The landline is dead. Long live good manners

The ring of a telephone is intrusive and demanding, screaming 'Answer me! Now!'


I wonder if the Flintstones have got the memo yet about most people having moved on from those cars made of rocks that you stick your feet through and run along the ground. Or maybe they're still waiting for the news to be chiselled into a stone tablet and delivered to them by dino-post.

Either way, they probably won't be aware of last week's shock news that the landline is no longer considered essential by younger generations. Nor, apparently, were many of those who read last week's report, by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, and went into a right old palaver about it. The Foundation asked people what goods and services they considered necessary for an "acceptable standard of living", and found that many young people prefer lightweight, compact objects that you can carry around with you and which also act as maps, games, instant forms of communication and sources of rolling news as well as telephones, rather than landlines which only ever ring to try to convince you that you have been mis-sold PPI. (It didn't say, but some of the older generation has yet to figure out you can carry mobile phones around with you, and even have them switched on.)

It wasn't until a friend emailed me to check my home phone number recently that it occurred to me that my landline probably hasn't worked since I swapped broadband provider, several months ago. It's been so long since I answered it that I hadn't noticed it had stopped ringing. Nor do I tend to answer my phone at work: no good ever comes of it. My aversion to telephoning is so severe that when I called a friend last year to tell him some good news, he answered: "What's wrong, are you OK?"

There are those who say that modern technology is making yobs and cretins of us, and that phoning a friend is the only true way to care. Nonsense! My friends are all busy, and most of the time there is no point phoning their landline because they won't be home. Even if they were, the ring of a telephone is intrusive and demanding, screaming "Answer me! Now! Before I stop ringing!" Politeness is sending a text or an email which the recipient can look at properly in her own time. The text or email could say, "Let's talk", and then you can ring each other from your mobiles, which still, among other things, are phones.

Also in last week's shocking news was evidence that Facebook has been messing with users' emotions by manipulating feeds to show more positive or negative updates. The researchers found that readers of negative comments then posted more negative comments, and so on. Some users are fighting back, by consistently posting three happy things every day, the idea being that a snowball effect will spread happiness all over the internet and eventually cause world peace. Now just try doing that one phone call at a time.

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