By Rory J. Thompson
I’ve recently gotten into VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) as a pretty cool alternative to your basic copper landline, although I’m not quite ready to take the plunge myself. I am an admittedly late-to-the-party kind of guy when it comes to today’s technology, although I end up there eventually. I just like to watch everyone else jump in and flail about, and then make my move when things have been perfected.
It’s probably why I still have a landline in my house (AND a fax machine in the closet that we still plug in and use occasionally. Shhh…), and am loathe to give it all up. When everyone’s cell phones and Internet went down in the Northeast last fall in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the first technology we got back online was the house phone. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But I’ve also noticed that a lot of the language that first started with telephones is still with us, and people just say things without thinking them through.
Do you watch “American Idol” on Fox TV? On judging nights, when they “open up the phone lines” for people to cast their votes (are there even ‘lines’ any more?) doesn’t host Ryan Seacrest say “Remember, it’s an ‘866’, not an ‘800’ number, so DIAL CAREFULLY”? Who has a rotary dial phone in their house any more?
Yet even that caveat can blow up in your face. One Idol fan got so caught up in “dialing” for her favorite singer that Comcast threatened to cancel her service for what it deemed actions “inconsistent with a residential number.” Fan Ilene Henry, 72, figured out how to game the system by consistently hitting redial, much to Comcast’s ire. (The company has since backed down from its threat.)
Does anyone reading this even remember the phrase, “Wait for the dial tone”? Today’s younger users have no idea what you’re talking about when you mention that, although automated systems will still ask you to “Wait for the tone” when leaving a message. And speaking of things gone by the wayside, does a “busy signal” even exist anymore.
Beating this dead horse further, with all the great telephone technology we have today, WHY does every company’s recorded answering message begin with, “Please listen carefully, as our menu options have recently changed.” No, they haven’t, and your pants are probably on fire. Liar.
I know I may sound like a throwback, but I sometimes miss the simpler times when the phone would ring, and you’d have NO IDEA who it might be. You actually had to answer it and take your chances; It could be your friends, inviting you over to an impromptu party. Or it could be your mom, wondering why you don’t call anymore.
Those were the days, my friend; we thought they’d NEVER end…