conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

1975 on Line 2: “Sorry, he’s on a long-distance call.”

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So, you understand, he cannot take your call.

My accountant’s receptionist said this a few days ago. I had not heard “long-distance” for at least 20 years. And the phrase had not been common for a good 20 years before that.

Clearly the receptionist had time-traveled from another era. How is it she still had that phrase at her disposal?


Way back when a long-distance call took priority over everything, because dollars burned with each minute of telephone time. So you stood patiently next to the telephone with a cord plugged into a wall socket. And you finished the conversation. After all, priorities are priorities.

Not so today. True, an international call is more costly, but Skype is free, and there are a number of lower-cost communication solutions. Dollars are not burning today, or at least not in the same way and not at the same pace. So we are free to flit from talk to text to snapchat to email at will, interrupting one to catch another and so on. We keep larger conversations going with more people using multiple smaller communication events. Multitasking is a kind of badge of honor that shows how important we are, though we publicly rebuke the practice.

Smart people point to attention as the currency for today. We wonder how to get attention and how to keep attention. Long-distance and dollars spent per minute once forced our focus, but today people choose to pay attention. And they often choose not to.

What will you pay attention to today?


Image credit: Kirk Livingston

Written by kirkistan

February 10, 2015 at 9:18 am

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