Telephone Gesture

M is a 19 year old college student. She shares a gesture that she learned from her mother in Colorado Springs when she was a toddler playing pretend.

“When you mention you’re calling someone, you put your pinky out as the receptor and the thumb as the transmitter to motion you’re calling someone. When playing with my mom I’d pretend to be calling someone and my mom would answer with her “phone” that was actually her hand.” 

This gesture is particularly interesting because it is rapidly fading out. Now, if you ask a toddler or a child to show you them making a phone call, they’ll put their whole hand flat to their ear, replicating a cell phone. The informant and I are nearly the last generation to learn the gesture of a telephone using our fingers. The gesture is terminus post quem the invention of the dial telephone, and terminus ante quem the generation raised with cell phones. This shows how rapidly folklore changes, and how easy it is to lose folklore. My generation will be the last ones to use the finger gesture, and eventually it will entirely die out when kids barely remember what old phones used to look like. As technology rapidly changes, folklore is changing at an even faster rate than ever before. We have no clue what folklore might look like for children in 20 years. It will be interesting to see what folklore says, and which is phased out.