August 02, 2008
Voicemail To Leave Your Lover

There are a lot more than 50 ways to leave your lover and technological advances produce yet more ways to do the deed.

When Alexis Gorman, 26, wanted to tell a man she had been dating that the courtship was over, she felt sending a Dear John text message was too impersonal. But she worried that if she called the man, she would face an awkward conversation or a confrontation.

Alexis, did you really want to achieve your first real fame in life by getting described in the New York Times as someone who used Slydial to ditch some guy? Also, did you do this as a way to make him hear it twice?

If you get bad news from a romantic interest in email, well, they didn't want to tell you directly.

So she found a middle ground. She broke it off in a voice mail message, using new technology that allowed her to jump directly to the suitor’s voice mail, without ever having to talk to the man — or risk his actually answering the phone.

The technology, called Slydial, lets callers dial a mobile phone but avoid an unwanted conversation — or unwanted intimacy — on the other end. The incoming call goes undetected by the recipient, who simply receives the traditional blinking light or ping that indicates that a voice mail message has been received.

That is what I like: Technological ways to avoid undesired intimacies.

More ways to avoid intimacy might make people more willing to engage in it in the first place. If you can back out of a relationship more easily it is less risky to start one in the first place. Perhaps Ms. Gorman sees voice mails as a more humane way that text messaging to stop after a couple of dates. This option cuts the emotional cost of dating. With an easier exit ramp you are more likely to get on the highway in the first place.

“If it’s some jerk I went out on a couple of dates with, I can do without that drama,” she said.

“Text messaging someone ‘I would prefer not to see you again’ is really not my style,” she added. “But at the same time, I wanted to avoid an awkward conversation.”

I think the bigger problem with phone conversations is that they can be hard to end even with people you know you will speak with again. You might feel assorted obligations to the other person and don't want to signal that you are uninterested in hearing yet more of what they have to say. I didn't get a cell phone until last year for just this reason.

BTW, the New York Times picture of Ms. Gorman doesn't look as good as this Facebook picture which seems like it is her.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2008 August 02 10:45 PM  Comm Tech Society

Brian said at August 3, 2008 12:36 PM:

I use "Slydial", as you call it, all the time at work and dont see anything "Sly" about it. I think its a great way to pass information to someone without interrupting what theyre doing. Just the same as sending an email or text to someone, except its easier because you dont have to type anything.

Here in Ireland, you can go direct to a persons voicemail and leave a message, without their phone ringing, by dialing a 5 in front of their number.

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