Fandango’s Provocative Question #46

From Fandango:

“I was watching “Jimmy Kimmel Live” last week and he and his sidekick, Guillermo, paid a visit to the New Yorker magazine in an effort to get a cartoon published in the magazine. Neither was successful, but Jimmy came up with this cartoon, which serves as the inspiration for this week’s provocative question:
CDAE46BB-E23E-40BF-BDB9-14331575A5F4The cartoon shows a picture of a young man sitting in a jail cell with headphones on. He’s busy using his smartphone when the prison guard apparently advises the guy in the cell that he’s entitled to a phone call. The guy then asks the guard, “What’s a phone call?”

So here’s the question:

Question of the week #47

I grew up before mobile phones — or at least before mobile phones became popular and common. Garry and I were among the earliest users of cell phones. Garry was always out in the field and he really needed a phone. Even back then … the early 1990s … there weren’t many functioning payphones. Most of the booths had broken or entirely missing phones.

The first phone I bought for Garry was the size of a brick and weighed at least as much and possibly more. On the other hand, that phone could connect with anyone anywhere. It was very much like the big “field phones” the telephone technicians used.

One day, the Blackberry came out and for years that was our phone. Garry loved his Blackberry. It had good sound and he could actually hear when he used it … and he could read (and send) email. I had a phone too, which was good because I was always looking for a job and I needed to find a quiet corner to set up interviews. Sometimes the phone WAS the interview.

Texting hadn’t arrived yet and phones were not miniature computers. They were small, portable telephones that also had email and calendar. Which was what I needed.

And the granddaddy of them all:

The standard black dial telephone

But how do I feel about taking on the phone? There was a time when the phone rang and I knew it was a friend. Or someone who wanted to talk to a parent, a brother, a husband, even your child.  But now? The phone is nothing but a noisy, device large used to try to scam you out of money or steal your personal information. It’s rarely fun.

I have three or four people — close family and dear friends — to whom I enjoy talking. Otherwise, I’d rather use email. The joy of email for me is its wonderful silence. My cell is always dining and ringing and jingling and binging and bonging. It never stops updating so as soon as you think you know how it works, they decide it needs to be fixed. When it is actually broken and needs to be fixed? That’s a wholly different story and usually costs you money.

With the exception of good friends and family, I don’t want to use the phone. I have to beat myself up to actually make a phone call, even if it’s important. Email is great because I can ignore it until I feel like doing something about it. I never learned to text, probably because that would mean I’d have to leave my phone on and people would actually CALL me. I don’t want them to call me. I’m very happy to not have something ringing all the time.

The thing I don’t understand about mobile phones is that they never shut up. They are always making some kind of noise. It’s like being on an electronic leash: you are never out of touch. It’s why when people ask if I have a smartphone, I say “no.” I do have one. I just don’t use it any more than I have to … and I do NOT give out the phone number.

My favorite calls are from Indians or Pakistanis who say their names are “Bob” and they are calling from Texas. And they know a Nigerian prince. Moreover, if you give them all your personal information, you can inherit a fortune and never have to worry about money again.

My all-time favorite call was a woman who called to ask for money to be collected for women who’ve had breast cancer. The money, she averred, would be given directly to people who had cancer and needed help. I told her she could call me back when my check was ready.

Modern telephone technology has taken all the fun out of making phone calls just as “modern airplanes” have taken all the romance out of travel. From all of this, I have concluded that progress is good but not every change is going to improve your life.  The only thing I hope for is that people will get tired of living on their phones and start to consider the possibilities of conversations.

And sometimes, enjoy the amazing possibilities of quiet and even silence.

Categories: #FPQ, Marilyn Armstrong, Photography, Provocative Questions, Technology, Telephone

Tags: , , , ,

39 replies

    • I think the thing about cells I hate most is that you are never out of touch. You can always be reached, by text, email, or phone. One way or the other, you can’t retreat. Why would anyone really want to be ALWAYS available — day or night — to anyone who has their number? Garry hated when his TV station made it mandatory that they NEVER turn off their cell phones. Ever. Not to sleep, not to shower, not ever. It was like being chained to the station.

      Liked by 1 person

      • They can ring you – they can’t make you answer, and the phones have a ‘silent’ mode, i think?

        I find there are more and more things in ‘this’ world that i should and can (try to) ignore. 😉

        Things annoy me that i have no ‘right’ knowing about.


        • The older I get, the more things I find annoying. I used to be patient. I think that left around age 70. I’m going to be extremely grumpy in a few years more.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I can see myself going the same way ( hell – i’ve always seen more to be grumpy about than what there is to be happy about ( or is that just a perception?) )

            I’m asking a blogger to partner me in becoming more at Peace, more giving of Love and being more wise and seeing if i can do the same for him. 😉


  1. That’s absolutely perfect — and you know how much I love your cartoons!


  2. Ha! I demand royalties from Jimmy Kimmel for this obvious plagiarism!


  3. I especially love solicitation (robo) callers who fail to identify themselves, or who they represent, but instead jump right into asking for your personal info. Forget about the product they may be hawking, which I have to stop them in their verbal assault and ask for.


  4. Unless you need to make a medical or dental phone call, the phone is obsolete. I never use it. And the only phone calls I get these days are from scammers or people encouraging you to travel or stay in their hotel.


  5. My typical answer for the land line phone is – if I don’t recognize the voice ” what do you want, make it quick, I’m busy.” It’s usually when I’m making dinner.


  6. I have my iPhone with me at all times, but I have turned the “ringer” off and I have the volume for other sounds all the way down, so my iPhone never makes noises, rings, beeps, or anything else. I will see a banner pop up if I get a text or a phone call, but that’s it. iPhone always with me, but peace and quiet!


    • I am at home most of the time, so I have a cheapie VOIP landline and my “smartass” phone is in my bag and turned off. When I was working I used the cell all the time, but at home? Nah. I’ve got computers and email and I’m really not all that interested in talking to anyone. I think when you discover peace and quiet, it’s addictive.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I used to talk on the phone a lot! Then life took a turn and I had no one to talk to. The phone became a necessary object to call doctors schools etc. Then I worked as a receptionist. I had to answer every call. Then I needed headsets because talking on the phone hurts (neck) using the speaker causes distortion. And sillily I still find I tilt my head. 🤣 I text with friends. My son calls weekly on FaceTime so we can talk and I can watch the grandkids play! Now THAT is a wonderful invention. I remember at the future exhibit in worlds fair in 1964? That we would be able to see folks when we talked to them. But talking too long hurts my arms holding the phone in the needed position.
    Thanks for the memories.


    • I don’t remember when friends stopped calling, but it was about 10 years ago I think. So many friends had moved to warmer climates — or died — or were too sick to talk … and sometimes I was one of them. After all these years, now all you get are surveys and scammers and NO ONE wants to answer the phone anymore unless they see that it’s you — and even that may be a scam. There are a few people I talk to: my son, a couple of friends. But my granddaughter hates the phone and will only text (I don’t text) or email. I wonder if it will come around again — talking to other people.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think talking in the phone ended when I moved far enough that we had to pay extra for long distance calls. Now that that is not the case any more, we all got out of the habit.


        • I think it’s the telephone scammers. It must have been right at the beginning of the 2000s that suddenly it went from maybe one call a week to dozens a day. We put a muzzle on part of that, but the scammers are a lot smarter than the software. It has recently slowed down. Phone companies are doing their best, but those scammers groups are insane. They use thousands of phone and there are millions of called every minute, most of which I assume are ignored. Maybe eventually it won’t be profitable and they will try some other scamming method.

          Liked by 1 person

  8. I almost never talk to a friend or family member by phone. We text instead. If an actual voice call comes in, I know it’s either a doctor’s office calling to confirm an appointment, or a telemarketer trying to sell me something. In either case, I don’t answer. If it’s important (and “real”), the caller can leave a voicemail (yes, I still have that).

    I remember my first mobile phone – as you said, it was the size of a brick. Each subsequent phone got smaller until the tiny clamshell one (which I still have in a drawer somewhere). Then the phones started getting bigger to accommodate a larger screen for all those internet apps – and now they’re the size of a paperback book. I think those huge cell phones are silly looking. Personally, I prefer my little basic flip-phone.


    • I have lost all interest in telephones unless it’s a close friend or family. Almost everyone is either the doctor’s office or a scammer. Not much fun. But email is good. I do have long conversations online.

      Those tiny little phones were clearly made for pixies because no human had fingers that small.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. The stupid phones are always making noises. Half the time I don’t know why it’s beeping at me. I thought I’d turned off every kind of notification other than actual calls and it still beeps. I wasn’t really aware that people were not making actual calls though. I am always seeing people wandering around having animated conversations on their phones. I don’t know how they can concentrate to be honest. I find it very difficult to talk on the phone on the street or anywhere there is a lot of background noise.


    • People who DO talk on the phone always do it really LOUDLY. And in places like the middle of the city where in any case, I can’t hear anything. I always think they are trying to prove something to someone. I turned my phone OFF because of the jingling dingling buzzing bonging and myriad other noises. I don’t think you REALLY can turn it off completely, short of just plain turning it OFF. So mine is in my bag and it’s off. I use it if I need it and otherwise, it’s just there in case of emergency.

      NO ONE our age can hear anything with lots of background noise. It’s an age-related thing.


      • That’s pretty much what I do,just carry it if I am expecting a call or for emergencies. I’ve had to use it a lot of late so will be glad to go back to leaving it on top of the fridge when I am at home and don’t need it.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Agreed on so many levels, except there is one good thing about the end stage of the telephone era. No one I know ever calls me. They text. I’ve been married 7 years and spoken to my husband on the phone maybe twice in our married life. When the phone actually rings, I automatically know it’s a spam call by definition because none of my family and friends would be calling. So I never answer it. I just leave the phone function on silent all the time. I don’t even know what my phone’s ring tone sounds like. 😂


    • I leave it on so the doctor’s offices can confirm appointments and the pharmacy can remind me that I’m a week overdue to pick up that prescription. What prescription? If they at least told me what I’m supposed to be getting, that would help. My son calls. He says it’s easier than trying to talk with all the dogs barking. My best friend calls as often as twice a year. Otherwise, email. I didn’t learn to text because I didn’t feel like it. I never liked telephones even before they got smarter than me, but now I really hate them.


  11. Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Marilyn. I miss my BlackBerry. Best, Babsje

    Liked by 1 person

    • Blackberry was a GREAT phone. It did what it was supposed to and did it well. It didn’t seem to get the concept that phones weren’t phones anymore. I’m with them. And that’s why I don’t use my “smart” (it really isn’t very smart) phone.


      • Exactly so. Marilyn. They were the real workhorses of the mobile phone world. My last on ended up in the Davey Jones Locker area of Lake Cochituate, sadly. I considered hiring a scuba diver to retrieve it, but never did. Really enjoyed your post. Best, Babsje

        Liked by 1 person

        • I now have an Android smart phone AND a cheap flip phone. The $250+ Android is a real pita, what with the revolving door of app updates shoved out daily/weekly. The $79 flip phone is a dream: only 1 update in three months and the audio is far, far superior. Plus the flip got the time change right while the splash screen on the Android has the old EDT time at top left in biggish type and the correct DST in smaller font at top right. Sheesh.


    • Babs, I really LOVED my BlackBerry. “Since you left me, Baby, I’m a brand new man”. (Song just popped into my head) I think Ivy Joe Hunter did the cover.


      • Great song, Garry, it really works for this post! We can still get BlackBerry mobiles, made in Asia I think, but they’re just not the same animals, sadly just another smart phone now. Best, Babs


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