It Came From The Search Terms: April Is The Cruelest Month

Time for (mostly) monthly feature where we answer the things people typed into search engines as if they were questions.

1. “How to tell my parents I’m moving out.”

You have found the place, yes?

You have a way to pay for the place and a way to move your stuff to the place? If you are expecting resistance from your folks around the topic of moving out, having your financial and logistical house in order is a wonderful rebuttal.

Make your plan, and then tell them when the pieces of the plan are in place. “Mom/Dad, Mom/Mom, Dad/Dad, Mom/Dad/Moppa, I found a new place and I’m going to move there on x date. Thanks for putting me up, I really appreciate it.”

If these aren’t the sort of parents who will be happy about this news, don’t bother trying to sell them on the features of this or convince them that it’s a good idea or give reasons or get too far into the details. “I’ve got that handled, thanks for asking!” is a good non-answer for the intrusive.

2. “How to say that you want her but just can’t be together.”

What are you trying to communicate here, and what do you want to happen after you say this? If you can own the decision as a decision (and not throw your hands up to vague “circumstances”) you will put “her” in the best possible position to move on. “I really like you and care about you, but I’ve decided that we shouldn’t be together.” “I am so attracted to you, but I’m sorry, I know that I don’t want to be with you in that kind of relationship.”

3. “My cousin will not speak to me on the phone but will only text am I being avoided.”

Does your cousin text you back promptly, and initiate texting sometimes? Then it’s likely you are not being avoided, but phone conversations are being avoided. Does your cousin not really respond to communications? Then maybe they are avoiding you.

One way to find out/get what you want done: “Cousin, I know you prefer texts, but can we talk on the phone for a few minutes later today? I have some stuff to hash out and it will be quicker that way. Thanks.”

4. “What to say on a suicide hotline.”

“I’m having a rough time and some suicidal thoughts, can I talk to someone about that?” 

Those hotline operators have heard it all, my friend. You aren’t going to weird them out or somehow “do it wrong.” They are waiting for you to call and take a step toward feeling better.

5. “How to quit in a awkward workplace.”

Do it in writing. “Dear Boss, I am leaving my position as of (date). Best wishes,

Two weeks’ notice is usual in the USA. You don’t have to tell them where you are going or why, especially not in the resignation letter.

6. “My ex fiance made it very clear he doesn’t want to hear from me.”

Whatever brought about those circumstances clearly SUCKS, but I hope you’ll take him at his word and let it be a truly clean break for both of you.

7. “My ex wants to talk but I don’t.”

Tell them once: “I want to make this a clean break. Please stop contacting me.”

If you’ve already done so, good. Your next step in both cases is to not respond to any contact from them, no matter what form it takes. Set them to perma-ignore.

8. “What to say to an ex-boyfriend when he still emails you.”

Total silence is good. You can set up a filter so that these messages bypass your inbox completely if you like.

9. “How to deal with guy who says he doesn’t want a relationship with you but with another girl.”

Step 1: Believe his words.

Step 2: Ignore his existence.

Step 3: Go live your awesome life.

10. “What are the reasons for wife to be angry with me while we are in bed.”

This could be so many things. “Wife, I feel like you are angry at me, but I don’t know why. What’s the deal?

11. “My mom hates me and my boyfriend porn.” 

I’m sure it’s out there, because every kind of porn is out there. Seek and ye shall find!

12. “Don’t bother sending kisses to people who ignore someone when they have other things to do and people to see to.”

Solid call.

13. “A girl shows interest in public but ignores my fb msgs.”

She may never check her Facebook messages. Do you have another way to contact her?

What happens if you translate this as “A girl shows kindness/attention when we’re in public, but when I try to contact her more directly she ignores/rebuffs it”?

You’d probably stop sending her messages, is my guess, which is the correct path here. If she wants to message you, she can and she will.

14. “Movie set in New Orleans with African Americans.”

It’s a TV show and not a movie, but I’m partial to HBO’s Treme and the masterful performances by Clarke Peters, Wendell Pierce, Khandi Alexander, and others. Try to keep not dancing while listening to thisTrouble The Water is a powerhouse documentary, told real time during Hurricane Katrina by survivors. Kasi Lemmon’s Eve’s Bayou is set in rural Louisiana and is a freaking masterpiece of acting and directing.

15. “Hot sexy drunk texts.”

“The temperature is very high in here, I am drunk, and you are sexy,” covers most of these bases.

16. “Shit boyfriend and an asshole brother in law.”

The Toast, one of my favorite websites, has many readings that will appeal to you in this time of personal misandry.

17. “My boyfriend said I can’t visit because he is hosting his cousin.”


18. “Had dinner with friends and wanted to let them know we enjoyed their company.”

An email or a text or a handwritten note that says: “It was so nice to see you, let’s do this again soon!” would not go amiss.

19. “How do you get rid of your son’s girlfriend.”



Or, realize that who your son dates is not your decision, so chill out and wait. If she’s really as bad as you think, he’ll wake up to it a lot sooner if he doesn’t have to cleave unto her to prove a point to you.

20. “My partner ignores me for days on end to my face. Is this emotional abuse.”


21. “Behold the field in which I grow my fucks.”


An old timey-sampler that says "Behold the field in which I grow my fuck. Lay thine eyes upon it and see that it is barren."

102 thoughts on “It Came From The Search Terms: April Is The Cruelest Month

  1. In case “how do I get rid of my son’s girlfriend” means not “how do i get my son to dump his GF” but rather “how do I get my son’s GF out of my living room/spare room/inbox”, I recommend “I think you’re a fine person and I’m glad you and Son are so good for each other, but I’m not feeling this level of closeness yet/I need my spare room back by the end of the month/I’ve got my wedding to arrange, my wife to kill, and Guilder to frame for it, I’m swamped”.

  2. I don’t know about #17 – is it a case of “I’ve got a house guest, sorry, we can’t have sleepovers” or is it more like “I need you to pretend our relationship doesn’t exist and maybe even you don’t exist because my family is around”?

    1. Yeah. And that’s a super sucky place to be in. I think you have to talk about it and blank refusal to sucks, but also sometimes the answer is “I really can’t be out to them about this right now”.

  3. I honestly read #11 as the mom hates that the OP and their boyfriend are *making* porn. I forgot for a second that you always get one that’s some unfortunate quest for p0rn.

    Now I’m just glad it isn’t one with someone trying to do something illegal to an animal.

    1. Yeah, I find myself fascinated by what other parsings of #11 might be. E.g.:
      * Querent and Boyfriend made porn, and Mom disapproves (or dislikes it; I suspect, and I’m sure the Captain can confirm, making a movie is harder than it looks).
      * Slight variation: Querent has porn of Boyfriend, a fact that has drawn Mom’s ire.
      * Porn is the querent’s boyfriend, and Mom hates that.
      * Mom hates that Querent and Boyfriend incorporate porn into their sex life.

      Or maybe the querent adds “porn” to the end of every search string because muscle memory.

      1. I did the same “attempt to parse while head spins” thing! I think the only one I had that you don’t is:

        * Mom hates the Querent and the Querent’s porn involving generic boyfriends.

      2. I read it as them searching for porn where the storyline is the mother hates their boyfriend and this is a fetish somehow.

        Or something.

  4. I wish I had known #20 a lot sooner. It is nice to see it phrased unambiguously in plain legible alphabet-using writing like that.

    1. I had to read 11 a few times too before I got it. My first thought was ‘well I imagine porn of you and your boyfriend would be hard for most moms to accept.’

  5. Oh, Seeker Number 4, I feel you.

    TW: suicidality
    It’s been not quite a year since the day I called the suicide hotline. I had taken my daughter to her usual Monday class and was on the way home. But it was hard to see the freeway through the tears. I had had that *final* discussion with my husband, the one that had been brewing for a year, where I just said, “I can’t be here anymore waiting for you to choose what you want. I deserve to be happy and with someone who wants me.”

    You would think, that after that conversation, I would be calling friends, rallying Team Me, and getting ready to party. Instead, there I was on the freeway, driving home to a home that wasn’t mine anymore, sobbing, and thinking the center divider of the freeway looked like a good thing to crash into at 80mph.

    So I punched in the number, not even knowing if it was actually the number (800suicide worked here in CA). A lovely person answered the phone, and I started gibbering. “I just need someone to talk to me until I get home.” And they did. For 30 minutes, this person listened, expressed empathy, told me how very sorry they were that I was going through this, and that, no, the concrete barrier in the middle of the freeway was not the right place to put my car.

    I owe that person my life. I wish there was a way to find them and thank them.

    Seeker Number 4, say whatever you need to say to get you through another minute, another second. These people will hear you with no judgement. Say anything, but please, make the call.

    1. I’m very glad you made the call. Jedi hugs if you would like them.

      And maybe by telling your story, you’ll save someone else’s life — you can’t pay it back, so pay it forward.

    2. I don’t even want to talk about my single experience with a suicide hotline. Let’s just say it was a lot different than Faerierebecca’s.

      1. I’m so sorry you went through that, and you definitely don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to… but if you find yourself able/willing to talk about it, I would love to hear the “worst case scenario” in order to steel myself.

        Either way, I hope you are doing better now.

        Someone who has not yet called a hotline but might do in the future

        1. It was many years ago, back in 1995. I had a huge fight with my parents and was in my room despondent. I don’t remember exactly how suicidal I was but called the number for the national suicide hotline. I remember the person sounding extremely bored and uninterested in anything I had to say. I hung up after about a minute because it was obvious to me this person wasn’t going to pay attention to anything I said. I also remember being very angry about it.

          1. That really sucks, I am sorry it happened to you.

            I once called a suicide hotline in the middle of the night after a huge figt with my bf (due to a depressive episode), and the woman was… mostly ok, engaged, but in that “man up and dont do anything stupid” way. She told me that I shouldnt want my bf to help me seek rpofessional help about my depression because it is my problem and not his. I was really uncomfortable with that. She also ended the call saying that she has other people calling in. But on the whole, it helped – I stopped being angry at bf and was angry at her instead 🙂 But weirdly enough, that anger and a feeling that even people paid to do so dont understand me made me feel more alive, and got me trough that particular time…

  6. “Movie set in New Orleans with African Americans.”

    Beasts of the Southern Wild! It’s not set in New Orleans precisely, more a slightly fantasy version of the bayou outside the city, but it is phenomenal and features really fantastic performances from African Americans (particularly Quvenzhane Wallis).

    1. Came here to second Beasts of the Southern Wild. Incredible, fantastic, and Quvenzhane steals the show! Absolutely a must-watch.

    2. Yes, this! It was filmed mostly out in Houma, but a lot of *the actors themselves* are New Orleanians. The man who plays Hushpuppy’s father in the film owns a bakery in the Seventh Ward. 🙂

  7. #14
    Deja Vu starring Denzel Washington. It has its issues but I love it dearly because time travel.

  8. #1, if you’re in a really not-good family situation you may be worried that they’ll kick you to the curb if you say you’re moving out. If this is the case, I’d suggest not telling them until *after* your official move-in date at the new place. Pack the most essential things up and take them to the new place, then tell your parents in whatever way feels safest (in person? by phone? email?) that you’ve moved. Be prepared to lose any belongings that are still in your parents house after you’ve broken the news to them.

    1. Sometimes you can treat it like a breakup–if you don’t have a lot of stuff and have a friend with a truck, pick a time when your parents are out, move everything out, then tell them. It feels weird and not-nice, but if you’re scared, you don’t have to be nice. Get over heavy ground as light as you can.

  9. Captain, for number 11: “My mom hates me and my boyfriend porn”, I get the impression you think the searcher is looking for porn in which someone’s mother hates them and their boyfriend.

    I read it another way, as the searcher having made porn with their boyfriend, and their mother having found out and hating this fact.

    Perhaps your advice for the second scenario would be different?

  10. I don’t know if #1 is me but I have asked that question before. I am moving in with boyfriend of 3 years from family home and parents are very traditional Catholics who strongly disapprove of sex before marriage/living together before marriage etc. I was terrified of what they’d say – I didn’t want conflict because there has been too much of that in our history that has ended badly (like announcing my opinions on Catholicism for example!)

    I ended up following the advice in a related reader question which suggested just announcing it as good happy news. Not allowing too many questions and definitely not suggesting I was asking for permission. In the end their response was “we’d prefer you got married first but we don’t want to push you away so good luck, well miss you etc”. Apart from the marriage guilt trip, which I expected, it was all positive and we’re set to have a much more adult to adult relationship in the future. I did make sure I had everything planned as a precaution but it all went so much better than I expected.

    1. I’m so glad this worked out for you. I’ve been questioning how I would go about doing this a lot lately (despite the fact that I am not actually moving in with anyone and that I’m single as a pringle). My parents are also very Catholic and very Indian, so I don’t know how I’d have that conversation. Maybe hear out their concerns so they feel respected but tell them I need to make the decision in the end? I’m just afraid that it would turn them against my imaginary partner forever. Anyway. It’s a problem for future me to figure out!

    1. I Hope that’s the context of #2’s question, because one of my initial takes was much sadder.

        1. A version of that phrase I’m familiar with goes something like, “I love you but we can’t be together [because you treat me badly].”

  11. So what I’m getting from this is that nonbinary parents are exclusively polyamorous.

    1. Is that what Moppa means? I hadn’t heard/read it before and I assumed it was a term of endearment for a grandparent.

      1. My impression of Moppa/Moppy/Pommy has been that it’s a term of endearment for a nonbinary parent or a binary trans parent who transitioned after becoming a parent. I didn’t know it was a Transparent reference; I’m just a nonbinary polyamorous person who was happy to see those kinds of families acknowledged.

          1. Sorry, no, it was meant to be a silly and happy response, but reading it now I can see that that totally didn’t convey through text. Have a lovely day!

    2. What happened is that I threw out a Transparent reference. What you are getting is what you are putting in.

      1. This is cool – I didn’t know that word before. I assumed it was a disambiguating term for another parent of a pre-existing sex/gender, like Mom/Mama or whatever.

  12. On a more serious note, dear #3, I too am a person who is extremely uncomfortable with phone conversations but fine with texting, and I think that’s actually not a terribly uncommon way to be. If your cousin seems responsive over text, my advice would be to ask something like “I’ve been getting the sense that you would rather avoid phone conversations. Should I just stick to text from now on?” I disagree with the advice to further pressure them into having a phone conversation; it would be really awkward for me to be on the receiving end of a line like the one the Captain gave you.

    1. Seconded – texting is not inherently a lesser form of communication if the person on the other end isn’t ignoring you. If you’re willing to engage with your cousin in their preferred communication style I think that would be very nice.

    2. As another one who dislikes phone conversations (I have audio processing difficulties which mean I require a very clear line and an absence of background noise in order for any phone conversation to be understandable, much less enjoyable), I’d second the advice to ask. For me, texting and email are definitely the way to go – far easier to understand what the other person is attempting to convey, and much less embarrassing to ask for clarification.

    3. I’m more of an email than text person, but I’ll take text over phone any day. There’s nothing worse then when you tell someone “I really hate using the phone. If you want to communicate with me, use email or text” & then they just keep phoning you. Now it could be because they are horrible on tiny keyboards (watching my father text is actually painful & I feel immensely loved whenever I get a text from him cuz I know the amount of effort it takes him to type “thinking of you, love dad”), but it often can feel like they don’t really care about your feelings.

  13. On a more serious note, dear 3, I too am a person who is extremely uncomfortable with phone conversations but fine with texting, and I think that’s actually not a terribly uncommon way to be. If your cousin seems responsive over text, my advice would be to ask something like “I’ve been getting the sense that you would rather avoid phone conversations. Should I just stick to text from now on?” I disagree with the advice to further pressure them into having a phone conversation; it would be really awkward for me to be on the receiving end of a line like the one the Captain gave you.

    1. Yeah the phone is sooooo hard for me, but text is great. If you don’t want to text for longer conversations, try to get them onto some sort of IM client like Skype, or FB chat or something, typing is faster than those little fiddly phone buttons. Assuming they do want to talk to you.

      They could also be on a pay-go phone where texting is dirt cheap compared to talking.

    2. The list of people I am willing to regularly have phone conversations with, in it’s entirety, is:
      -my mother

      That’s it. If someone asked me to talk over the phone to deal with something specific then I might agree (but even then I’d prefer email). If it’s something they started asking for regularly? Then honestly I’d probably find myself reevaluating how close I really want to be to them.

      So I totally agree with argent that unless there is something specific and well defined you really need to talk to them about I would avoid asking for a phone conversation. You already know they’d prefer not to talk on the phone so what’s to be gained by pushing for that?

      1. “The list of people I am willing to regularly have phone conversations with, in it’s entirety, is:
        -my mother”


        Luckily, the same is true of my spouse, so we happily don’t call each other except when we haaaave to.

        I have a sibling who prefers the phone and won’t text, and the consequence is that she and I barely talk. :/

        1. Sometimes email can be an acceptable halfway for people with conflicting communication preferences? I prefer phone to text for detailed or complicated convos, my eldest strongly prefers text to phone under most any circumstance, so if we need to do more than a two sentence back and forth, I’ll ask them to email me. I absolutely do not have the patience or dexterity to hen peck out three paragraphs worth of information, and they freeze up on the phone, but we’re both fairly comfortable with email, so that works for us.

          1. I use Facebook chat as another alternative – it’s more immediate than emails, but I can type on my actual keyboard and not my phone’s piddly excuse for it, which I have to for texts/WhatsApp. (Although WhatsApp has a web interface now, so that works too)

      2. I will call to make a doctor’s appointment. It generally takes less than a minute and a half and I know exactly what to expect. Anything else, NOPE.

    3. I can understand the stress (I would never use the phone again if I had the option) but I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with asking (once) for something that you want. If the person were asking constantly or guilt-tripping that would be one thing, but just saying, “Hey, I’d like to give you a call later. Can we do that?” and then being accepting of the answer they get, that doesn’t seem wrong to me.

    4. I have to agree regarding the script. If someone sent me ” I have some stuff to hash out and it will be quicker that way.” I would read it as We Need to Talk and then the ol’ jerkbrain would be in full swing having a dance party and I’d be hiding in the back of the closet looking for Narnia.


    5. I despise phone calls, but honestly, sometimes I find myself having to give a little to get a little. I have a friend who hates texting- HATES- almost to the extent that I hate phone calls. Texting makes her uncomfortable; she finds it impersonal, robotic, and that it doesn’t satisfy her need for interaction. So I do short chats with her on the phone sometimes, and she does short text volleys with me sometimes. If #3 doesn’t mind communicating solely over text, NBD! But I do think it’s fair to ask for what you need, as long as everyone’s considerate.

    6. I think the Captain’s advice is sitting badly with me because it seems deceptive: it’s one thing to go “hey cousin, I’d really like to phone you at some point because text just isn’t the same for me, would you be okay with that?” or something similar, but the script as-stands makes it sound as if #3 has something to discuss that doesn’t work well over text (some complicated thing with a lot of back and forth). If it was me in the cousin’s shoes, I’d probably grudgingly acquiesce because of that and then feel really upset and deceived when it turned out there was no such thing, it was just that the person wanted to talk with me in person.

      (another person who dislikes the phone with everyone other than my mother.)

      1. How is it deceptive when a) this is a drive-by question, we don’t know what the person wants to talk about and b) one possible answer to “can we talk on the phone” is “No.”

        If you hate talking on the phone so much that no one can even ask you about the possibility of it, then say no when someone does and ride out the awkwardness in service of your comfort/principles.

        1. To clarify: my objection isn’t to the request for a conversation, it’s to the framing I have some stuff to hash out and it will be quicker that way, in the situation where it’s not actually true that there’s something complicated to hash out, it’s just that the other person wants to use the phone. And yeah, fair point that we don’t know what #3 wants to talk about. I was imagining a situation where someone used that line on me and it ended up clear that they just wanted to chat – I would not be happy with the other person.

          Also, considering your second paragraph I feel the need to point out I gave an example of a script for asking-to-use-the-phone I’d be perfectly okay with in my comment. :/ Again, my objection is to giving “stuff to hash out that would be quicker on the phone” as a reason if there isn’t any.

      2. I see where you’re coming from, but I have to wonder if this isn’t a trap that those of us who are phone-averse set for ourselves. Our attitude that phone calls are for REASONS is just as unspoken as their desire to just have a chat without cause. Is it fair to get upset in that case? Should they feel deceived that we said yes when we didn’t really want to? I’m not piling on here- it’s just something that I’ve noticed in myself and with friends, that our anxieties sometimes end up outweighing the wants and needs of the people we care about.

        1. For the record, I think it’s fine to prefer phone conversations or prefer texting, for whatever reason (anxiety is a good reason!). Just, preferring one to the other is a fairly equal value proposition, so I’m not going to come in to say “Phone talkers are rude and inconsiderate for ever asking a text-preferrer to talk!” You can always ask for what you want and say no to what you don’t want, and if you want to interact with the person badly enough you can work it out together.

          1. I agree wholeheartedly. To me, I’m reading all this and finding myself reminded of the current popular introversion narrative (and I say this as an introvert with social anxiety of the phone and in-person variety who knows there’s a difference) in which people who have different social wants/needs= RUDE AND INCOMPATIBLE.

        2. I think what’s frustrating me about this is that I, personally, would absolutely accept “texts don’t carry the same emotional weight for me, can we please phone every now and then?” and might very well force myself out of my comfort zone for a friend who said that. So it’s not that phone calls *have* to be for REASONS, or rather that “I really want to talk to you over the phone because communicating only in text doesn’t work for me” can absolutely be a REASON. Coming from that, having someone misrepresent why they want to call is… ugh, I’m having trouble describing this properly.

          Here’s an imperfect analogy: it feels as though a friend is really tired of not seeing you much because you haven’t been feeling emotionally up to meeting up very much. But instead of telling you “hey, I know you’re not up to people much but I’d really like to meet you at some point anyway – I miss you and am really sad about the fact we barely see each other these days” or something along those lines and letting you decide where to go from there, they pretend that there is some specific thing they need you to help them with in person in order to get you to agree to meet with them. This analogy is imperfect because there’s a lot more involved in meeting up with someone than a phone call, but it’s the closest thing I can think of to the “claim there are urgent REASONS for a phone call because you want to chat” scenario that’s bothering me.

          1. I guess I didn’t read the Captain’s original script in that way. “Things to hash out” could be any number of things to me- even if it’s just venting about crappy coworkers or shooting the breeze. Your mileage may vary, I guess.

          2. Yeah, to me the phrasing implies some specific issue you want to talk about that would be difficult and time-consuming to do over text, for instance because it involves a lot of back and forth. It would definitely not include venting or shooting the breeze.

  14. I prefer talking on the phone to texting. My friend and I are drifting because she prefers texting to talking on the the phone. No one is wrong, but I’m tired of us only texting. No, we don’t need to talk on the phone, but the imbalance is annoying.

    1. This was happening between me & my BFF. We finally had a come-to-Jesus talk about it (mostly me saying look, talking on the phone can make me physically ill from anxiety). She really hates email. Now we’ve come to a compromise. I initiate a lot of little convos over text, she replies in short texts & then since I don’t feel so pressured, I’m able to answer 1 out of 3 calls (instead if 1 out of 10). Now that I know that she can give a little, I can even call her once in a while.

  15. To me texting is for simple information exchanging or quick queries. Any type of communication requiring a back and forth conversation is something that should be handled over the phone or in person.

    Maybe it’s a generational thing but I don’t understand why anyone would actually WANT to have a conversation via texting. My phone has QWERTY keyboard but it’s still much more labored to try to have a full conversation that way. Why make thing more difficult than they need to be?

    1. “Why make thing more difficult than they need to be?”

      This is exactly why I prefer texting to talking. Texting is quick and easy and (mostly) stress-free for me. Talking on the phone is always an effort, it makes me anxious and uncomfortable, and I only do it if I absolutely have to, since feeling that way is not fun. Texting is much lower-key, and it allows time to process the incoming text and formulate a suitable response.

    2. For me, because I trip over my tongue and rarely hear an entire sentence properly (them – “we’ll meet at the cafe” me – “you’re feeding a giraffe?”), texting/fb messaging/whatever is much easier. It also lets me reference previous bits of the conversation and take time out to think about replies. And if you are busy then the conversation can take place in 30s chunks, rather than having to block out phone time. Everything from planning outings to stupid conversations about tapirs taking over the world are easier via text-based media for me.

      Plus, some people have social anxiety that means using the phone is a terrifying experience, so for them texting is basically the only option.

    3. Some people with social anxiety also very commonly have anxiety around talking on the phone, and being able to communicate through text can make life a lot easier. I have a pretty severe phone phobia, and I’m so glad that people are moving more towards communicating through text. It means I can connect with people where I might have avoided it before, because there was an expectation of talking on the phone, and the accompanying anxiety attacks just weren’t worth it.

      1. Oh god, that’s me. I have to really steel myself before making a phone call, or even answering the phone when it’s ringing (somehow this doesn’t happen with bill collectors & clients). It used to be so bad that I would have “GI distress” (euphemism) everytime I even thought about making a phone call.

    4. I do think it’s generational. The other night I had a 40 minute phone conversation with an out of town friend and we both marveled at how long it had been since either of us had done such a thing – whereas in our teenage and college years it was so normal to just call someone up at night and talk for hours. I miss the intimacy of a long confessional chat with a friend in the privacy of one’s bedroom, but it seems rude and interruptive these days to just phone someone to talk, freighted with Big Talk Significance that it didn’t used to have.

      And for practical conversations I feel the same way as you: I hate dragging out a conversation for 700 clarifying texts back and forth when you can do it so much faster on the phone.

      1. I think it’s only generational in the sense that maybe it’s more socially acceptable among younger generations to converse mostly through text. I’m sure that, before texting was a thing, there were plenty of people who had a lot of trouble talking on the phone and either did it even though it was a major hardship or just didn’t talk to people very much if they couldn’t see them or write to them. The fact that we didn’t have such an easy solution to the problem before doesn’t mean the problem is new.

        I definitely agree that it’s a lot harder to have long phone conversations with people now. Before cell phones were as common as they are now, people had to be at home to answer the phone, so they were more likely to be in a place where they could not do much else for an hour or whatever and just talk. Now when you call someone, they might be running errands or in a loud public place or hanging with someone else or doing all kinds of other things even if they answer. The likelihood that they’re just chilling at home is way smaller.

      2. I am more than likely from that same generation you mention, and I very much prefer texting or IM to a conversation on the phone. I had some same-age friends who liked to randomly call me on weekends and yammer at me for hours when I was trying to clean/cook/make art/watch a SyFy Originals marathon and it irked me to no end. Text me like someone who has things to do, because dog knows I do!

    5. For me the huge difference is investment of time. With text or Facebook messenger or IM etc, I can reply at my leisure and be doing a few other things at once. Most of the time, I prefer that, especially if it’s just a shooting-the-shit type of back and forth where we talk about Game of Thrones and cheese. I can also have two or three of these going at once! A phone conversation to me, is *about* something. It’s either a quick conversation where it’s just easier to say it out loud and get the other person’s response (Hey Boyfriend, meet me at home if you’ll be home within fifteen minutes but if not come meet me at the mall food court cause I’m going over there to meet Amy for her break and no this is in no way pressure to get home faster). Or, it’s a longer more intense conversation that probably has a focus–say, calling my best friend because she just got dumped and needs to talk, or talking to my co-organizer about how to deal with a potential problem person.

      A “shoot the shit talk about nothing” phone conversation is stressful for me as I feel like it’s the worst of both worlds between text/IM and real life. I can’t do anything else but talk to them, and there’s no face to face interaction. I also struggle to think of things to say and feel like awkward silences happen more often. Anyway, that’s my feelings on the phone–it’s OK but generally not for casual chatting, for me. If I had a friend who vastly preferred the phone and wanted to chat I’d make time to do that, but they’d have to ask cause otherwise I would never think to do it.

    6. I’m the same way, and this is definitely personal preference, with maybe a little generational leaning.

    7. It all depends on your definition of “more difficult than they need to be”.

      For example, if you’re someone like me, who has audio processing problems (my brain hears the background and foreground noise all at the same effective “level” – so in a phone conversation, I’ll be hearing the line noise, the background noise and the vocal input from the person speaking in the phone as being equal priority. This means I have to actually expend mental effort in picking out the important bits, rendering them into appropriate context and then wringing the content out of them) or if you’re someone like my parents (who are in their seventies and going deaf), it is actually a lot easier to get the relevant information supplied by the phone conversation via a textual means.

      My audio processing problems also mean that for me, the long, rambling phone conversation about nothing is essentially a multi-minute slice of hell. I have to exert actual effort to figure out which bits of what I’m hearing is your conversation, then I have to do another pass over the whole thing to parse it and work out what you’re saying and what you’re meaning. Then I have to switch tracks to come up with a cogent response (which means there *is* going to be a noticeable gap on my end, because these things take time), then I have to switch *back* to listening mode, and hope I can keep up with whatever you’re saying in reply to me.

      At least with texting I can write off the pauses between exchanges as being typing time, rather than “oh gods, am I supposed to be saying something here?”

      1. I prefer the phone for actual conversation (as opposed to exchange of information- if that makes sense)

        But I’m willing to let it ring when I don’t want to talk.

        Long story short: I think there are lots of reasons to have preferences in this area, and best bet is to explicitly say your own.

        In my case it might be age, or it might be that I don’t multitask well, or it might be that I have a hard time deciphering what autocorrect does to some people’s texts, or it might be sound effects or any number of things.

        Hell, it might even be that I am willing to say “gotta go” when I do.

      2. For example, if you’re someone like me, who has audio processing problems (my brain hears the background and foreground noise all at the same effective “level” – so in a phone conversation, I’ll be hearing the line noise, the background noise and the vocal input from the person speaking in the phone as being equal priority. This means I have to actually expend mental effort in picking out the important bits, rendering them into appropriate context and then wringing the content out of them)

        Ahhh this is exactly what I have. Supposedly I could theoretically get it diagnosed but the process requires a lot of “ruling out other things” and it sounds super tedious and potentially expensive for the marginal benefit of being able to point to a piece of paper saying what I “have”. (Though that might be useful for negotiating course grading for language papers with oral components…)

        1. I’ve never been formally diagnosed, either – I just figured it out after reading descriptions from people who had. Getting it formally diagnosed would involve lots of back and forth between audiologists, psychologists, ENT specialists and all the rest, all to point out the obvious: I had a lot of middle ear infections as a kid, and one of them clearly hit at the point where my ears and brain were supposed to be putting in the “foreground/background” priority separation systems and bollixed them up.

  16. Wow, all of your responses are very interesting! I have one friend who’s an avid texter and I can’t fathom how he lives his life like that. We hang out a lot to play cards or other games and it seems like he can’t go 5 minutes without having someone text him, so he has to stop and look at it. It kind of annoys me from a spectator’s perspective; I’d break my phone in exasperation if I was getting so many texts. I also tend to put my cell phone on my nightstand whenever I’m home, so I’m not always going to know when someone texts me until later.

    I would’ve also never occurred to me that some people view telephone conversations as reserved for Important Talks, so from that perspective I can see why they may cause people some anxiety.

  17. How *do* you figure out which questions led people here?

    Also, that last pic is something I love so much. XD And 15 makes me giggle; I can see my boyfriend sending me that. He’s that kind of person. He would send a stilted drunk text that makes me crack up.

    1. WordPress back end has a whole page for “stats” – among them being sites that refer readers here and search engine terms. I just scroll through the hundreds in a given month and pick the ones that jump out at me.

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