at least), or a neighbour selling something for their kids. I don't have cash anyway. If it's anyone else, I don't want to talk to them either.

I am horrible about checking my mail unless I know Canada Post has left a package. All my bills are online. Please don't bother with Christmas cards, I'll get them in February. It's 99% flyers and 1% "oh crap I should have seen that earlier" and I'm ok with the risk.

Feel free to text or slack me, that's cool. No dread there, unless it's "we need to talk"...
posted by cgg at 12:47 PM on March 12


I participated in an intense behavioral study several years ago; and ever since then, when the phone rings, I salivate.

(PS: Having seen this comment, I have resolved to call my future ska/new wave band "The Endless Crab Disaster".
posted by zaixfeep at 1:07 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


I come from a family that was terrible with money so when caller ID became a thing, it was routine for us to not answer the phone if we didn't know the number.

I didn't have to worry about debt collectors, but I've always let calls go to answering machine/voicemail if I don't know the number. If it's important they can damn well leave a message. My smartphone takes it a step further, in that I can just turn it over to make the ringing stop right away...lovely!

Having said that, I'll also say that the general prospect of communicating isn't stressful for me, and I'm equally comfortable with all platforms. I just don't feel like talking to the majority of people who clamor for my attention - outside of friends, family, things like doctor appointments that I instigated, etc. I've come across quite a few articles with examples of people engaging with spammers or wrong-number callers for trolling and fun, but I just don't see how the time spent is worth a few Fake Internet Points. In short, I'm a grump rather than suffering from anxiety or a hatred of a particular format.

I enjoy both Metatalktail and Free Thread posts. I wonder if maybe the fact that "fewer people see Metatalk threads" could be a positive thing that leads to a different type of conversation than it would if the exact same post showed up on the Blue. My vote would be to keep both as-is in their current locations and let people decide which ones to engage with; it's not like the existence of the other type of post is keeping people from enjoying in their preferred one....
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:41 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


I just got back from the grocery store. My state's mask mandate ended today and the store had removed their "mask required" sign, but I was pleasantly surprised that over 80% of customers (including myself) elected to wear one anyway! It will surprise nobody that those who weren't wearing masks were almost exclusively men.
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:45 PM on March 12 [4 favorites]


I am good with isolating. I answer the phone, it rings maybe twice a week.I text with family or friends of more than 30 years. I have nice neighbors I do talk with. I even took the new neighbors on a couple of rides to see nice areas they could go to. I made one new friend IRL in the last 5 years. No wonder I never got covid. I have little social life. I don't have the same set of impulses I used to, maybe I need a tune up.
posted by Oyéah at 4:05 PM on March 12


I have my phone set so it never makes any noise. My doorbell broke a few years back and I haven't fixed it. I think that answers the question.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:21 PM on March 12 [6 favorites]


We had our presidential inauguration yesterday here in Chile.
Piñera, widely seen as the worst president we've had since Pinochet, is out.
Boric, the youngest sitting president in the world and Chile's history, is in.
It was an emotional ceremony, he choked up a few times.
His government is avowedly feminist, with more female ministers and under-secretaries, etc., than male, with women in key posts such as Interior and Spokesperson, and with the Minister for Women and Gender Equality being brought into the central political committee, which had never happened before.
We also have more women than ever in congress, as well as, for the first time as well, people of the Mapuche and Rapa Nui (Easter Island) cultures.
Also, a friend of mine is Minister for the Environment, and she's actually a climate scientist, rather than just some random MBA who's friends or family of the President or one of his ministers (as was the case in Piñera's government).
Exciting times.
posted by signal at 4:25 PM on March 12 [25 favorites]


Our doorbell was disconnected when we moved into this house 23 years ago. We put up a piece of paper saying "Please Knock, Bell Broken". It's long since faded to obscurity, and we've not replaced it.
posted by mollweide at 4:58 PM on March 12 [3 favorites]


I had a hang out time with a friend and another friend scheduled for today at 2:30. At 2:16 one friend texts me to say she forgot, can't make it, snowing too hard, etc. At 2:20 getting no return text from me, she CALLS me just to say she can't make it, asks if I want to reschedule. I am on my way to this person's house already (the non-phoning friend) and the combination of a) phone call (WHAT) b) flaking on me (happens, but I am a pill about it) c) making me late threatened to tank my day before it began. It worked out, I went for a long walk and got over it but I did refuse to reschedule with friend1 to hang with friend2 (this was kind of a "hey you two might get along we should get together" thing and man am I salty about this).

My sister, on the other hand, is amazed that I still answer the phone when strangers call. I'll only do it if I notice it because my ringer is literally never on. Her phone noises are on and she gets beep beep beep text noises all the time and I find it horribly distracting. That said she is the only person I enjoy talking to on the phone, she is fun as hell and our dynamic is good..

Email is where I'm a Viking. I can write the hell out of an email. Just email me all day long and I'm good.

Exact same.

If someone's knocking I assume something is very very wrong. If I see someone in the street I am in one of two modes 1) legit in a rush and so I'll say HEYINARUSHSOSORRYCAN'TTALK and keep walking 2) not in a rush and I've gotten a lot better at just stopping and jawing with people and actually enjoying it. Surprising myself really.

Postal mail is the best. Zoom is fine. MetaTalkTails in MetaTalk suits me.

I am excited about Boric, I hope he is as good as he seems like he might be.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:35 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


irritation with chance of anxiety.

usually i will ignore an unknown caller, assuming that a caller who means to reach me will leave a message or send a text to the same number. but... little lurk is in school, mom doesn't see so well but cares for pop who has dementia and wants to go home, COVID, and i'm WingFH and occasionally have to use that device for verbal communication ... so i've been answering a bit more recently. but not without doing my best to sound really hostile. this usually works out and only once or twice has left me mortified at that display.

example:

phone: *rings displaying unknown caller*
self: WHO CALLS.
caller: Is this [my name]?
self: WHO. CALLS.
caller: I'm trying to reach [my name].
self (quite possibly interrupting): YOU called ME. I have asked you to identify yourself twice and you have not done so. This is your last chance.
caller: This is [familiar name] Vice-Principle at [little lurk's school].
self (mortified at own extremely hostile tone, goes for warmest, charmingest butter): Ooooooh! I remember you. Yes this is [self]. How are you?

that was the time little lurk was contact-traced and directed to isolate then test. (so far, of our local pod - the kid & mother, self, my folks, though also, not locally, kid's mother's folks, no confirmed case, notwithstanding a couple unusually intense presumptive flus back when you had to have traveled from china or contacted a confirmed case to be eligible for testing).
several other times it has been my peripatetic buddy who calls via skype from time to time from who knows where in the world. somewhat more familiar with my comfort with hostile expression, that friend (whose skype caller id, like many a robo/telemarket/scammer, says "TOLL FREE CALL," and so warrants the heightened defensiveness) has learned to push right through, and he does a good job of announcing himself at the outset anyway. sometimes a cousin.

i am not as overtly hostile at the door. but usually i don't answer. and i guess i sort of resent that there is no easy way for me to see who knocks without revealing that i am there, inside. (no, i do not want cameras routed through the internet, notwithstanding that they may solve that complaint, thanks. maybe a series of tunable mirrors). no problem with ambling neighbors while working in the yard - we discuss how i have failed to maintain my predecessor's exotic flowers, sometimes share produce or cuttings; the sales-persons and canvassers eventually infer that i won't be taking off my gloves to consider whatever they're proffering.

back when i routinely worked in office-like places, a principled sovereign introvert, i'd fairly freely describe myself as antisocial, meaning to convey both indisposed to socialize idly and so jealously protective of privacy as to step out into public to make principled arguments. (coworker: "don't you want people to like you?" self: "no. that's beyond my control; i want people to leave me alone. you, and the glee club who insist it is not only right for you to know my birth date but also to force me and everyone else here to celebrate it in that manner you prescribe, are not leaving me alone, and clearly you all won't learn that that is my preference simply by having observed how i leave you alone." coworker: "we want to be nice to you!" self: "i just told you how."). not a seeking-to-harm antisocial, but a declining to socialize when possible antisocial. an introvert with spikes and quills, & righteous pique on a hair-trigger, if you will.

i used to deliberately antagonize telemarketers and spammers and evangelists. nowadays not so much.

can't remember the last time there was a real good, non-work, email. probably before the smartphone. i used to email the hell outta some emails. and before that correspond the hell out of some longhand postal correspondences. now i'll occasionally write a good email at work then become frustrated when my [organizational superior] replies with questions that i have just succinctly, and eloquently, supplied in the email they clearly didn't read. grrr. and few letters. should do something about that.

choice topical nietzsche quotation, in case i haven't yet quite cemented the impression of being just that type of selfregarding edgelord, which, i assure you, i am not quite:
A letter is an unannounced visit; the mailman, the mediator of impolite incursions. One ought to have one hour in every eight days for receiving letters, and then take a bath.
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:26 PM on March 12 [2 favorites]


"WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?" is my response to all phone calls and door knockers. I have a genuine phone phobia and I will not pick up unless I recognize the numbers. I have disabled the voice mail.

I can't see who is at the door without them seeing me but I bellow through the windowed door to see what they want. Most of the door people are political canvassers so I have an "I VOTED EARLY" sticker on my door that deters most of them.

Most mail I refer to as "recycling" since I do all my business online. I love email since I can ignore it until I feel like looking at it. One of the joys of retirement is only having to look at my email about once a day, if I feel like it.

I love the MetaTalktail threads because I'm nocturnal and by the time I see the Blue free thread it's already a hundred or so responses long. I enjoy the longform chats with the Cabal here on the Gray.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 9:51 PM on March 12 [6 favorites]


"WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS?" is my response to all phone calls and door knockers.

I reserve that response (or a simple ill-tempered WHAT.) for work emails, which rarely fail to result in more unavoidable work on my part.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:59 PM on March 12 [1 favorite]


My BFF loves to call me on the phone and leave voicemails when I don't pick up, which is its whole own layer of hell. She very occasionally responds to my texts, but she is mostly 20 years behind the technological times, so she answers my e-mails and voicemails, but never my texts, and she flatly insists on leaving me voicemails. EVEN MY MOTHER knows to text me rather than leave a voicemail.

When I need to text her something, I actually usually text her husband, who uses his phone like a normal member of the 21st century.

She called me last night during dinner with my family, and as I declined her call I felt a creeping sense of dread because I knew, I just knew she would leave me a voicemail and I'd have to listen to it, which she did, and I did, and I hated it. The voicemail is basically always, "Call me tomorrow!" but she still leaves it for me as if I won't call her back from the call log, or as if SHE CAN'T JUST TEXT ME THE SAME INFORMATION.

The whole process drives me bananas, but I love her with all of my heart so this is what we're gonna do, probably until one of us dies, probably me from having to listen to voicemails in the year of our lord two thousand and twenty-two. We have actually now officially reached the point where her 12-year-old daughter texts me funny memes, but my BFF won't, so now her daughter will text me, "Hey, my mom just called you" and I will text back, "I know, I'm at MY mom's, I'll call her in two hours" and she'll tell her mom and then say, "She says she's going to bed at 10 so don't call her after that" and I text back, "Right, like she knows how to turn her ringer on" and then we trade memes.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:58 PM on March 12 [5 favorites]


Nobody calls, I don't answer, always wrong number. Nobody texts, I'm a l cell phone luddite. Nobody knocks on my door.* Random email mostly nothing now. Pretty much any disturbance is by definition bad news. Email from family is mostly of the "are you still alive?" occasional things, always afraid somebody died.

* For a year ending a few months ago I had a neighbor single father dude with a really fun four year old. Think sitting out front on the tailgate of his truck drinking beer in the evenings and goofing off with the kid. He'd come knocking on the door at 1am (I'm a vampire) looking for a couple of beers. Sorta miss them (they moved out).

When I'm out and in a good mood... I occasionally catch my upstairs neighbor, a 53 year old cute Filipina massage therapist or her 20 something son, or their boy band worthy friend and will chat a bit (and probably partake of some weed). They're fun. And there's a something neuroatypical dog walking lady who's hella fun to talk to. Made her spin around with glee one evening and then she flashed me and went of grumbling to herself, didn't see her for months. She checked herself into treatment (she was trying to tweak her meds herself). She's back now, no longer bald, but sporting skate punk orange hair and walking around with a snake. She's fun.

There are a couple of can collectors that I talk to a bit, and the ALS guy in the powered wheelchair that I have to play 20 questions with because he can only manage a barely understandable yes/no sort of response. I do pretty well with random encounters where I have the option to just bail. Just don't come knocking on my door.....

+++

My TV decided to go belly up this morning. Thirteen year old Sony, graar. Not looking forward to finding just something to plug the Roku into. Just waiting for something else to go wrong, shit usually piles up pretty quick.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:55 AM on March 13 [6 favorites]


Anxious, definitely. For some it’s like I learned to be anxious about different notifications at a specific time in my life and had a hard time letting go of the feeling. Ringing phones started making me fearful around the time my grandma died, I think, and that was over 20 years ago. I still worry someone has died (my parents are both frail, so this is actually a topical fear again, sadly). For others it’s just the generic anxiety that comes with gearing up for an interaction with an unknown person.

Pretty much the only medium I don’t feel anxious about is Signal, because only three people ever contact me there, they’re all people I’m close to, and it’s almost always idle chit chat.

I lost my temper at a telemarketer the other day — that one guy who calls supposedly to raise funds for a police charity, which in the best case would be a contradiction in terms, and in reality is very likely a scam. Why is it always the same guy? I asked him three times to take me off his list and he just kept talking over me, at which point I yelled “I KNOW YOUR VOICE BETTER THAN MY OWN MOTHER’S, STOP CALLING ME” and hung up. Then I wondered if I’d actually just yelled at a recording.
posted by eirias at 5:01 AM on March 13 [2 favorites]


I used to never answer my phone, but now that my kids are out and about I have to for fear I am receiving a call from a random number concerning them. It's always spam.

No one ever knocks on the door here, and if someone did I would have a panic attack. Even delivery guys know the code to the building entrance and just send a phone message saying they left the food or box or whatever at the front door.

At work I used to freak out when my office phone rang, but now I am in a position where people are calling me pretty regularly so I am used to it. But, it's colleagues calling me and not like random members of the public, which makes it less anxiety inducing.

Years and years ago I worked in the bankruptcy dept of a now defunct mortgage bank and would constantly field calls from aggrieved borrowers that I (legally) couldn't really do anything for except provide specific factual details about their loans. These people were invariably angry, and it was not pleasant when the phone rang. Because of that, I still feel my heart race whenever the phone rings.

Regarding sms, I don't think anyone in Korea sends sms anymore. All I get is spam there, anyway. Also I don't think voicemail exists here, or if it does literally no one uses it. Kakao, which everyone uses here, doesn't really have spam, so mostly it is cool to get messages on there since you know it is from a human (or Burger King coupons, in my case).
posted by Literaryhero at 5:56 AM on March 13


If you aren't in my contacts, I'm not answering when you call - simple as that. If it's important, they'll leave a voicemail or text.

Also, I left Denver yesterday morning with no snow on the ground and returned to Richmond, VA, with snow on the ground. It's not supposed to work that way.
posted by COD at 6:48 AM on March 13 [3 favorites]


I'm returning to work after a medically eventful six years. When I left that world at what now feels like half a lifetime ago, I felt generally capable and confident on the phone and meetings, but I'm re-entering a world where video is the new normal for those who must work from home.

And I've been fretting over it. This past week, after some thinking, I decided not to apply for a particular job because it meant daily zoom calls with colleagues and clients. I mean, technically I'm feeling okay, at least well enough to work a bit, but I look absolutely exhausted. Like catatonic exhausted. If people register me as looking unhealthy, will they assume I can't do the work?

At first I thought it was like, okay, maybe I'm self conscious, lots of people have had two years now to get used to video conferencing, normalize the awkwardness a bit, and I just need to do that.

But it's difficult even for folks who've had two years to normalize this. Anne Helen Petersen posted a great article this morning about Zoom dysmorphia, how our appearance and performance on video affects our focus and confidence, and how that particularly impacts women, POCs, and junior employees.

It would take literally an hour every morning to get myself into looking acceptable and baseline healthy on camera, and there'd be significant trussing and spackle involved, and even so it might be kind of iffy. The reality is that my energy level varies pretty dramatically from day to day, so I'd have to choose whether to devote part of my often-limited focus and energy looking professional on camera, or instead spend that time actually getting the work done. I'm certain that millions of other disabled folks are making those same mental calculations and have been for years.

I'm curious to see how this all plays out, if everyone after two years is feeling totally over dealing with videoconferencing and instead we're all opting for slack channels and telephones, which at this point feels like roaming with mastodons, but it would be hugely reassuring.
posted by mochapickle at 8:12 AM on March 13 [10 favorites]


I have always hated a ringing phone. I have been bitched out about how awful my voice is so much that I will never want to talk on a phone again except to trusted friends. People have tried to get me fired over my voice and my voice was cited as a reason to lay me off at my previous occupation. I also get intermittently forced to answer phones at work, which makes me wish for death because the worst thing is having to pretend to be an expert on shit I don't deal with, having people be upset with me, and getting threats. Yaaaaaaaaaaay service.

I have a landline I don't really want or use but have to keep. It rings and I can't get it to turn off even when the phone is unplugged/uncharged/batteries out, what have you.

Doorbell: if I don't know you/aren't expecting you, I don't answer it. I haaaaaaate whoever comes to the door and bangs and bangs on it, I am NOT answering it for you.

I wave at the occasional neighbor I know, but most people aren't hanging around outside much. I was buddies with one neighbor, but he moved.

Am generally happy to have electronic communication/packages, especially if my voice isn't involved and I'm not having to be Johnny-on-the-spot surprised dealing with it. I enjoy when I can deal with it quietly on my own time.

I'm fine with Zoom, but I refused to turn it on for almost all of 2020 at work because I was bursting into spontaneous tears. Yaaay. I look like complete shit on Zoom a lot of the time and I'm out of care about it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:41 AM on March 13 [1 favorite]


I have bad social anxiety. A phone call or knock at the door causes a shock of fear.
posted by Splunge at 1:30 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]


I know my duplex neighbor's knock, and my grandson's knock. I got T-Mobile to block unknown number, or private number calls, because you couldn't enter letters into number blocking. I get almost no spam calls anymore, because I am a no cookie stickler.
posted by Oyéah at 2:46 PM on March 13


I worked in a bakery one summer as a cookie stickler.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:34 PM on March 13 [2 favorites]


If people want to contact me email or whatsapp text is fine. Whatsapp voice messages are a fucking pain.
My phone is permanently muted. It's my communication device so my rules.
posted by adamvasco at 4:58 PM on March 13 [1 favorite]


You know, I have been thinking about this a lot lately. My partner is the kind of person who will talk to anyone anywhere, calls people on the phone just to catch up, answers the door, stands around gabbing with the neighbors, goes to everything he's invited to, etc. Whereas I haven't answered an unscheduled knock at the door in decades, send my regrets whenever possible, etc. And now, after a lifetime of these respective behaviors, he has a vast network of acquaintances and semi-friends, and a handful of actual friends, whereas I only have the handful of actual friends. And let me tell you, as you age, the vast network of acquaintances and semi-friends becomes ever more important as mortality begins to thin the ranks.
posted by HotToddy at 6:06 PM on March 13 [6 favorites]


I'm usually a "hide behind the stack of tins when I see a friend in the supermarket" kind of socially awkward even if I really like the friend in question. And I HATE phone calls.
But during the pandemic I got so lonely that I would enjoy even sales calls from my bank, and would listen happily to the poor cold calling person try to persuade me to get a new credit card.
Several times they would break script and have a real, human interaction with me, mostly at the end of the call when we fervently wished one another safety and sanity.
The best was the woman who called me because something went wrong with my online purchase of a DVD. We had a long and animated chat about why we both like the Grand Designs show.
When someone knocks on our door these days, it's only ever for one reason. The neighbourhood kids have figured out that my husband (and I, sometimes) will help fix their bicycles, or pump up their deflated soccer balls.
Once, a tiny boy with a glittery "happy birthday" crown and a brand new birthday gift soccer ball.
One of them (9 year old boy) told me that we are the coolest people in the complex! The compliment was even more pleasing when he explained it's because he's noticed we recycle our waste.
And they seem to have stories about us because lately quite a few of them have been asking me if I have a pet snake. (I don't)
posted by Zumbador at 9:03 PM on March 13 [10 favorites]


I'm clearly one of the last remaining humans who is fine with getting calls or texts, generally answers them straight away, and has no feelings either way about it. Having said that, I probably get two or three of each in a given day. When I'm out and about in my village, I'll nod and smile at strangers, say hello to people I recognise, and will often stop to chat with people I know well enough for that to be a thing.

I have one set of neighbours who are a bit odd, although they're not unpleasant exactly. The people on the other side are good friends and tend to let themselves into our house and announce themselves once they're inside, which is absolutely fine. Our kids are all friends and we do a camping trip with them every year.

My wife is way better than me at turning those casual acquaintances into friendships, but I'm getting better at it. I was kind of a hermit before I met her. I prefer the way things are now.
posted by pipeski at 5:26 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


Also, I like MetaTalktails better than the free threads, for one thing because it respects the traditional MF thread taxonomy. Life is chaotic enough.
posted by HotToddy at 8:47 AM on March 14 [2 favorites]


The trick with zoom meetings is to just look like yourself. Your relatives will tell you what you have to change. I ran for office and learned I had to do more about hair and make-up, including nose hairs! Ha ha ha ha . Yeah. And I don't wear makeup. Not for any reason.
posted by Oyéah at 4:03 PM on March 14


Phone rings: anxiety.
Doorbell/knock: anxiety.
Glimpse of neighbor: depends on the neighbor and/or my state of mind at the time.
SMS/messaging/DMs: generally fine.
Email: generally fine, unless I’ve recently sent the person something difficult, in which case I might not read their reply for days, if at all.
Mail carrier has left me something: no particular reaction unless I’m expecting something.

In general, asynchronous beats synchronous nearly every time for me.

Those with other autistic spectra may vary.
posted by bixfrankonis at 5:00 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


I will do anything to avoid a phone call. (Even in my native language, though much more so in a second language.) It comes with all the uncertainty and frustration of a face to face interaction, but without any of the social cues that give me some chance at actually communicating. You can't smile on the phone. I'm really glad that slack has replaced phone calls among colleagues. It's not perfect. But, it beats the hell out of phone calls.

I remain astonished by the assumption of a lot of twenty-year-old-ish people today that email is supposed to be synchronous communication. "Don't email me on the weekend?" Well, don't check your email on the weekend. Being asynchronous on the timescale of weeks is why email is great. And the weekend is when I catch up on email. It's not my fault that you're too neurotic to avoid responding to email for 2 days. Chill out and don't make it my problem.

It's been a long time since I've had a door that anybody knocks at. It was usually either time bank folks looking to exchange plants and fruit or missionaries, both of which I enjoy talking to. (I'm not sure the missionaries enjoy talking to me, but they're always polite, as am I.) Occasionally 17 year olds selling magazine subscriptions, which is a harder conversation.
posted by eotvos at 6:15 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


Any form of ringing, buzzing interruption (and non-buzzing things arriving in the mailbox) creates a sense of anxiety and dread. Sightings of actual physical people that I didn't arrange to meet via text or email trigger my flight response and I will go to great lengths to avoid any interaction.
posted by dg at 8:17 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


On post-view, actual buzzing things arriving in the mailbox would definitely pique my curiosity more than trigger alarm bells.
posted by dg at 8:23 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


At some point my door buzzer went from a normal volume to an EXTRAORDINARY one and now it scares the everloving daylights out of me, each time it rings, which is ~10 times per day because my buzzer is first, so every. single. delivery. person. buzzes me. Package theft is wild in my neighborhood so I do always buzz them into the vestibule, but my god. So loud. So many.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:26 PM on March 14


My doorbell is an old-school metal clanger of some sort (or like the kind you used to be able to turn like a key). It once went off in the middle of the night due to a rain-caused short, except I'd never heard it before and had no idea what was happening in my ceiling. It would not be overstating to use the word "terrifying".
posted by bixfrankonis at 9:50 PM on March 14 [2 favorites]


I sympathise with the last few comments. In my case it's the school bus that stops in front of my building in the morning about 5 minutes before my alarm goes off. Most mornings I'm deep asleep enough that I get no forewarning; but even if I'm half-awake and aware enough to hear it coming, the almighty PSSHHHHT of the air brakes when it stops - seemingly right outside my bedroom window - is still loud enough to startle the absolute shit out of me! Every. Damn. Morning. No matter how many times it's happened it's still PSSHHHT DAAAH JESUS H CHRIST. And then about the time my heart settles down the alarm goes off. So mornings are not where I'm a Viking.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:56 PM on March 14 [1 favorite]


An incoming call is a right not an obligation. It is a call option on talking to someone. I am good with making outgoing calls, but hate unexpected incoming ones. My gf sometimes gets annoyed with me bc I will leave my phone at home when I go out. When she asks why, I tell her because there is no one I want to talk to when I run these three errands.

Although I generally do not like people, I have the ability and sometimes the desire to make small talk with anyone. My kids still give me shit about the time I had a 3 minute conversation with the toll taker on the Garden State Parkway a while back. I am terrible with names, but I am great with remembering minute details of a conversation I had with a person even years later. I will meet someone at a gathering and be able to ask a follow-up question about a conversation we had 8 years ago. "So, did you ever get to plant those daffodils?" Or, "How was that new recipe for eggplant you made last time we spoke?" Freaks some people out. And, because I am terrible with names, I will always try to remember some other fact about someone. My secret power is that I can remember what high school you went to. I have run into people from college 3 decades after we graduated and knew that they went to Tamalpas High.

I never answer my doorbell. Now, I check the camera at the door. If I know you, I might answer.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:30 PM on March 14 [3 favorites]


My doorbell is an old-school metal clanger of some sort (or like the kind you used to be able to turn like a key). It once went off in the middle of the night due to a rain-caused short, except I'd never heard it before and had no idea what was happening in my ceiling. It would not be overstating to use the word "terrifying".

My partner's doorbell TALKS. You can program it to say something, but nobody told him that when he moved in. Instead, we were just sitting around one night waiting on a dinner delivery when his hallway started speaking like a numbers station in a man's voice.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:13 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]


The doorbell for the last place I lived in was broken, so I bough one of those wireless doorbells to replace it. You stick the button next to the front door with double-sided sticky tape, then plug the bell unit into any electric socket in the house. It worked fine and made a pleasant gentle "ding-dong" noise.

Then I found out that it would randomly emit a single "...dong" every once in a while. It was a bit disconcerting at first (was someone actually at the door?? better go check...) but it only happened occasionally so I got used to it. If it donged when I had people over I reassured them it was just George the poltergeist saying hello.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:25 AM on March 15


Phone: I feel fear when it rings - assuming some sort of emergency or terrible news
Doorbell: mostly irritation, unless I’ve been given a heads up by the visitor prior to that they will be dropping by
Texts, emails: typically neutral, boarding in pleasant feelings UNLESS I glance and see it’s from someone I don’t normally hear from, then I get fearful that something is amiss.
Mail: I feel good about. In this day and age, if it were some sort of emergency they would have called or texted. A letter/correspondence in the mail just means neutral communication without any sort of immediate action or reply on my part.
Spontaneously seeing someone out and about: AVOID AVOID AVOID.
posted by Sassyfras at 8:49 PM on March 15


Doorbell/knock: anxiety.

Usually 20-something canvassers that are not too pushy, last one was from the SPLC that was cool when I said up front that I had no bucks, but wanted to chat a bit and was pleased that I knew who they were.
posted by sammyo at 3:56 PM on March 17


I'll tell you what really hits my anxiety: when I have to let a guy into my apartment to fix the laundry dryer, and on the way out as he's packing up in my living room he pulls out a pamphlet and proceeds to proselytize his religion at me. I was legally obligated to let him in per my lease and then be abuses that obligation to push his own shit in my face. That was not awesome.
posted by bixfrankonis at 11:19 PM on March 17 [1 favorite]


Phone: I gotta tell you, a few weeks ago I was in a line, one of those long meandering lines that has like 5 sub-lines. Am I in the right one? How do I know? That kind of thing. Anyway, someone's phone rang. A guy in front of me pulled out his phone, frowned as if it was behaving irrationally, and said "What the fuck?" with a perfect combination of outrage and bewilderment, a combination of "Why is this happening to me?" and "How dare.". That man is my brother.

I live in a smaller town and people, especially businesses, get genuinely upset when you say you don't answer the phone and to please not call. I always say, "I don't answer the phone. If you know me, you know that, so you wouldn't bother calling. Therefore, if my phone is ringing, that means you don't know me, so I don't want to talk to you." They lose their minds. Like "Oh we can just hop on a phone call and figure this out in a few minutes" and, well, you clearly had a few minutes to write this, so maybe apply it to answering my goddamn question. (I know for some businesses, email isn't a legit way of doing business like for legal stuff which is a whole different annoyance)

I also don't answer the door. I wait a few beats before even getting up. Reason is simple and the same as the above. I don't answer the door unless I'm expecting you, and if you were unexpected but knew me, you'd know that and send me an email or chat or something giving me a heads-up. Therefore, if you're knocking on my door, I probably don't know you and don't want to talk to you. Unless it's a delivery, then it can probably sit a few seconds or minutes.

Again, this has made people very angry and work out elaborate scenarios. I'm not joking, it gets into, like, Pentagon wargaming "Okay but LET'S SAY someone is knocking at your door and you don't answer but...it's the FIRE DEPARTMENT and they were trying to tell you there's a fire but now you don't flee your apartment so you die. NOW what?" And it's like, well, if I smell smoke and there's a fire engine out front, that's a little different. Also presumably at some point in your scenario I'd go "gosh that is a lot of smoke, maybe I poke my head out and talk to all those firefighters milling around." Which doesn't seem to help because what they want is to shame me for not answering the door.

As someone who loves true crime, I've often amused myself wondering if it's a lot harder to be a serial killer today than it was in the 70s and 80s when people answered their door all willy-nilly.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:37 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of a funny story. It's second hand, but I can verify that the details are possible.

A friend had just arrived at a remote research station and was recovering from days of travel and acclimating to high altitude. She went to bed early in an unfamiliar room that was entirely dark with a heavy window covering. Then, around 3am, a loud male voice inside the room asked, "are you there?" Then paused for five seconds, and again asked, "are you there?" It repeated several times. She completely freaked out and spent a scary thirty seconds trying to figure out where the light switch was located and convinced there was a stranger in her room.

It turned out the previous occupant had chosen the "are you there" ringtone on the fancy networked telephone and someone in another timezone called a wrong number. (I gather that's a not unusual thing to say into a telephone in some places and someone added it to the ringtone list. But, not where she was from.) Several of us started switching random phones in normally empty rooms to that ringtone in the hopes of giving someone else an interesting story. No idea if anyone even noticed before the phone was power cycled.
posted by eotvos at 5:30 PM on March 19 [1 favorite]


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