February 9, 2010

A Telephonic Conversation

Without answering, I handed the telephone to the applicant, and sat down. Then followed that queerest of all the queer things in this world,—a conversation with only one end to it. You hear questions asked; you don’t hear the answer. You hear invitations given; you hear no thanks in return. You have listening pauses of dead silence, followed by apparently irrelevant and unjustifiable exclamations of glad surprise, or sorrow, or dismay. You can’t make head or tail of the talk, because you never hear anything that the person at the other end of the wire says.

Mark Twain, writing an article for the June, 1880 issue of The Atlantic on the oddity of telephone conversations. Still relevant in our age of disjointed retweets, wall posts, and other overheard messages.

(Via Discover)