oh crap, timetabling!

February 15, 2009 at 11:31 am (Dan) (, , )

Yeah, hi.
I was going to write a post about kaballa and gnosticism as pre-scientific models of the big bang and evolution, but check out how much I’m not doing that, now: 100%. That is how much I am not writing that post.

For various reasons, including, argh, first year religious studies was a long time ago and I’ve conflated a bunch of things which, if true, would make the post a lot easier to write, but they’re not true, which makes it much harder.

So, whatever. I will talk about telephones.

I fucking hate phones.

I have a weird relationship with things that annoy me – mostly, I can put up with things, as long as they’re not happening all the time. But if some critical threshold is reached, and breached, I lose the ability to deal with it at all, for some time, and have to take some time entirely away from that thing.

This is also how I am about people, but ‘annoy’ isn’t the right word there. I really like hanging out with people, and I miss seeing my friends on a regular basis, but occasionally it is too much and I need to hide away and not see anyone for some time. If I do see people during the hermit times, it kind of resets the hermit-time-clock, which is bad and inconvenient. So if I disappear for a month or three, that’s why. Don’t send search parties.

This is a problematic way to relate to people because I shut down any overtures towards doing stuff with people during these times. So people stop asking me to go to things. Then, later, when I am ok with people, again, I fail to call people and organise things and so I am a hermit again. Good times!

Anyway, so, I hate talking on the phone, but most of the time it is ok. I find it difficult to focus on what the person is saying, rather than, for instance, any text which might be in front of me (I can’t not read something if I am looking near it). I don’t like the real-time nature of the conversation, because small distractions can entirely derail it. Also, if you miss something, you can’t check what it was, like you could with, say, IM windows.

To counteract my tendency to pay attention to the visual world, not the audio one, I have to sit with my eyes closed if I am trying to talk to someone on the phone about anything important. This is occasionally impractical and sometimes a terrible idea.

Interestingly, I don’t really mind talking on the phone at work. I think it’s because, there, I’m expected to be looking at some other text, and there’s a different register and… various other things. but basically I can ask people to repeat things as often as I need to and they expect that.

This kind of makes me sound like I don’t hear things on the phone at all, which is not true. I am listening, really. But I’d probably rather IM you.

IM is a much less rich mode of conversation, so it’s kind of strange to prefer it, maybe? But it’s also a less invested mode of conversation. Pauses (most of the time) aren’t critical, and it’s ok if you’re reading other things at the same time (most of the time). Because the text is there, as an artifact, not as a memory trace, it is amenable to analysis in a different way. Positing readings of other people’s text helps me tremendously to maintain my not-craziness. Sometimes it’s difficult to get over a first impression, if something is phrased in a way which seems to imply something negative, but often the space afforded by IM allows you to re-assess something and not instantly get upset at the person, and cause trouble? Even though you lack communication cues like intonation and body language, you’ve got a better-developed set of tools for coping with language in text, I think.

Also, because it is a richer mode of communications, I think we think we can relate to it as though it was a face-to-face conversation, which is also fraught with danger. If you can’t see that I’m making a stupid face, you can’t really understand what I am saying (or, not as easily/in as much detail?). So telephones are kind of a crippled actual talk, rather than an enhanced text conversation? And text is text is text is how I like things?

There is: no point to this post, except maybe send me smses for a while because right now I can’t be having with telephones for whatever reason?

But also, we should do some things, guys, let’s go to a place or something, soon.



  1. juliadactyl said,

    I understand what you mean about hermit-clock. Mine is a lot shorter, I think – I need time every day where I don’t have to speak to people. This generally means that if I’ve got people at my house, they’re the kind of people who are able to entertain themselves (which isn’t too hard at my house). I think, for me, this comes from being raised as an only child by two only child parents – we met at meals, but there was a lot of time each day where people did their own thing. I don’t mind people being around the house, but, like, they gotta understand I’m not cranky or anything, I just want to go have a bath. My dad and my sister (who didn’t live with us) have an even shorter social-time before they need to not be around people who are making words at them. So, I won’t feel offended if you don’t want to go to breakfast (or some other outing)this one time, but you are always welcome! Also I won’t think “That Dan, he is a freak” because sometimes when my friends are over I read a book and expect them to entertain themselves.

    Also, fuck phones. Fuck them. I am basically unable to deal with any kind of official business via a phone. Net banking is the greatest thing ever for this reason.

    A question, related to this phone-hatred: in lectures, do you always learn better when there are notes on the board, or print-outs of the lecture notes, etc, or are you totally fine when a guy or a lady is just talking up the front? I find I need visual words, not just audio words, to properly understand what’s going on, and I think that’s one of the reasons I’m less comfortable on a phone.

  2. percy said,

    Oh Dan, your brain sounds like mine sometimes.

    Some days, I don’t want anyone to call, anyone to even look at me, even though I love everyone and it really has nothing to do with you, but oh god please just let me drink tea on my balcony and leave me alone for a few hours please please

    For me, what I hate about phones is not the conversation. It’s the expectation that you have a phone, that it’s on you, that missed calls will be recorded (so you’ll know who called) and so forth. That means if someone calls you, you either have to talk to them right then or call them back pretty soon otherwise they’ll say “oh I called you why didn’t you call me back I was waiting”. Especially my parents. And you can’t even turn your phone off because then what if there’s an emergency or even if there’s not people will say “why was your phone off” and no excuse will be good enough, really.

    Some days I wish there was some way to tell everyone: “Do not contact me today. If you try, I won’t answer, and I won’t return calls or follow up on messages you send me. Just pretend like I’ve gone on holiday for 12 hours. Thank you”. But that’s never going to happen, and even if it did, I’d probably overuse it and become all hermit like too often rather than being forced back to reality and interaction and all that.

    Oh, rambly. I guess I’m trying to say that I empathise.

  3. misterfinn said,

    Man, I totally relate to the hermit times. There are days I am simply unable to person at all. This particularly happens when I’ve had to interact with lots of people in the recent past. It’s also why I tend to be unnerved by events with lots of randoms like protests or concerts.

    I’ve also been turned off a lot by phones, probably less to do with the medium, but more to do with the occassion of “middle manning”. For some reason, I get a lot of people calling me, not to actually tell me anything, but to tell me to tell other people stuff. It gets very irritating because often I’ll forget some piece of vital information which disrupts the whole process or, even worse, the person will react towards me as if I were the actual person from whom the message originated (ever heard of “don’t shoot the messenger”, person?). So yeah, phones can really suck.

  4. chromefist said,

    I don’t do any of these things, I think. I could be wrong. I spend most days on the phone, a lot. I prefer phone calls to text, although I’m pretty adept at both. I’m better at getting my message across on the phone, and pressuring or persuading people to do things – which is a significant chunk of my job. I love answering machines, because I get to make the return call on my terms, and I can set the agenda, even if they only wanted to talk about something specific on the first call.

    I say this not because I have no empathy for your post; but because with everyone else relatin’, it’d be easy to get the impression that what you’re describing is some kind of universal constant that everyone else has to put up with and everyone else just pushes through except for you, and you’re some kind of big pussy because you can’t deal with it. When what’s actually happening is that the world is set up very nicely for one set of people, who deal with phones well, and hate text and its permanence for various reasons; and their preferred set-up just happens to jar rather nastily with your internal workings.

    So… I’m not sure if this comment helps or not. But I think I’m trying to say that you seem to be describing a real problem, rather than just having a whinge.

  5. Danoot said,

    well, as vaguely alluded to in-post, I don’t find business phone things to be all that problematic. This is both for reasons of justifiable distraction and because those phone-calls are very task-oriented and one can go through a checklist and then things are over and done with (it does not bother me to call large corporations and berate them until they solve my problems, or to talk to people I don’t know, about work issues. It does bother me when I end up talking to someone I do know in a work context because… what? how? man.)

    So yeah. not a problem to have to business in this fashion. personal life in this fashion is more difficult, but only really a problem when certain stars align in certain planetary conjunctions and conspire to, through their mastery of the fine-structure constant, alter my brain chemistry.

    Even then, if I just need to tell someone something, it’s not a problem, but my (specifically phone-based [usually]) social skills disintegrate to the point where, if someone calls me and there’s not a clear agenda I am all at sea. Where the stars are closer yet, and hungry.

    Then the next day it’s ok again. Weird.

    also this explanation of how things are is different to the explanation of how things are in the original post which… well, I don’t know what that means. Nothing is true and everything is permitted, maybe.

  6. naboolio said,

    OH MY GOD DAN. I CANNOT PHONE. Well, I can phone… under certain circumstances and with much angst, but… I HATE TO PHONE! I also regularly ignore phone calls and reply with sms or email or IM. I have, on many occasions, travelled all the way out to my campus in Lidcombe to avoid calling people in admin there. Phones just set off all my social anxiety in the worst way.

    Also, I have a pretty short people tolerance. I usually want to leave parties earlier than everyone else. I think that may have something to do with my really short attention span, and my natural talent for getting exhausted really easily. I think I also go a bit introverted in big groups of people, which can suck.

    I sure understand needing a break from all that stuff from time to time.

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