Hung up on rudeness

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Changing communications technology is one of life’s never-ending annoyances, and now we have a new agitation: voice messaging.

Voice messaging allows smartphone owners to record their voice and send the recording to others as they would a text or a chat.

According to the Wall Street Journal, some people consider the technique bothersome and rude — a camp I am clearly in, and I’ll happily explain why.

I’ve experienced a lot of phone-technology changes in my life.

When I was a kid in the ‘70s and the phone rang, it was always a surprise and you’d hurry to find out who was calling our house.

Hard as it is for some to imagine, we had no caller ID.

We had no call-waiting, either — if you were on the line talking and someone called you, that person would be greeted by a busy signal.

Worse yet, if you needed a ride home after football practice, good luck getting through to my house.

My five sisters and my mom kept our single phone line occupied throughout the day. I spent half of my high school years redialing a pay phone.

The truth is, we actually wanted to answer the phone back then to learn who was calling.

Nothing was more disappointing than getting to a ringing phone too late and having the mystery caller hang up.

That began to change in the ‘70s when answering machines became affordable and many people began using them to screen their calls — behavior that was considered rude by many.

Here’s what was even ruder: For whatever reason, some people refuse to leave messages on answering machines. Getting home to hear a hang-up click on the answering machine was awfully agitating.

Until the invention of “*69.”

Punching those three keys into the phone would provide the number of the dirty rotten person who had the audacity to call your home and not leave a message.

This gave us the ability to call the rude person back, wait for his answering machine to play, then hang up!

And so it was that technology enabled rudeness began to proliferate.

Now, when our smartphones ring, we look to see who the rude person calling is, and think, before letting it go to voicemail, “Why couldn’t the idiot text me like a normal person?”

Which brings us to voice messaging.

As a highly impatient person, I’m far too busy to listen to other humans use spoken words to convey human thoughts to me.

The inflexions and changing tones they use to illustrate their points may seem more human and nuanced to them, but they only make me grumpier.

Look, I am a master procrastinator who wastes time all day long — but I resent when others waste my time for me by sending me voice chats that I have to spend precious seconds listening to.

For goodness sakes, email me or text me and give me words to read.

I’ll email you or text back some nice words you can read, and then the both of us can go on our merry way promoting the rudeness, grumpiness and incivility that we have allowed our technology to make a regrettable reality in modern life.

I leave you with this warning:

Keep voice messaging me and I swear to goodness I will buy a cheap cell phone that does not trace back to me and I’ll call your home phone — then hang up on your answering machine!

Copyright 2022 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Tom Purcell, creator of the infotainment site, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Email him at [email protected].