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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | Death of the Telephone

Death of the Telephone

Well, maybe not death. But some kind of transformation. Most everybody carries a telephone on their person these days. But how often do you use it to talk to somebody with your voice?

I picked up a link to this interesting New York Times article (on Facebook, naturally): Don’t Call Me; I Won’t Call You. It suggests that Alex G. Bell’s invention is slowly going the way of the dinosaur as people trend toward text messages and emails as the primary means of communication – in their social and business lives – resorting to the telephone only by appointment or when they have no other choice.

(That’s a picture of Bell above, by the way, using his “hand-held phone” – LOL!)

I was particularly amused by the comments of Miss Manners: “Phone calls are rude. Instrusive. Awkward. Thank you for noticing something that millions of people have failed to notice since the invention of the telephone until just now. I’ve been hammering away at this for decades. The telephone has a very rude propensity to interrupt people.”

Honestly, I always thought that! I’ve always been hesitant about making phone calls, afraid to annoy and interrupt people. I try to avoid what I suspect might be their dinner hour – or their lunch time – or before they get up on a Saturday. A scheduled phone call is one thing – confirmed by text or email: I’ll call you tonight around 8pm, okay? But, just out of the blue?

Nowadays, I don’t make many calls. I might have to talk to my daughters’ friends’ mothers, to confirm that the play date they made by text is actually a go. I have to call to make doctor’s appointments (And isn’t that annoying? Why can’t that be arranged by email?) I call my mother (because she won’t email) and my sister (if she won’t answer emails) and my husband (when he can’t be reached by email).

How about you? Do you phone anybody anymore?

13 Responses to Death of the Telephone

  1. Sarah says:

    This is a great post! I only call my family, who live several states away. But in general, I do avoid the phone. The only other time I call people is for work, to schedule an appointment. But those people are waiting to hear from me, so I don’t feel bad. I often feel resentful these days if I can’t order or manage things entirely online. It’s amazing how quickly things change!

  2. I have caller id, so I usually don’t answer my phone (yup, I screen, even when it’s my mom calling – heck, ESPECIALLY when its my mom calling) and I have a cell phone, but I don’t use it… so I guess I wouldn’t really miss the phone too much. I use email, social networking sites and skype to keep in touch.

    Great post, D!

  3. We don’t have a landline phone. Haven’t had one in years. Why pay for something that never gets used? We are a cellphone family, but mostly use them for texting.

    Interesting post!

  4. I know a lot of people who hate to use the phone, me included. Most of my friends have kids, and we know how difficult it is to talk on the phone when you have kids. Mine are guaranteed to only need me when I’m on the phone. And never when it’s an annoying sales person.

    Like Sarah, I only use the phone to book appointments.

  5. Katie Mills says:

    I remember a time when I would sit on the phone for HOURS with my friends from school. Now I usually talk to my husband quickly once a day in a ‘pick up this or that from the grocery store’ type of way. I talk to my parents on the phone once every two weeks or so. I mean, I know how everyone is doing via facebook, so what the point? That said, I do try to call my best friend once in a while. She LOVES the phone and probaly always will.

  6. Linda G. says:

    I call my elderly mother everyday. That’s about it. She’s not much into social media or texting. 😉

  7. mshatch says:

    ha! too funny; phone calls ARE annoying. I like texting better, or email. I do, however, still have my landline because the sound is usually – but not always – better.

  8. Orlando says:

    Texting is how my wife and I communicate all day. Facebook is the media of choice for some of my friends. When I was a kid cell phone didn’t exist-sorry didn’t mean to date myself-and we got by just fine. I lived through the boom box age, eight tracks, cassettes, MP3’s, CD’s, you tube, USB’s, and now they have the music in phones. It’s not just for talking anymore.

  9. This comic best describes my opinion about the technological regression that is texting:


  10. Lenny Lee* says:

    hi miss dianne! i like that picture of that old phone. for me i like talking on the phone cause i wanna hear a voice and mostly i like hearing someone laughing. on email or text all you got for that is lol or ha ha. but hearing it for real is just way cool and gets me smiling.
    …hugs from lenny

  11. Becca says:

    I actually don’t like talking on the phone. I always find it awkward, and difficult, because when I can’t see the person talking, I can’t figure out what they’re saying.

  12. Only one or two friends (and that by arrangment in advance except in the case of emergency- not just on the fly) and doctor’s offices when absolutely necessary. That’s it.

    But I’m so behind the times, I still do it on my land line…my cell is only for emergencies.


  13. Stephanie says:

    When we moved three years ago, we decided to nix the land line…no one called us and since I had dissolved my home-based business…I just couldn’t see paying $50 a month for a home phone. We just do cellphones and sad to say…I rarely do call anyone for anything. If there is an invite with an option to email my rsvp…I do. If I need to contact anyone for anything, it’s email, text, or Fb message. Except my parents…..I don’t think they’ll ever give up their land line. As it is now, they only do bare minimum on a prepay cell phone.

    I had to laugh at Miss manner’s comment!!! I know some people think email and Fb are so impersonal and phone calls are better. But I can send an email at MY convenience and the receiver can read and respond at THEIR convenience.