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 pressed the OFF button.

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. When I ask (assuming there’s someone on the line and it isn’t a recording) how they got my number, they tell me it’s from a form I filled out “online.”

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 cell phone. I just don’t advertise it. I get enough scammers and spammers on my so-called land line. I don’t need to give the more of the world another way to get 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, hacking, Humor, manners & civility, Marilyn Armstrong, Technology, Telephone

Tags: , , , , , ,

14 replies

  1. It’s been heavenly.
    We changed our number and phone provider and since then no phone calls. No spam, surveys, zilch, nada, nil.

    Not even our dysfunctional family know our number.

    Know what, it’s BEEN GREAT because their frustrations, lies, and stressful stuff is no longer reaching us.

    So, all we have is email or via the mobile.
    Both of which have number block for scams and spam.

    It’s about the only thing I like about technology.
    You can pick who you want to converse too.


  2. This post gives a good sense of how spammers and scammers mess with people. And your way of handling it is excellent. I began not answering unknown callers somewhere around year 2000 (give or take). And if I mistakenly picked up, I would just hang up. Who cares what they think; I don’t even owe them courtesy.


    • I let all the calls on that phone go to the answering machine. If it’s a real call, from a person, I can call them back. I don’t know why it took me so long to figure it out.


      • A turning point, for me, was once when a person called asking for donations to a charity (supposedly). There was no contract or signing over my first born in a will. I said, okay (and meant it). But the person called back the next week like a debt collector and said I was behind on my payment (as if there had been any deadline or understanding). Well, that was the end of that.


        • I got a call from someplace who said she was collecting money to dispense to people who have breast cancer. I offered to give her my address so she could send ME a check since I had it in both breasts at that time. Funny how fast she hung up.

          Telephone solicitation ARE scams. Pretty much all of them.


  3. I’ve started getting a lot of scam text messages recently. I don’t give my mobile number out if I can avoid it but these days many forms and even shopping sites require it and you can’t continue unless you provide a phone number. Sometimes they insist it be a mobile number.
    I block the numbers of course but there always seem to be more. We don’t get as many spam calls on the VoIP landline as I used to in Geeveston. Maybe the spammers think landlines are a waste of time too.


    • I find I don’t have a real choice either. Everyone wants to send a code and they will only send it to a cell. I tried using the other phone, but then they try to text me on the cable phone. I no longer even ANSWER the “landline.” I let it ring and if anyone really leaves a message, I might respond. But sometimes, it’s useful to have an extra telephone line and it’s cheap, I might as well keep it. This way most of the calls seem to go to that useless phone rather than the cell.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We try and have most calls go to the landline. That way we can choose if/when we will respond. Neither of us carry mobile phones around with us when we are at home anyway.


        • Every few days I check the calls on the “landline.” Once, there was a message, but it was someone running a political survey. Otherwise, there’s never anyone on the line. ALL scams and spams.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t have a phone, any phone, a cell but it doesn’t have a card. I use it to play a game once in a while or contact family. You can still do that without having to pay yay! I miss the days when phone calls connected one with a real person, in my case a friend. These days, it’s all text. Yeah times have changed, maybe not always for the best. A friendly voice can do a lot to uplift a day going south.


    • Cable phones are very cheap — ours cost less than $10/month. It’s not good for much, but it lets me make calls, though I use the cell for important calls because it has a much better signal. We live in the boonies. If we didn’t have a phone, we’d be completely out of touch. Phones aren’t any fun at all.


  5. We don’t have a landline anymore. We just have cellphones. Mine still has a 508 area code from the days I used to live in Massachusetts, more than a decade ago. Recently, I’ve been getting a bunch of calls from area code 508 and exchange 720. I don’t answer them. They go right to voicemail, which records about a minute of silence. The last four digits of each call are different. I’ve been blocking the caller for each number, but given that the last four digits are always different I’m still getting four or five such calls a day. It’s not a major issue as much as it is an annoyance.


    • Our landline — which is really a VOIP line — is very cheap and once in a while, it’s useful to have two phones.

      I don’t answer it. Trying to block them, as you said, is pointless. They have automated programs that randomly create numbers, sometimes getting numbers you’ve used from somewhere. I let everything go to the answering machine and in the rare event that the call is actually a phone call, I can return it. I try to not give out the cell number unless it’s something medical or a real friend. I’m not sure how it does it, but the iPhone seems to have a way of blocking fake calls. It doesn’t do it every time, but it does it maybe 75% of the time, so I get very few phony calls on it.

      We will never get the pleasure of just chatting with friends again. I think the scammers and spammers have ruined it. No matter what software we invent, the hackers are faster and more dedicated to messing with us than we are with blocking them.

      It has become just an annoyance only because we’ve given up answering calls. That’ a pity. It used to be fun talking with friends without planning in advance.

      Liked by 1 person

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