Saturday 16 July 2016
I was traveling through space with a little blue alien in pigtails when I was awakened by a telephone call telling me I had won a free cruise. A few hundred years ago, I could claim to be a prophet. In 2016, someone would have to be an idiot to believe that either scenario, interstellar spaceflight or free ocean voyage, was real.
Even though I grew up in the pre-cellular age, I've never been a big fan of telephone conversations. Back in my day, landline connections (which we just called "phones") delivered vastly superior audio quality (or perhaps my young ears just heard better), but even then each conversation was made of awkward pauses as each party guessed when the other was done speaking. About the only time I've ever enjoyed being on the phone for longer than 15 minutes was while engaging in phone sex in high school. Like real sex, the thrill wore off about the same time as my tongue got tired.
Now that my telephone has morphed into a personal assistant that I have nearby 24-hours a day, the telephone part of it has become less appealing than ever. I rarely feel the need to call anyone, and the only calls I get anymore are scams, like the aforementioned cruise I "won." (I only have to pay a "nominal" fee of a few hundred dollars to claim my prize: a ticket for a cruise with a face value of a few hundred dollars.) In college, I took my phone off the hook if I wanted to have sex. Now I turn my phone off just so I can sleep through the spam.
I'm beginning to think that the solution to spam telephone calls is to start charging for long-distance again. Robocalls existed in the age of analog telephones, but they weren't abused like this until technology made long-distance charges obsolete. If you made these spammers pay to place their calls, they'd stop. How many grandmothers do you have to bilk out of $9,000 to pay for a thousand telephone calls an hour?
A change in long distance rates might send us back to the days of the Sprint "Friends and Family" plans, where you got a discount on a limited number of numbers. That wouldn't bother me. I don't want to talk to anyone anyway. I gave up phone sex in the 20th century, and I haven't looked back.