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Reblogged:Phone Ringer: The Bell Tolls for Thee

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Imagine if every person in the world had the ability, at their arbitrary whim, to anonymously activate your fire alarm inside your home. That is the reality of the telephone. There is nothing quite as rude as the telephone. -- Jim Fisher

Image by Robert Linder, via Unsplash, license.
I'm old enough to remember telephone etiquette changing with the advent of the answering machine. At first, lots of people thought it was rude to make people listen to a recorded message if you weren't around.

But within a year or so, most people were on board with the idea when the many advantages of being able to leave a message became more obvious. After that and prices coming down, if you didn't have an answering machine, you risked seeming rude or out of touch.

In that vein, some recent advice by Judith Martin caused me to realize that text messaging, in addition to obviating most voice messages and many kinds of short calls, might finally also banish the ringer -- that scourge of the information age -- to the dustbin of history, where it belongs.

The reader does not like texts amounting to Call me when you can for reasons that remind me of the pre-answering-machine era, despite the reliance on voice messages:
I think if a person wants to speak with me, they should call. If I am available, I will answer. If not, they can leave a message and I will call them back. The text method feels like they are putting the burden of initiating the call on me, when they are the ones who want to speak with me.
I am far from slapping myself on the back, here, though, because I myself have bristled at such texts because I, too, focused on the "burden."

I was wrong to do, as Miss Manners makes clear:
[T]he text is less intrusive -- and therefore more respectful -- than barging in on someone, assuming constant availability.
Yes, but again, I -- who have complained before about how useless ringers are these days -- must admit that I still missed the brilliance of that multiple times.

The unseen benefit to me here is the lack of an annoying distraction, the ringer. (Unless I expect to hear from someone, I mute my cell phone ringer and text notifications, and batch-review for important messages a few times a day.) In addition, many text apps have an option to call in reply, which is perfect for such messages, and especially those times you receive such a text in real time, as I have.

Many thanks to Miss Manners for pointing that out: I won't look at such messages the same way again, and will use this device myself in the future for all but calls to parties that expect them, or for time-sensitive matters.

My title to the contrary, the ringer isn't obsolete, of course, but its intrusiveness and ease of abuse seem close to being solved.

-- CAV

P.S. If I recall correctly, Google Voice can be made to intercept calls to land lines, permitting voice messages with transcription. If so, I'll do this so I can have a superior alternative to the expedient of unplugging my land line when I need to concentrate.

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