SDXB called the other day to say he’s going to get rid of his land line. Figures it’s going to save him a ton of money. Not only is he going to ditch the land line, he’s also going to kill his Cox high-speed Internet connection, effectively taking his computer offline. His plan is to haul his laptop to the library whenever he wants to read his e-mail. Won’t that be fun?
He’s not alone on the land line issue. The other day Echo, over at Boomer and Echo, reflected on the joy of land-line freedom, listing three good reasons to get rid of the thing.
Me, I’m not so sure. If you don’t already have a cell phone, which I don’t because I can’t afford it and I don’t deeply want one, several reasons argue strongly in favor of keeping the land line. Even if you do have cell service, there’s no reason to rush to judgment. Consider…
Around here, cell phone service runs about $60 a month—that’s before you buy the gadget, which can cost several hundred dollars. Get yourself into a cell phone plan, and you may not be able to get out, even if the service stinks. Experience suggests that most service from most communication providers stinks. I would, for example, never go near Qwest again, and all you have to do is enter terms like “Verizon,” “Comcast,” or “At&T” into the Consumerist search bar to be given permanent pause about cell phone providers in general.
Cox’s land line costs all of $29, half of what SDXB pays for a cell phone connection that does not keep him in touch if he goes hiking very far into the sticks, exactly when you would have the most need for such a connection. So, while yes, he will save money by canceling the land line, he pays twice as much for the privilege.
Own a cell phone, and you have a cell phone: that’s one, count it, (1). When it jangles or vibrates at you, you have to find it. That may be easy enough if you’re a guy, because you probably tote the thing around in a pocket everywhere you go. But most women’s clothes don’t have pockets. So that means the cell gets put down…wherever you happened to put it down, or wherever you happen to have last dropped your purse.
So, every time the thing goes off, what are you gonna do? Run all over the freaking house trying to find it, that’s what.
Last time I bought a land-line phone—it was very cheap, by the way—it came with not one, not two, not three, but five extensions. I’ve got a phone in every room, and every one of them has its own squawk box. If I set one down and can’t find it quickly when someone jangles me up, all I have to do is walk into the next room to pick up another unit. My phone is never lost!
I don’t happen to think having to carry an electronic tether everywhere you go is especially convenient. Nor is it convenient to have to remember to turn it off whenever you go into a restaurant, a theater, a church, or choir practice. At choir, we pay a $5 fine every time our cell phone goes off. One of our members underwrites cake and cookies for 50 people with her repeating fines.
Speaking of having to carry an electronic tether around, that’s exactly what a cell phone is. If you’re hauling that thing everyplace you go, you really have no excuse not to answer it.
What happened to privacy? What, hevvin help us, ever happened to alone time? Who needs to yak on the phone while driving, while walking around the grocery store, while sitting at a restaurant, while strolling down the street, while hiking in the desert? About 99.9999 percent of phone calls can wait until you get home or to the office.
When people can bombard you with phone calls everyplace you go and demand your attention right now, you’re never free. Your time is never your own. Even turning the thing off doesn’t really free you. You’re expected to check in regularly, or let the phone nag you by vibrating at you. If you don’t, you feel guilty and antsy until you do so and then get back to callers, often not at your convenience but right this minute.
I appreciate hearing from my friends and business associates, but I feel no need for that degree of connectivity. Or for that degree of immediacy. Except for the occasional car wreck, nothing really needs to be dealt with instantaneously. When I’m out and about, I’d rather have the peace and quiet, thank you, to focus on what I’m doing and who I’m with. When I get to a landing spot, that’s when I’ll deal with callers’ issues.
As for freedom from nuisance phone calls, I rarely get telephone solicitations anymore. The National Do-Not-Call List proved to be surprisingly effective. For those rogue solicitors and off-shore pests who scoff at the law, a handy device called the TeleZapper disconnects almost all of them. Phone solicitation stopped being a problem for me several years ago.
The cell phone is one of those gadgets that brings to mind my mother’s favorite old chestnut: Just because the some of the sheep jump off the cliff doesn’t mean we all have to. IMHO, the very fact that everyone else is doing something is a good reason not to do it. Especially if it costs you money.
Does anyone ever consider how silly a person looks, walking down the street yapping on the phone and not paying the slightest bit of attention to anything around her? How annoying her blatting voice is as she shares her private business with ten or fifteen people who don’t. want. to. know? How insulting it is to interrupt a face-to-face conversation to pull a phone out of your pocket and answer an inconsequential call? Or how spectacularly dangerous and stupid it is to drive with one hand on the steering wheel and the other punching numbers into a cell phone?
Now, I’ll admit I’d love to have one of those swell smartphones, which really are less telephones and more extremely portable computers. But that’s not going to happen, because I can’t afford it. Failing that, I don’t see any good reason to tie an electronic tether around my neck.
A land line lets you stay in touch, without making you look like a fool or putting you at risk. By and large, it keeps you in control of who you’re going to speak with and when. I wouldn’t get rid of it, even if I could afford a smartphone.