REMEMBER WHEN PHONE CALLS WERE FUN? – Marilyn Armstrong

Rolling slowly out of bed, I tried to remember what I’d been dreaming about. Something about cats made of smoke and a clothesline that was part of a computer game. And a shrink who offered to scratch my back, but couldn’t find the right spot.

I took a couple of Tylenol, a muscle relaxant and rearranged the bed. I tucked myself in for a few more hours of sleep.


The phone rang.

I looked at the caller ID. It showed a local number. It was not a local call. Scamming technology shows local numbers on my Caller ID including my own number. I’m pretty sure I’m not calling myself. I answered the phone in what has become my typical surly morning greeting: “Who are you and what do you want?”

There was no response. A bit of crackle on the line, but no voice. Not even a recording. I hung up. More accurately, pressed the OFF key.

It has been a long time since I expected a ringing telephone to herald a call from a friend. I don’t even expect it to be a return call from someone with whom I do business. I expect all calls to be spam, scams, surveys, or sales pitches.

All the calls are recorded messages so I don’t even have the luxury of insulting the caller and his or her company. That used to be the only positive side of the endless from anonymous calls. Add to that the fear that somehow, they are going to find a way to steal you identification.

I’m also shocked when I call a friend and they actually answer the call. Personally. Although these days, everyone is home. It’s the upside of everyone isolating. These days, we are grateful for a call. It breaks up the quiet.

I have utterly abandoned good telephone manners. Telephones are not a way to communicate unless I’m making the call. Otherwise, it’s annoying and intrusive — another attempt to steal personal data so someone can hack our accounts, steal our identity, or scam us in some other way.

I can’t make them stop calling because they never call from the same number twice and the number that shows on the Caller ID is fake. There’s nothing to report. NOMOROBO dot com has considerably limited the volume of calls, but nothing eliminates them. Somehow, they get your number. When I ask how they got it — assuming there’s someone to ask — they tell me they got my telephone number from a form I filled out “online.” And all of them have an accent that is definitely not from anywhere in North America … so have I been filling out those Pakistani forms again?

I do not fill in forms online. Nor do I fill out anything which requires I include a phone number. I tell everyone I don’t have a mobile phone.

I actually do have a smartphone. I just don’t use it. Part of the reason I don’t use it is that we have really poor cell service here and getting a usable signal isn’t easy. The other reason is I get enough scammers and spammers on my landline. I don’t need to give the rest of the world another entree into my world.

As part of the day’s epiphanies, I realized how technology steals pieces of our lives. There’s nothing wrong with the technology. It is neither good nor bad; it is what it is. It’s what people do with it that’s can be life-stealing. Those People have ruined telephones for me, probably forever.

Unwanted telephone calls may seem a minor thing especially in view of the many awful things we are trying to survive, but I can remember waiting for the pleasant anticipation of the phone ringing and knowing I was going to hear from a friend. It wasn’t that long ago.

Or was it?



Categories: Communications, Humor, manners & civility, Marilyn Armstrong, Photography, Technology

Tags: , , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. The volume of my spam calls has gone down a lot since I moved and got a new phone number but I still get the odd one. If caller ID says private number I have to pick up because two or three people I know including Naomi have private numbers. Spammers often seem to use a mobile number these days which is annoying but generally if I don’t recognise the number I let it go to voicemail. I figure if it is important they will leave a message. If a friend calls, I will see their name.
    Mobile phone reception here is bad and I have been about a month without service as I changed providers only to find that the new provider’s service was no good in my neighbourhood and having to change again. It does annoy me that when I fill out a form for some businesses or service, supplying a mobile number is compulsory but supplying a landline number isn’t. I don’t like giving out my mobile number and it is a waste of time, especially now because as I am always at home I don’t use it. Mobile numbers have become some kind of de-facto security check. I can’t log in to the government website unless they send me a code by text. What’s wrong with email?

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