I keep telling people about how strange it feels to have a land line. Like millions of unhappy AT&T customers I now have to pay an extra $25 a month because my iPhone is so inconsistent in my apartment that I was about ready to lose my mind.
Anyway, I’ve been amazed at what a profound effect on my psyche a couple cordless phones and a Vonage box have had. Mainly, I’ve found it makes me feel married more than just about anything else thus far. (I’ve cleared this post with my wife, so no one should be offended.) What I mean is that there is something about having a communal phone that makes an apartment feel like a home and really makes me feel like I have a family.
Growing up we, like probably all of you, had a land line. Grandma would call the house and while she may have been looking for Dad, she was happy to talk to my sister or myself for a few minutes if we answered the phone. This behavior, obviously, doesn’t happen on a cell phone, where all calls are definitely meant for you. It’s a personal device as opposed to a shared one.
Funnily enough I wrote about just this topic in 2004 for American Demographics in an article about cord cutters:
Historically, the home telephone has been something that signifies a relationship; it is a number shared among a group of people. “The land line for voice purposes is seen as the communal phone. A grandparent calls the house and doesn’t care who in the family they get,” says Mark Page, vice president of management consulting firm A.T. Kearney, which along with Cambridge University released the Mobinet Index 2004, which examines mobile technology trends around the world. “No one has come up with a communal mobile phone yet.” So, young people today are able to create their own identity completely outside the control of their families.
When I published the article 6 percent of households had only a cell phone, in 2008 The New York Times reported that number had risen to 17 percent and earlier this year that number had risen to nearly 25 percent. Obviously we have known about this for awhile, but I found it no less shocking how big it felt to add a “home” number to my cell phone’s favorites list. Funny how new technology can make old technology feel even more important.