Landlines become landmines in phone wars

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am tired of the digital age straining my budget. The information era has dug deep into my pockets and I am having trouble eradicating it. While I may enjoy having a cellphone that instantly accesses information and takes better photos than a professional photographer, I am sick of paying for it. On top of my landline.

Yes, I am one of those people who still has a landline. Not so much out of nostalgia, but because no matter which cellphone company I have gone with, the signal has been inconsistent around where I live. Calls either don’t go through or get cut off mid-sentence. Text messages from the evening before don’t pop up until I am headed south to work, quite a ways from home. It’s a less-than-ideal situation, but I do need the landline so that my kids, who assure me they are the last two American children who do not have their own cellphones, can call me after they get home from school and interrupt me at work.

Paying both the cellphone and the landline bills from two different providers each month is getting as old as it is expensive. On top of those two expenses is the Internet bill and the satellite television bill. I’d like to do without both, but can’t if I want to continue to submit online stories and photos for publication and/or want to be able to watch before work each morning a couple of faith-based programs that help prevent me from taking retaliative action against the people who came up with all digital devices that have complicated the crap out of my life while allegedly simplifying it.

I resent the heck out of my satellite TV bill, dual phone bill and Internet bill. Each time a new provider appears or special offer comes out, I scramble and call (using my landline) in hope I will be able to “bundle” several services together and perhaps save a bundle. But so far, service glitches keep preventing it. Looks like I will have to continue to give away hard-earned money for partially-duplicated services. I suspect I am not alone with my complaint.

Hats off to those who live in town or somewhere else where they can drop one of their phone plans, get inexpensive cablevision and/or cheap Internet, separately or in combination. It’s gotta be happening for someone, as according to the title of a recent Associated Press news article, “Americans hanging up on landline telephones.” I’d like to slam down that receiver myself.

Statistically speaking, the article said less than half of our nation’s population (45.9%) still has landline telephone service. However, 39% of U.S. households have both types of service. Someone is making money during this transition stage. That’s about all I know for certain.

Demographic patterns show renters and younger adults are more likely to have just a cellphone. Researchers postulate this is due to their mobility and comfort with newer technologies. But that’s not all of the interesting patterns observed by researchers, who also noted wireless-phone-only adults are also more likely to drink heavily, to smoke and to be uninsured. Hmmm. I never knew the good, old-fashioned phone cord served to tether us to clean living and responsibility.

The news article quoted the landline/cellphone study co-author, Stephen J. Blumberg (who, incidentally, is a landline user), that even after taking age and income into consideration, “There certainly is something about giving up a landline that appeals to the same people who may engage in risky behavior.” Wow. Get down with your bad cellphone self!

As interesting as the information was, its timing was moreso. That same day, I happened to pick up from my kitchen counter the previous month’s newsletter from a church I used to attend. In it was a short blurb regarding church contact information: “Please take note that we have dropped our land phone line. You can no longer reach us at that number. Please use the following . . . (cellphone numbers of husband and wife parishioner friends of mine who volunteered to take church-related phone calls).”

Sure hope Russ and Shirley aren’t too busy smoking and drinking to answer.

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