How We Talk

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Written By Pinang Driod

This is an edition of The Wonder Reader, a newsletter in which our editors recommend a set of stories to spark your curiosity and fill you with delight. Sign up here to get it every Saturday morning.

Gathering with family can be a chance to observe up close how multiple generations live their lives. One fascinating instance I’ve been thinking about lately: the way people interact with their phones. Home for the holidays, one might’ve encountered the avid texters, the old-fashioned phone talkers (those can exist across generations), the group-chat fiends, the brave (or perhaps annoying) voice-note senders.

Each person’s relationship with their phone is different, of course—a murky combination of age, preference, and environment, among other things. Today’s newsletter rounds up some of our writers’ analysis on ever-evolving modes of phone communication, from those that grate on us to those that connect us.

On Talking

Maybe Don’t Send That Voice Note

By Jacob Sweet

The audio messages can encourage selfishness—unless you use them gracefully.

Talk to People on the Telephone

By Amanda Mull

It’s time to start calling your friends again.

Group-Chat Culture Is Out of Control

By Faith Hill

The most social social media these days is … texting. And it’s gotten overwhelming.

Still Curious?

  • How it became normal to ignore texts and emails: Digital messages mimic the speed of real conversation, but oftentimes, what people like best is the ability to put them off. (From 2018)
  • “I sent all my text messages in calligraphy for a week”: “Before I started, I established rules for myself: I could create only handwritten text messages for seven days, absolutely no using my phone’s keyboard,” Cristina Vanko wrote in 2014.

Other Diversions

  • How to worry less and be happier
  • The most mysterious cells in our body don’t belong to us.
  • The most fun way to learn a language


My colleague Charlie Warzel wrote this week about the unexpected role his iPhone played after the loss of his dog, Peggy. His lovely essay opens the door to another mode of relating with our phones: using them to help us grieve.

— Isabel


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