I’ve had yet another set of friends indicate they will be “dropping their land line.” Their reason? Well, it just makes financial sense, they claim. Why pay for a dedicated home phone? They can get all the features they need and then some as part of their cell plan. (After all, a mobile phone is pretty much a necessity these days. So it’s the immobile phone that’s really optional, apparently). The financials aside, mobility is indeed a huge motivating factor as well. They’re rarely at home, so my chances of catching them are slim. With a cell phone, I can probably always reach them, right?
Now clearly, they’re in the majority these days, with cell coverage, features, and pricing making the dedicated home phone more of a novelty. But I’ve noticed a strange irony amongst all my friends who now have only cell phones: I can never get a hold of them. I used to call their land land, and if they were home, they’d answer. If not home, I’d leave a message, and they’d call me back. But now, I almost never talk to them. I call, and the phone just rings… or goes to voicemail immediately.
I make excuses for them. They’re driving through a school zone. They’re out for a kid-free romantic dinner. Or at a doctor’s appointment. Yeah, that’s it. Who would want to be interrupted during their appointment with the proctologist or OB/GYN?
But the truth is, after time after time of this, I’m beginning to wonder if the mobile-only movement is more annoying than convenient. Why aren’t they answering this time? Is it just me? Or is it that the nature of having mobile-only contact means that they’re always receiving calls while they’re in the middle of being out and about — already busy, with the constantly unexpected ringing phone conflicting with already present pressures of space and time in public? Is it possible that having a mobile phone actually makes it less convenient for the receiver of the call and simply more convenient for the caller? Is it really a selfish, one-sided convenience which inevitably breeds the use (and perhaps even necessity) of “silence” features and voicemail?
I’m not going to let this post devolve into a rant against the break down of the social structure due to modern technological developments, but I am growing convinced that “I’m dropping my land line” means “you’ll likely never talk to me ever again without my voicemail screening you first.”