Posted: July 6, 2011 in Deep Thoughts

I started entering a name into the recipient field on my phone’s messenger app. It promptly started trying to guess who I wanted to message. Fair enough. I expected that. On the list of names that popped up were several people I couldn’t recall acquiring phone numbers for. Huh. I fired off my message, but it got me thinking.

When I first signed in to this phone, it rooted through the SIM card and saved the contacts to the phone’s internal memory. Then it went through my email contacts and saved those to the internal memory. Then it went through my Facebook friends list and saved all of that contact information to its memory. Neat, if a little freaky. My phone’s next trick was the real surprise. It compared notes on all of these sets of people and told me which ones matched and linked anyone’s information as it found matches. Wow.

So it is that my phone knows numbers for people I have never approached about the information. Suddenly I have a dilemma regarding etiquette. If there ever arose a need or a desire to call one of these people who don’t know that I have their phone number, is it creepy? I mean, I know I’m a little weird anyway, but I don’t want to make people uncomfortable. Or is the age of having to have the courage to ask for a girl’s number over? I still feel like some things should be done face-to-face, even in the Information Age. Don’t get me wrong; I love having any information I could ever want at my fingertips or in my head, but sometimes I think that it’s worth earning it.

UPDATE: I actually have all of my own information listed on my social sites with the intent that people can contact me when they see fit.  I don’t worry about being stalked, and I always have the option of simply not replying/answering.

  1. This, I would say, is a damn fine example of technology evolving quicker than society can keep up socially. This is a new social situation in human history, so the protocol really hasn’t been established. I suppose in instances like this, I’d go with the Golden Rule. If you would want people contacting you despite not having ever asked for your number, than go for it. I suppose in my case it would be on a call by call basis. If someone was calling me to hang out or notify me of something, cool. If someone’s calling me about something to do with work, may God have mercy on their soul.

    Excellent and thought provoking post.

  2. serquet says:

    I think if a person associates their phone number with their Facebook or email, it’s a tacit permission to use it without expressly asking. Even if that wasn’t the intention, most people would probably shrug it off without being offended. However, that is one of those funny nuances to the intersection of technology and society to contemplate.

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