Are Phone Calls Becoming Obsolete?

Are Phone Calls Becoming Obsolete?

Will the many alternative forms of long-distance communication phase out phone calls for good?

Personally, I own at least three devices that I can use to communicate with someone far away, as long as I have an internet connection: a smartphone, a tablet, and a laptop. When I was in elementary school in the mid-nineties, I only had two options to contact someone who was farther away than I could reach by foot: through snail mail or the house phone. I always had an irrational fear of calling people when I was younger, like when my mom asked me to call my friends across the street to ask when it was okay to come over. Eventually, my parents decided to bring AOL into our household, and they set up an email address for me. Now I was able to quickly communicate through writing, instead of with only my voice over the phone. Subsequent years brought AOL Instant Messaging (AIM), chat rooms, cell phones and, eventually, texting into our lives. It made it so much easier to simply message boys I liked and wait for their responses, as opposed to calling them on the phone. One time, some of my friends called a boy they liked and told him, which I thought was so brave of them!

Luckily, with AIM, we could chat as much as we liked with our friends, but text messaging plans usually only allowed about 200 text messages per month, per person. Several of my friends got in trouble with their parents for texting so much; they did not think it was necessary to pick up the phone and call anyone because text messages were so easy! My junior high years brought MySpace, and eventually, we had Facebook and Twitter in high school. The social media revolution had started. Slowly but surely, phone calls became reserved only for your close family members or for important events. I also started using a Blackberry to send emails to people even when a desktop or laptop computer was not available. Blackberry Messenger was a fun service that replaced AIM for me and many others because we could use it anywhere there was a data connection.

Because I went away to college across the country from California to Louisiana, Facebook became an important tool for sharing what was new with me with one simple status update, and the information when to every single one of my friends at once. Skype was one of the only video chat services that were reliable for catching up with friends and family face to face, and it was especially important for seeing my long-distance boyfriend every night before bed. College was also a place where I was able to meet and become close with people from around the world, so apps like WhatsApp and Viber became important to be able to communicate with them across geographical boundaries and foreign phone plans. With the normalization of the iPhone came the advent of FaceTime, which made it possible to have a video chat on the go over a data connection. Several apps followed suit, and now we have a plethora of options for video chat and for sharing information with hundreds, if not thousands, of followers and friends; Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat and many more apps of which I am probably not even aware are available for us to use at our fingertips on our phones, tablets, and computers.

If I receive a phone call from someone, it is usually for an important or grave reason. Sometimes I am concerned when I receive calls from people because I assume that something is so wrong or complicated that they could not have just texted me about it. Several companies do not even want to spend resources on having a person available with whom you can speak about concerns on the phone, so it is very typical to receive information by phone through an automated system, or, worse, they only have a recording telling you to visit their website in order to find the answer to your question. No one seems to want to bother with talking on the phone anymore.

For me, social media and texting are great for many reasons, but nothing can compare to catching up with an old friend on the telephone. Since I grew up in a time when that was the only way to communicate quickly across a long distance, I still feel it impolite to talk to someone about important information by text or by social media. I recently became engaged to my aforementioned long-distance boyfriend- we have been together for more than seven years, so several of our friends and family knew that our engagement was an inevitable exciting event to come. On the night of our engagement, I decided I wanted to let some of my closest friends and family know about it first by calling them before making it Facebook official. I had not talked with some of these friends and family by phone for months, if not years, before the engagement because I typically only contact them via texting or social media. I realized how important it is to keep in touch by phone with my closest friends, so I am working on calling more of my friends within the coming weeks to discuss not only my engagement but the new things in the lives of my friends and family.

Landlines seem to be few and far between these days (fun fact: you should always still have a house phone for emergency calls- just plug in any landline phone into a jack and if you dial 911 it will still go through! Lifeguard and first aid training FTW). Does anyone born in the new millennium even know where this icon comes from?

What do you think? For those of you who grew up without the internet or smartphones, is calling people still important? For those of you who grew up only using smartphones, is it necessary to call anyone anymore? Let me know in the comments below.

Cover Image Credit: Christopher Bowns

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The Downfall Of Technology As Told By Black Mirror

"Before this obsession, when we had conversations, remember?"

Technology. Technology surrounds us daily as we interact with friends, co-workers, family members, etc. Through the access of phone calls, FaceTime, Skype video calls and social media. While the recent updates to technology over the last decade have improved drastically, the effects technology leaves on millennials today has become overwhelming.

Netflix series "Black Mirror" has taken over and become a hit show. I was first shown an episode of "Black Mirror" in my Expository Writing class as a gateway to our technology unit. The series' first episode of the third season is exceptionally written. 'Nosedive' delivers the obsession society faces with technology, and the unpleasing effects.

1. Characters in the episode are always holding their phones.

Main character, Lacie Pound, is introduced in the opening scene of the episode as she goes for a morning run while looking at her phone. Nowadays, teens are glued to their electronics. I am guilty of this myself, however, I am working on minimizing my time on my phone and using social media.

Throughout this episode, it is important to note how many times the characters utilize their phones. After watching this episode several times, I reminded myself of how many times I would look at my phone in an hour, so I could minimize how much I spend time looking on apps and social media.

2. Everything is done over the phone

Between Lacie taking pictures of her everyday activities to catching up with old friend Naomi, Lacie's phone is attached at her hip, meaning she never goes anywhere without it and does everything with it. Conversation has become almost extinct whereas "rating" each other has become the new normal. After a conversation with someone or receiving a service of any kind, Lacie along with other characters rate each other. This rating could potentially raise the average number or drop based on confrontation.

I've noticed this more and more as I was in high school. Students were on their phones so much It had gotten to the point where teachers needed to apply a "phone jail" to their class rules. Students used their phones for everything during a school day, from school work, pleasure, etc. which I find rather unsettling.

3. High ratings correlate to high self-esteem

After several conversations with various people, Lacie's rating continues to increase, therefore allowing her confidence to become apparent. Much like today's use of social media, the more 'likes' and 'followers' we have, the more popular and likable we are, which is a false and disturbing misconception.

4. Low ratings = limited to no privileges

If the character's ratings continue to decline, it becomes difficult for them to purchase houses, find sponsorship, etc. Ultimately, the show depicts a high standard for its people and if the characters don't live up to that standard, privileges are slowly taken away. In my opinion this is cruel, but accurately paints a picture of how millennials act towards their profiles on social media.

5. Social media takes over your life

Time after time Lacie's average rate dropped so low that the fight to bring it back up was impossible. She cared so much of how others viewed her that she tried too hard and wound up bringing her rate down significantly with every penalty faced. It had gotten so low to the point she became mentally insane, threatening people with knives who did not rate her a good score.

While I myself use social media for fun, I do not let the amount of 'likes,' 'followers,' or 'comments' define who I am as a person. I believe all millennials should take this into consideration and not rely on social media for confidence.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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5 Reasons Why Us Millennials Wouldn't Survive 5 Minutes Without Google, If Even That

I probably wouldn't have passed 8th grade.

Its the year 2018. We have Siri to tell us basic math problems, Alexa the dot to play music for us or give a weather recap, and any other "problems" that arise in our everyday lives, we simply just turn to Google. Back in the dinosaur age, before there were cell phones, Google, and crazy technology, people will tell you life was much simpler, well I disagree. I'd like to think life was just plain, boring!

We have become so accustomed to a life with Google, I have compiled a list of 5 reasons why I don't think I would even make it through a day without it — and that is scary and amazing all in itself.

1. We wouldn't know how to go anywhere

A paper map? What is that? Just use Google Maps, I can put in any address and get real-time traffic, how many minutes it will take me to get there, even the mileage is all calculated out. If a paper map was my only option I would struggle to even figure out what direction North was.

2. Homework would be impossible

Personally, I need a YouTube video, Quizlet, and an example problem just to figure out how to do my math homework. I probably would not have made it passed the 8th grade if it wasn't for Google's homework help.

3. Encyclopedia who?

Writing a paper, or inquiring any fact really would involve taking a trip to the library, finding the book needed, flipping to the page, etc. You get it, it would be an incredibly lengthy process just to find out a simple fact that Google can tell you in seconds.

4. Events and activities would be pretty much nonexistent

Have you been to a concert, ran a 5K, enjoyed a dinner special, or gone to a farmers market lately? Technology was most likely the way you found out about the event. It was shared, tweeted, texted, or you searched about it! In other words, we would have no life if it wasn't for Google.

5. We wouldn't know that people are eating Tide Pods

Okay so maybe this isn't the most important news headline... but my point is, news and trends would not be available in the ways they are now, and it would take much longer to get to us. The news could even be outdated or irrelevant if it is not delivered in time, gasp!!

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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