Can't sit down the chair will eat me
June 23, 2004 6:23 PM   Subscribe

Why do I usually feel inclined to pace around when talking on the phone? Even if I make a call while sitting comfortably, I end up walking all over the place when I'm using a phone.
posted by Nikolai to Grab Bag (18 answers total)
I don't know, but I do it too.
posted by Utilitaritron at 6:45 PM on June 23, 2004

me too. all the time.
posted by lotsofno at 7:00 PM on June 23, 2004

Yeah, it's very common. A lot of people doodle on the little paper pad that's often near phones or fidget in other ways. One person I know keeps a deck of cards by the phone to play solitair during longer phone conversations.

Perhaps it's because, even compared to a real-life conversation, there's a lot less to do. No body language necessary etc. Yet you're higher brain functions are busy with the conversation, so your mind can't drift (usually). This means you fill up with stuff you can do automaticly.
posted by fvw at 7:01 PM on June 23, 2004

I do this as well, but I notice that I am most compelled to do it when I am on the phone for some important reason (talking to a company, parents, job).

Alas, I don't know why either.

P.S. - I tend to walk in a pattern according to the floor tiles. Anyone else?
posted by untuckedshirts at 7:02 PM on June 23, 2004

I don't know either, but I also do this. If I am trapped at my desk on the phone (because of the cord), I tend to want to start doing something else apart from talking, so have always assumed that I subconsciously resent spending time on the phone and feel guilty wasting the time, so am compelled to be active in some other way at the same time.
posted by dg at 7:04 PM on June 23, 2004

Motion creates emotion.
posted by tomorama at 7:04 PM on June 23, 2004

and lots of people think better when they're in motion--maybe it gets the blood going?
posted by amberglow at 7:14 PM on June 23, 2004

Me too, and the floor tiles too. I sometimes try to read MeFi while on the phone, but that generally ends badly.
posted by gleuschk at 7:33 PM on June 23, 2004

I do it because talking on the phone makes me nervous, and I think it's for the reason that fvw mentioned: because I can't express myself bodily; so I do things like walking around to expend that frustrated energy.
posted by bitpart at 8:48 PM on June 23, 2004

I do that - especially if I'm nervous. It always drove my mother nuts. I used to smoke while on the phone too. I guess I need to be active while talking if I can't see the other person, and I can't read or eat and talk at the same time, so my jitters work themselves out physically.
posted by Melinika at 9:35 PM on June 23, 2004

I do it too. No idea why. Interesting question!
posted by carter at 10:16 PM on June 23, 2004

Same here, although almost unconsciously. I won't realize how much I've been walking around while on the phone until I'm in another room.
posted by shinynewnick at 11:54 PM on June 23, 2004

Does anyone NOT walk around? At all. Is there anyone who sits still with no fidgeting?
posted by Dagobert at 12:14 AM on June 24, 2004

Yup, I never start walking when on the phone. I generally mess around with the computer (if I'm behind it) or look at clouds or traffic out of the window though.
posted by fvw at 12:51 AM on June 24, 2004

My not-scientifically-valid answer:* I tend to think of it as a left-brain/right-brain issue, attributable to my need to keep the parts of my brain that aren't working hard occupied. So if I'm on the phone, which doesn't involve much in the way of motor skills, I need to do something with the motion-related part of my brain. I guess this is kinda what fvw said?

I also assumed that this was why I needed to play Tetris while thinking out essays.

*I make absolutely no claim as to the validity of this theory. It is based mostly on things I learned in high school.
posted by sueinnyc at 12:54 AM on June 24, 2004

If I start a phone conversation standing up then I'll wander all over the place but if I start seated that is where I stay.

I've known a few sales people who like to pitch standing even used to get on the desk when trying to close a particularly tough/juicy deal.
posted by i_cola at 3:08 AM on June 24, 2004

I'm not a psychologist, however...

People tend to learn (i.e. glean information) using one of three different methods. There are:
  • Audio Learners
  • Visual Learners
  • Haptic Learners
Audio learners retain information best when presented aurally (orally?) *or* if there is something that stimulates them aurally while they are learning. Examples include listening to a lecture or listening to music whilst studying.

Visual learners retain information when presented visually through means like video, diagrams, maps, strippers *cough*, etc.

Haptic learners retain information best when they are moving. This includes walking around, tapping pencils, bouncing a ball off the wall, or my favourite: the yo-yo!
posted by Hankins at 6:17 AM on June 24, 2004

I don't walk around. I'm on the phone so rarely now [for actual talking, not "what time does the move start?" phone calls] that when I do make a phone call I go lie down, or sit down and just talk to the person. My Dad also does this. My Mom, on the other hand, is always doing a few things at once when I speak to her -- warming up her coffee, taking out the trash, folding laundry. I find this really distracting, both for me, and for her, and can almost not talk to her when she does this. Phone conversations are one of the few parts of my day [along with taking showers, and driving to work -- which is when I do a lot of my best thinking, incidentally] when I'm not multitasking, and I sort of like it that way.
posted by jessamyn at 8:18 AM on June 24, 2004

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