August Theme: Dead2Me

The credit for this month’s theme goes to Steve Matthews, a member of our Advisory Board.

The premise is to think of something that you used to do or use, but no longer do or use. Great idea, Steve, and one I thought would be super easy for me to write about: the phonebook, also known as the Yellow Pages. I hadn’t looked anything up in a phonebook in years. I look everything up online. Except the week of #nopower when there was no Internet, and trying to call a 1-800 support number from my smartphone was a challenge. The Yellow Pages had the number, and better yet, it had the number to report outages! A whole list of numbers, actually.

So much for the Yellow Pages being “Dead2Me,” but I couldn’t begrudge that. #nopower reminds you of what used to be and it turned out to be helpful that I still remembered how to use a phonebook.

And then last weekend I was in downtown Chicago for the TechWeek Conference, and it hit me: the landline is Dead2Me.

The landline, the phone on the wall I used to make plans with friends, to call home when I arrived back at my college apartment, to call businesses to see if they were hiring, to make doctors appointments and call teachers and coaches to get quotes and stats for a newspaper article. I remember, in grade school, being really excited when my parents decided I was old enough to have a phone in my room. And I remember the thrill of walking into the office of my first job out of college, and seeing a phone sitting at my desk.

Now, I don’t have a phone sitting at my desk. There are days I don’t have a desk, but rather a table at a local coffee shop or my lap while sitting in on a session at a conference. The landline has been replaced with a myriad of options that I utilize: Skype, Google Talk (and recently Hangout) and my smartphone.

It occurs to me that, as a result of the landline being Dead2Me, so is the ease of disconnecting. Alas, that is for another post.

9 Responses to “August Theme: Dead2Me”

  1. stevematthews

    Ya, that ‘Matthews guy’ is full of great ideas… Now I’m having trouble backing it up with my own ‘dead2me’ idea. 🙂

  2. @stevematthews Indeed. Sometimes it’s the obvious thing because, well, it’s Dead2Me.

  3. Love it Gwynne.

    Quick story to illustrate the point.

    We were at a cub scout outing with the boys in DuPage county last year, at a fair surrounded by police and fire services teams. One of the tables was teaching the boys to use the phone to dial 911 and provide basic informatoin to the operator who was pretending to be on the other end of the line. I watched my 9 year old pick up the handset and fumble with it. He literally did not know how to use it.

    It was at that moment, I realized he’d never even heard a dial tone in his life. Never used a land line. We haven;t had one in the house in years and years. Heh.

  4. @Sean McGinnis Thanks!

    That’s a perfect story to illustrate the point. Guess there’s a whole generation where the land line is Dead2Me.

  5. If there is one tech that will never be dead2me – it’s a landline. I consider it the last line of defense in my ability to get things done digitally.

    Don’t get me wrong: I use unified messaging, a VoIP line, and my cell phone to run my business – but there is still an AT&T landline running into my h-office.

    Being a person who tends to plan for the worst and working digitally since before many of the techs in use today even were a twinkle (when I started all Google did was index/search)…. I KNOW that if all else fails, that landline can be hooked up to my Brother Multi Function machine so I can still send/receive information digitally – without the need for the web.

    I also tend to like useful old things (Hi Sean) – so when I found the 1940’s style black rotary phone at a “antiques” store in PA, I had to have it.

    Wanna talk about the look on a kid’s face first when they see it!!! Invariably I get asked “Does that work?!?!” When I say yes and they pick up the huge, heavy black handset and hear the dial tone – usually the eyes widen and mouth drops open a bit … then you see the total look of confusion spread over their expression as they look down at the dial…priceless!

  6. @LegalTypist Excellent point, Andrea. There were a few times I had to go out to the car and charge my smartphone, which ran the risk of also draining my car battery unless I turned the car on, which is unwise in a closed garage which meant I had to manually open the door. Not too hard, just pull the cord and it unhooks itself from the auto mechanism. But it’s creepy in the dark! Still, I had to have a charged phone. Course, none of this would be an issue for a land line.

    LOL! I can totally imagine the look on kids faces when they look at a rotary phone. One of my friends parents had one, and when I was a kid, it took a minute for me to figure out how to use it. The sound, the click-click-click as the dial spun, was so cool! Too bad that’s not an option when dialing via cell phone.

    You know, I still pause and marvel on those rare occasions I see a pay phone somewhere. I pick it up, too, to see if it still works.

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