The New Phone Phobics Use Gizmos For Everything But Talking

And that is precisely why they appeal to people like 27-year-old Katia Bachko, an assistant editor at the Columbia Journalism Review currently between apartments, who in July made the big leap and bought an iPhone.

Ms. Bachko said the little gizmo has kicked her phone call “avoidance disorder” into high gear. Just ask the friend she saw the other day with whom she hasn’t had more than a “two-sentence” phone conversation in the past three years. Or the guy she recently dated for five months, with whom she spoke on the phone a total of (no joke) one time.

“When I look at my cell phone, I don’t look at it as a way of talking to people,” said Ms. Bachko, speaking from her landline in the CJR offices. “This is just the thing I use for text messaging or to check email.”

Ms. Flynn, the philanthropy consultant, lamented the change.

“When I was in high school it was such a big deal to get my own line and talk for hours upon hours about nothing and everything all at once,” she wrote, “and now I don’t even want to call and ask my friends what bar they’re at because it takes too much effort. Sigh.”

Why don’t people want to talk anymore?

Dalton Conley, chair of the sociology department at N.Y.U., suggested it’s because smart phones enable both our laziness and our A.D.D.

“Texting you can do while you’re doing something else. A verbal conversation requires a lot more focus,” said Professor Conley, whose book Elsewhere, USA, about technology’s impact on daily life, will be out from Pantheon on Jan. 13. “People were doodling in meetings long before there were text messages.”

Of course, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

“The debate is, does this constant texting of short, Twitter-like messages then facilitate in-depth conversation, or does it supplant it?” Professor Conley said. “I think it supplants it. It reduces people’s commitments. It’s easy to just text someone to cancel plans and not have to face hearing their disappointment or frustration.”

That’s why Nicole Ferejohn, a 27-year-old who works on Wall Street and lives in Carroll Gardens, is wary of her brand-new Storm.

One night a few weeks ago, Ms. Ferejohn was hanging out with a group of friends when she realized, after numerous requests for her “BBM name,” that she was the only person of the bunch who didn’t have one. She caved into the pressure and ordered a BlackBerry the following morning.

“I felt like I needed to have it because I didn’t want to be left out, but the fact of the matter is, I’ve held out this long because I don’t want to become one of those people who freaks out if they accidentally leave their phone at home. It makes it too easy, and you lose that effort you have to make with people,” said Ms. Ferejohn, who was drowning her anxieties in a pint of India pale ale at a dimly lit East Village pub one evening a few days before her BlackBerry came in the mail. She took a sip and frowned. “I don’t want this to become the only way we communicate. That would be so sad!”

jpompeo@observer.com