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Progress or not

By Staff | Jul 17, 2015

I have seen a lot of changes in my life from the beginning of television, evolution of computers, an affluence of lifestyle that many today take for granted, to name a few.

But I believe the biggest change I have seen is the telephone and how we regard it.

I grew up on a party line and when we wanted to place a call we had to ring the knob on the wooden box that hung on the wall and talk to Stella, who was later replaced by Lottie.

The wooden box was replaced by a black plastic phone, but we still had to crank the handle to get the operator’s attention.

I was in my first year of college when my parents got a dial phone and best of all, a private line.

It was true there was a personal touch missing in the new telephone that was both appreciated and criticized when our phone number was 4R7, a long and two shorts, but it was progress with more advantages than disadvantages.

That system worked for many years and what we use today is not that far removed what we had when it was installed 48 years ago.

There have been subtle changes with push buttons replacing the dial with holes in it and answering machines are common with fax machines here and now almost gone.

Cell phones are replacing what we call land line phones and it is getting tougher to find someone’s phone number if you do not have a direct connection with them.

Not only have telephones changed, our attitude toward the telephone has changed.

Cell phones, which are now smartphones for most people, are the first choice of making and taking calls.

The land line is a second choice, and while many people have given theirs up, we still have ours as a way to make local calls. For some of our family and friends it is the number they use to call us.

So when the land line telephone rings, the first thing we do is check the caller ID. Is this someone we know (that is, someone we want to talk to) or someone we do not know (and therefore, do not want to talk to)?

If it is someone we do not know or it says “private number,” we usually will let the answering machine pick up the phone.

If it is really important, they can leave a message. Then we listen to hear if they leave a message.

Sometimes, it is somebody we want to talk to and we interrupt the message to speak to them before they hang up.

Invariably, it seems that when we do answer a call from an unknown number or where the caller ID does not give a number, it is a computer-generated call or someone who wants to sell us something they believe we really need.

I do not buy anything over the phone so those sales calls are probably the most annoying calls of all, especially when I am talked to like a long friend by someone I have never met.

The next worst calls are from the university I graduated from asking me for money.

Yes, they really ask me for money when their annual budget exceeds what I will make in my lifetime.

I am respectful and refuse their request when I want to say, “If you need money, go get it from your football coach. For what he gets paid, I am sure he has some extra.”

So, telephone calls have gone from something that was treated with importance to now when the phone rings we ask ourselves, “Do I want to answer this or not?”

Is that progress or a step backward?

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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