Technology advancement

We got ruder with every technological advancement

The evolution of communication technologies is one of life’s endless annoyances, and now we have a new commotion: voicemail. Voicemail allows smartphone owners to record their voice and send the recording to others just as they would a text message or a conversation.

According to the Wall Street Journal, some people consider the technique awkward and rude — a camp I’m clearly in, and I’ll gladly explain why.

I have experienced many changes in telephone technology in my life.

When I was a kid in the 70s and the phone rang, it was always a surprise and we would rush to find out who was calling our house. As hard for some to imagine, we had no caller ID. We also had no call waiting – if you were on the line and someone called you, that person would be greeted with a busy signal.

Worse still, if you need a ride home after football practice, good luck dropping by my house. My five sisters and my mother occupied our only telephone line throughout the day. I spent half my high school years redialing a payphone. The truth is that we actually wanted to answer the phone at the time to find out who was calling.

Nothing was more disappointing than arriving too late to a phone that rings and the mystery caller hangs up. This began to change in the 1970s when answering machines became affordable and many people began to use them to screen their calls – behavior considered rude by many.

Here’s what was even grosser: For some reason, some people refuse to leave messages on answering machines. Coming home to hear a hang-up click on the answering machine was terribly restless.

Until the invention of “*69”. Hitting those three keys in the phone would provide the number of the rotten dirty person who had the audacity to call your house and not leave a message. This gave us the ability to call the rude person back, wait for their answering machine to ring, then hang up!

And so technology-enabled grossness began to proliferate.

Now, when our smartphones ring, we look to see who the rude person is calling and think, before letting it go to voicemail, “Why can’t the idiot text me like a normal person ?”

Which brings us to voicemail.

As a very impatient person, I’m far too busy to listen to other humans use spoken words to convey human thoughts to me. The shifting inflections and tones they use to illustrate their point may seem more human and nuanced to them, but they only make me grumpier.

Look, I’m a master procrastinator who wastes time all day – but I don’t like it when other people waste my time on me by sending me voice chats that I have to spend precious seconds listening to. For the love of God, write or text me and give me words to read.

I’ll email or text you some nice words for you to read, and then we can both go our merry way promoting the rudeness, bad temper, and incivility that we’ve allowed our technology to do an unfortunate reality in modern life.

I leave you with this warning:

Keep sending me voicemails, and I swear I’ll buy a cheap cell phone that doesn’t trace back to me, and call your home phone – then hang up on your answering machine!

Copyright 2022 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Newspaper Syndicate. Purcell is a humor columnist. Email him at [email protected]