Young people long ago abandoned old-fashioned phone calls, preferring texting, instant messaging, and emailing. But now, the mainstream dominance of electronic communication means that "full-fledged adults" — not just teens — have largely given up the telephone, too, says Pamela Paul in The New York Time. These days, a phone call signifies either an emergency or the inconsiderateness of the person on the other end; couldn't they have emailed instead? And while some people may mourn the intimacy the human voice can provide, the fact is that phone calls were always "rude," "intrusive," and "awkward." Here, an excerpt:

Receiving calls on the cellphone can be a particular annoyance. First, there's the assumption that you're carrying the thing at all times. For those in homes with stairs, the cellphone siren can send a person scrambling up and down flights of steps in desperate pursuit. Having the cellphone in hand doesn't necessarily lessen the burden. After all, someone might actually be using the phone: someone who is in the middle of scrolling through a Facebook photo album. Someone who is playing Cut the Rope. Someone who is in the process of painstakingly touch-tapping an important email.

For the most part, assiduous commenting on a friend's Facebook updates and periodically e-mailing promises to "catch up by phone soon" substitute for actual conversation. With friends who merit face time, arrangements are carried out via electronic transmission. "We do everything by text and e-mail," said Laurie David, a Hollywood producer and author. "It would be strange at this point to try figuring all that out by phone."

Read the entire piece at The New York Times.