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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

EDITORIAL: In Defense of the Humble Landline Phone


There’s a⁣ piece of technology sitting lonely and silent in your home. Overlooked, underrated and taken for granted. It’s not your flat screen television, nor your iPad. It’s ‌that injury-prone six-character wonder that you’re probably reading this on. No, I’m speaking about the humble, put upon, landline ⁣phone.

Many of you might​ think this ⁣is a love letter to an outdated technology. Heck, my‌ nephew, smart lad that he is, asked me why bother when his shiny new smartphone does everything a landline can do and more. I’ll tell you why. ⁢There are solid, practical reasons to keep and use your landline, and in the process make⁤ the life of​ this Schenectady native⁢ a⁣ bit more bearable.

Firstly, let’s talk about reliability. During Superstorm Sandy, ‍millions of people in our region were left without power. Most mobile​ networks went down like a sack of potatoes due to the storm. I saw my​ neighbors – most in their⁣ 30s and 40s – panic because⁣ their cell phones, their only form⁣ of communication, had become as useful as paperweights in an ethereal storm. But you know what still worked? My landline. While others were stressing, I was ‌casually calling friends and family to make sure they were ‌safe. And, I was reachable when emergency services needed to warn residents to evacuate due to rising ​floodwaters.

Speaking of emergencies, landlines have always been the reliable sidekick. When I​ was a wee lad of 10, I remember a fierce winter storm that hit Schenectady. ⁤Our old house, ⁢as sturdy as it was, couldn’t take the weather and the old roof came crashing down. I was alone, fearful, and in need of help.⁢ We​ didn’t have a fancy “smart” phone then. Just a solid, hefty, steadfast rotary dial ​phone‍ – anchored by a landline connection.⁣ I called for help and it ⁣came. Had I been relying on our current ‍mobile connections, that call might never have made it.

Now let me tell you something about call clarity. It seems these days folks are okay with dropping $1000 on a ‍device whose main functionality – making phone calls – it does quite poorly. And there you are⁢ saying, “what?” about six times in a row, shouting into your phone on a busy street. The ‍dropped calls, the shoddy reception—have ​you already forgotten how it was to hold a conversation without asking “Can you hear ‌me?” three times?

I remember my jovial grandpa, Brian McCarthy, used to say, “A conversation worth having, is worth hearing.” That man knew the value of good banter and cheap whiskey. But if the only telephone he knew was today’s mobile phone, I’m pretty certain he would’ve given up ‌talking on the ‍phone altogether.

Fellow Schenectadyans, ‍we’re not a flashy people. We know the value of practical, reliable things, like ⁤a simple conversation ‍over the landline that doesn’t require us to ask if we’re still connected ⁤every two minutes. Believe me, at​ 50, I don’t⁢ have the patience for it anymore.

Constantly glued⁤ to our ‍mobile devices, we’ve basically handed ⁣out the keys ‌to our privacy. ⁤From advertisers tracking our every move to security breaches by hackers, the mobile world ⁣is full of invasive eyes and ears. The humble landline‌ doesn’t care about who you’re calling, how often, or if‍ you like to⁢ make calls while⁤ eating a cheeseburger. It just ⁢works, without feeding into some invasive‌ marketing algorithm or the darker corners ​of the internet.

Now, I’m not an⁢ old technophobe shouting at you to get off my lawn. I comprehend ⁣the allure of smartphones, with ⁤their games, their‌ fancy apps, their connectivity. I simply value my ‌consistent and confidential communication. I value being able to call without having to check my battery first. I value the ability to ‍converse without yelling⁤ or continuously asking if the other person can hear me. ‍I value knowing that in an emergency, my faithful landline will be there, ready to connect me to the world.

It was my grandpa who also said, “If ‍it ​ain’t broke, don’t replace it‍ with something flashier and less reliable.” So, here’s to the humble landline, the stalwart sentinel of connectivity. Countless relationships built, lives saved, and deals made. ‍You’ve earned​ your spot in my life and, I believe, in‌ the lives of my fellow Schenectadyans as well.

Before you decide to sever that landline connection, think about what you’re giving up for ⁤that bit of convenience. Weigh the consistency‌ of a landline ⁣against the fickleness of a ‍smartphone. And⁣ remember, age doesn’t always equate to ⁤obsolescence. Sometimes, it’s ⁣a mark⁤ of reliability and staying power.

Till then, as the sun dips beyond the Mohawk River, I’ll sit with ⁤my faithful rotary dial serenely by my side. All’s well⁢ in​ Schenectady.

Brian McCarthy
Brian McCarthy
I'm Brian McCarthy! At your service to offer traditionally informed perspective on today's issues. Some call it out of touch; I call it time-honored wisdom.
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