And right in my face? Clive Thompson notes how retro it is:

Consider: If I suddenly decide I want to dial you up, I have no way of knowing whether you’re busy, and you have no idea why I’m calling. We have to open Schrödinger’s box every time, CELLHELLStanHonda:Getty having a conversation to figure out whether it’s OK to have a conversation. Plus, voice calls are emotionally high-bandwidth, which is why it’s so weirdly exhausting to be interrupted by one. (We apparently find voicemail even more excruciating: Studies show that more than a fifth of all voice messages are never listened to.)

The telephone, in other words, doesn’t provide any information about status, so we are constantly interrupting one another. The other tools at our disposal are more polite. Instant messaging lets us detect whether our friends are busy without our bugging them, and texting lets us ping one another asynchronously. (Plus, we can spend more time thinking about what we want to say.) For all the hue and cry about becoming an “always on” society, we’re actually moving away from the demand that everyone be available immediately.

The iPhone and AT&T are doing their best to help.

(Photo: Stan Honda/Getty.)

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