Communicating with Friends
The Rules of Communicating With Friends, From Missed Texts to Unplanned FaceTimes
02.25.20

It’s scary when the phone rings. What if it’s Miranda Priestly? What if it’s the guy from Scream and he has Patrick on the line? Back when I was 13, if the phone rang while I was babysitting, I would karate-kick the phone console off the wall, wake the kids from their slumber, strap them to my chest, and hightail it down the block to my mom’s. Back when I was 31, if the phone rang for a work call, I’d get so anxious about mispronouncing “hello?” that I’d pick up, then remain silent in hopes that the caller would go first or go away. However, even though that happened yesterday as I am still 31, I do very much enjoy talking on the phone sometimes—it’s just that the “sometimes” is crucial.

I prefer to do the calling unless I know a call is coming, but I can’t know a call is coming too ahead of time, or else I will begin to dread it. The best kinds of phone calls are those with family and friends that I make while I’m walking somewhere, or when I’m doing chores, or while I’m using the bathroom (with the phone on mute or not, depending on friendship category).

There are, of course, far superior ways to communicate with loved ones, like direct-messaging memes. DMing a meme says, “I love you, I’m thinking of you, and while I am indeed ignoring your text, I’m only ignoring it because I’m in a general state of responsibility avoidance, not because I’m mad at you.”

Carrier pigeons are cool if you’re the analog type.

Telepathy is also a nice option.

I love FaceTiming friends because you can call at least five times in a row if the recipient does not pick up. You could never do this with a regular phone call; they’d assume the worst had happened; with a FaceTime, it’s always for a good time.

It’s always a GoodTime for a FaceTime, I should say, which I would if I were part of Apple’s Marketing team. (Cha-ching.)

I particularly enjoy FaceTiming friends during inconvenient windows for them to answer. It makes an ordinary, otherwise boring conversation feel clandestine. It’s also an easy way to get quick answers from people who may be otherwise arbitrarily text-averse, such as myself.

It’s also-also an entertaining way to annoy friends with whom you have a sibling-esque relationship. And while I wouldn’t suggest FaceTiming your friends on repeat during their busiest hours for the sole purpose of testing their loyalty (lest you brand yourself the “Friend Who Facetimed ‘Wolf’”), friends who answer FaceTimes from the depths of public settings and/or in the middle of something important—all whispery and hunched over like you’re a dog in a backpack that they snuck into a restaurant—are real ones.

Gifs are okay so long as they don’t cause me undue stress while searching for the perfect way to self-express.

I’m very into the idea of—though not necessarily the execution of—cards, postcards, and handwritten letters. (I never have stamps, and when I do, I’m scared to use them up.)

Voice notes are an underrepresented (although not underrated) communication category. They’re admittedly tricky. It would be an administrative nightmare if everyone switched from texts to voice notes: you’d lose addresses, restaurant recommendations, meeting times, the birth dates of friends whose birthdays you always forget so each year you ask the mutual friend who remembers everyone’s birthday. Not to mention: imagine the stress of having 10+ voice notes to listen to.

Where voice notes come in handy is on the solid delivery of inside joke punchlines, when you’re walking but refuse to use Siri because you suspect she’s stealing your identity (and your jokes), and when you’re working on your comedic tight five but know that no respective friend checks her voicemails unless they’re from unknown numbers.

Note that not every friend is a voice note friend, but it’s worth trying a few out.

Emails. I actually quite like writing emails to my friends, although you wouldn’t know it by looking at my sent folder. Most of my emails to friends are doomed to sit half-complete in Drafts forever, sentenced to an eternity of purgatory all because I got distracted before actually finishing. As with the hand-written letter, I love receiving friend emails—so long as they aren’t planning/logistics-related, and so long as they don’t require me to Venmo anyone money. The problem is that while it takes just six minutes of focus to write an email, I have less focusing-bandwidth than I have stamps.

Of all my preferred forms of (non-face-to-face) communication, I enjoy texting the least. It would be boring to explain why but it does involve carpal tunnel. I appreciate the humor of texting someone in the same room as you, but it’s to my earlier point, it’s way funnier to DM a meme. Texting friends in the same room because you need to talk about someone else in the same room is dangerous. You know what’s not boring or dangerous? Sending texts with confetti.

Sending texts with confetti is, when ranked among this entire list, a superior way to converse. It takes your “okays” from just okay to Extremely Happy to Be Here. Finally texting a belated-birthday greeting to that friend who’s birthday you couldn’t find because it was saved in a voice note? Confetti! All’s forgiven. Want to convey irony but in a fun way? Confetti. There’s a satisfying haptic “pop” for both the sender and the recipient, which is 80% the reason I employ it. You don’t really have to say anything so long as you say it with confetti. Best part of all? No clean-up required.

Although I will say that sweeping confetti is an excellent time to call a friend.

Graphic by Lorenza Centi.

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