One Good Reason to Pick Up the Phone

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Older generations love to gripe about millennials, but one complaint that holds widely true (unlike the threadbare aspersions cast on our love of expensive coffees and avocado toast) is our hatred of phone calls. With so many non-voice options available, texting and email first among them, why be interrupted by a surprise imposition like that? It may seem easier to deal with the wider world over text, but if you're struggling with loneliness, it turns out there's no better cure than a human voice.

That's according to a new study from researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Chicago. We worry about sounding awkward on the phone, but those fears are generally overblown. "When it came to actual experience, people reported they did form a significantly stronger bond with their old friend on the phone versus email, and they did not feel more awkward," said coauthor Amit Kumar.

In other words, even if you're staying separated for health reasons, you'll get a lot more from your interactions if you insert a human element into your communication. This has been true in earlier research about connecting with your colleagues at work: One study found that you're more likely to persuade someone who disagrees with you if you engage them in person, rather than through a written medium.

We also have good, physiological reasons to prefer the phone over Zoom for connections during the pandemic. Sure, we're all stressed out — but we've got the oldest trick in the book for soothing ourselves if we want.