Surprise Calls and Conversations - Word&Way

Surprise Calls and Conversations

phone number

Gloria, I think they got your number …  — Laura Branigan

People in the Midwest tweeted #PlayGloria when the St. Louis Blues won games this season on their way to winning their first-ever NHL Stanley Cup.

Ken Satterfield

Ken Satterfield

Who can resist seeing a phone number (and not those fake 555 numbers) and wondering, Is it real?

That’s true in music, like the 1981 Tommy Tutone song about Jenny. Decades later, many still call 867-5309 in the 216 area codes with that number.

It’s also true for movies, television, and video games. For example, two series that finished their television runs yet still have working numbers are “Person of Interest” (917-285-7362) and “Better Call Saul” (505-503-4455).

And it’s true in real life. Former first lady Michelle Obama once tweeted out a phone number for a digital producer in St. Louis. People called.

And candidate Donald Trump once shared Congressman Lindsey Graham’s number in response to criticism. Graham destroyed his phone. On YouTube.


Photo by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash

And then there is Robyn Kanner. She willingly gave out her number.

After observing how an Esquire cover piece about a white Midwestern teen caused a social media backlash, the Brooklyn writer and designer wrote an opinion column for The New York Times about our culture of shame. In response, she recounts in Wired, she was digitally shamed herself.

Her response? She tweeted her phone number with an invitation to call. And people did.

She recounts some of the diverse conversations in the Wired article ( Kanner observed, “Each conversation left me feeling more human, less shamed.”

Out of curiosity, I called the number myself (929-374-4003). After all, who can resist? She did not answer, but I did get her voice mail inviting me to leave my own number.

Her experience is a lesson in the power of treating people as individuals, rather than groups. I was tempted at this point to share my own email address, rather than a number, but Kanner states it is a call that allows you to experience the power and intimacy of “the cracks in a voice, the sound of breath, and the patience of thinking.”  (You can actually find them here.)

When people seem to look for an excuse to be divided, be a victim, or just be outraged, it is refreshing – and, admittedly, a little intimidating – to find someone that says, let’s talk. Jesus didn’t have social media, but I suspect even if he did, he would prefer actual one-on-one conversations.

Maybe we should as well.

Ken Satterfield is a former media specialist and current marketing coordinator for Word&Way.

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Ken Satterfield is a former media specialist and current marketing coordinator for Word&Way.