January 28, 2020

By Gonzalo López Martí  - Creative director, etc / lmmiami.com/

 

  • The cliché is true: calling a phone a “phone” is a misnomer in 2020.
  • It is a minicomputer that happens to offer voice as one of its multiple features and capabilities.
  • Have you seen the memes of GenZers trying to figure out how to operate a rotary phone?
  • The look of utter perplexity on their adorable faces is hilarious.
  • Think of it: when most of these kids were born payphones were already obsolete.
  • A thinly veiled pretext to display out-of-home advertising.
  • When most of these kids were born, the feature that killed prank calls -caller ID- was already widespread.
  • Not only their inability to dial on a rotary phone is funny: their total lack of conversational etiquette is risible too.
  • Some teenagers literally don’t know how to start or finish a phone conversation.
  • If they feel there’s no more verbal information to exchange, they just hang up.
  • Don’t take it personally, it is not rudeness, by no means.
  • It just so happens that in their minds a “conversation” has no beginning or end.
  • What experts in these matters deem “asynchronous communication”.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if some youths go for months these days without using their mobile phone for a proper dialogue.
  • Think of it: expressions such as “booty call” or “have your people call my people” are dated already.
  • Paradoxically, when and if an old school “synchronous” conversation is necessary, we have the luxury today of virtually going all in with one of the myriad apps that allow videoconferencing.
  • Facetime, WhatsApp, Skype, Slack et al.
  • Why risk yours and other people’s lives texting and driving when you can take it to the next level of recklessness and FACETIME while doing 60mph at the wheel of a 5,000 lb SUV?
  • America’s mean streets are teeming with folks who do just that.
  • We Latinos are notorious for this perilous attempt at suicidal multitasking.
  • Leave it to Hispanics to over-index on new and improved ways of flirting with sudden death and manslaughter.
  • Speaking of which, the dying art of telephone etiquette is, or used to be, a great source of insight into the cultural nuances crisscrossing Hispanic culture at large.
  • In the Caribbean and its adjacent nations the most frequent way to take a call is “aló”.
  • Venezuela’s defunct strongman, the late Hugo Chávez, used to host a weekly TV show called “Aló presidente” basically consisting of himself fielding calls from adoring supporters and regaling the Venezuelan people with condescending, meandering, stream-of-consciousness, narcissistic perorations.
  • Did it ever cross his mind that “aló” is a phonetic adaptation of “hello”, the language of the evil empire?
  • Anyhoo.
  • Mexicans, for some arcane reason, answer the phone with “Bueno”.
  • In their minds it is absolutely commonplace but for non-Mexicans it tends to be kind of baffling.
  • It can come across as a signal of mild exasperation, as in “OK, what now?”.
  • Which is odd because Mexicans are known for the extreme care they put into being cordial, overly so, to one another.
  • Spaniards win the price for literal, to the point, no-nonsense telephone greetings: Dígame.
  • As in “talk to me, I’m listening, spare me the niceties”.
  • In the rest of Latin America it is mostly “hola”.
  • Not too creative but efficient.
  • In contrast, when I relocated to ‘Murica a few decades back, I was pleasantly surprised at the habit among most locals of identifying themselves when they take a call: “Hello, this is Gonzalo”.
  • Practical, businesslike and cordial.
  • Did you know that many global corporate behemoths -Goldman Sachs is one of them- instruct their employees to answers phone calls before the second ring at the latest?
  • World domination is in the details.

 

 

 

 

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