(Yes, if it’s mine you want, you can have ’em: right here )
A beleaguered pal recently sent a heads-up round our social network asking the rest of us to please not give out actual contact details to anyone who asked and my initial thoughts, after the obvious sympathy/solidarity, were along the lines of: do people still do that? Really?
One of the features (whether you consider it positive or negative) of the internet age is the ease with which you can now generally put yourself in touch with a specific other person, particularly one with whom you are specifically, if casually, acquainted. If you want to hire someone, or seek some sort of employment with them, buy or sell something to/from that individual you were discussing it with at the club last week or even just let someone know, cautiously and respectfully, that you think they are really rather nice and you would like to spend more time with them then you can usually find them on some or other social media. Because the thing with internet communication is that it’s generally a little less intrusive than a phone call unless that person has a dedicated professional number which they are willing to share.
Of course, for the more mature fiction writer, this has kippered a lot of plot devices if you are writing contemporary stuff – the amount of story twists I used to come up with that featured desperate quests to track down a particular street, retrieve the number you had scribbled on a bit of paper and subsequently washed, or the chaos that could only be averted by finding the right change to insert in a phone box…
It’s generally poor form to be pushy about getting someone else’s contact details and it probably always was. It’s even more dubious to ask for personal contact info when you have been given the person’s professional or public-facing details, though. I’m sure, back in the pre-social-media era, the correct response on being asked for someone else’s phone number was ‘Give me yours and I’ll pass it on’. That’s probably still the best way to deal with any such request.