—- Haruki Murakami
Julia Cho wrote an article in The Atlantic that resonated with me throughout the day. The topic, "How the Loss of the Landline Is Changing Family Life" is, in fact, one that my sister, Judy, and I talk about often. When we moved into our new community, we realized that most of the homes were without landlines. Everyone depends on their cell phones to stay connected and believe us strange for having both landlines and cell phones.
In today’s world it is difficult to get people to respect your wishes to be contacted on a landline. Doctors’ offices ask for both numbers, but no matter how many times I request they use my landline, it is the cell phone that interrupts me in a restaurant to deliver test results or remind me of an upcoming appointment. Last year I anxiously awaited test results for three days until I noticed the doctor had left them in a message on my cell. Since I often miss calls (I am not always tethered to my phone) and equally often forget to check my cellphone messages, it started to become a problem. Eventually I choose to not set up voicemail on my latest iPhone. This way people know that I didn’t get a message and call back.
I am not a Luddite. I have a computer, an iPad and an iPhone, and I am constantly amazed at the information that is at my fingertips. Sometimes though, I need a break. I want to go out for a “date” with Arthur without being interrupted by a friend who wants to chat or a solicitor who has an “amazing deal” just for me. I despise robocalls and don’t want them to disturb my time with the kids. I want friends and strangers to be able to leave a non-emergency message on my landline answering machine when I am away, and feel awkward disturbing others when they might be out. This has lead me to become somewhat telephone-phobic with friends who use their cellphones exclusively. I am so afraid that I am interrupting something that I have started communicating via text most of the time. How sad is that?
It is truly sad that we are slowly losing many forms of personal connections. Hearing someone’s words and inflections bring us closer to them. Hearing my daughter laugh is so much better than reading lol on my screen. Feeling my heart race a little when I hear Arthur’s voice on the other end of the line reminds me how much I love him. Hearing the smile in my son’s voice helps me know he is okay even though he is over 1200 miles away. Text messages take the emotion out of the connection. Anyone could by typing those words, and that will never take the place of “love ya, mom” in my ears and heart.
The family landline helped me keep a connection with my children’s friends when they were younger. When I answered the phone and it was one of Mike’s friends, I would ask how they were doing and we would chat for a minute or two before I called my son to the phone. I would get the opportunity to chat with Art’s friends and he would joke around With mine. There were connections. Now people call the person they want directly. No chance to get to know anyone else’s friends. I worry that it is too isolating to build a strong family structure.
Cellphones have become too important. We rely too much on constant long range communication, and it is getting in the way of family time. Recently, I watched a family sitting in a nice restaurant with their son who looked to be about four years old. He was eating while dad was doing something on his phone and mom was speaking on hers. I flashed back on our family restaurant adventures, and remembered the great conversations we shared. I love my iPhone, but it could never replace those memories. Hopefully, those parents will realize what they are missing and put away their phones before their son gets old enough to pull out his and shut them out without a second thought.
This week I used my iPad to read/review Trace of Evil, a novel by Alice Blanchard. It is an interesting mystery written by an author I never read before and will try again.
As always a complete review of this book follows my blog.