No One Answers Their Phones


Recently I came across this 2018 The Atlantic article Why No One Answers Their Phone Anymore via the Pocket App. In the article, author Alexis C. Madrigal argues about disappearing telephone culture with some history of discovery of telephone, early telephone etiquette, imperative to pick up the phone when it rang before the discovery of the caller ID or call back code.

Not picking up the phone would be like someone knocking at your door and you standing behind it not answering. It was, at the very least, rude, and quite possibly sneaky or creepy or something. Besides, as the phone rang, there were always so many questions, so many things to sort out. Who was it? What did they want? Was it for … me? 

Now, nobody picks up the phone anymore, this is primarily due to spam calls promoted by businesses, telemarketers and robocalls comprising almost 95% of incoming calls.

As Madrigal writes, the non-answering of the phone is also due to availability of other mode of communication options like text messaging, twitter, Facebook, slack, email, FaceTime.

Telemarketers, of course, were the original people who took advantage of the telephone culture’s drive to pick up the phone. But people cost money, even my dumb teenage self calling up plant managers in Alabama trying to sell them software to manage their material-data safety sheets. People get bored with their crappy, repetitive jobs. People quit.

I agree. We hardly pickup any phone that we don’t recognize.