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Were We Happier with Landlines?

Posted March 10, 2018 12:00 AM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: Landlines smartphone

This is a question that has been nagging at me since reading an article that loosely touched on the subject.

When I think of landlines, I can’t help but remember details like the thrill of not knowing who was on the other end of the line when the phone rang and — if you were as fortunate as I was during a particularly exciting spring in the late 1980s — the fragments of fascinating conversations happening on our very own line between strangers.

The party line — which is one telephone line shared among a number of customers — lasted in our home for a few short but memorable weeks, mostly because I began creating reasons for picking up the phone hoping to catch a snippet of a stranger’s conversation whenever there was a lull in my busy preteen schedule. It didn’t take long before my parents caught on and put an end to the party line.

Fast forward all these years later and gone are the days of party lines and mystery callers. Instead, our phones not only let us know who is calling, but we can also take the devices with us wherever we go.

Because they are so convenient and capable of a variety of functions, they have changed the way we communicate with others, making it possible to connect with loved ones and friends as much as we want, whenever we want. Yet, a number of studies show that most of us don’t use our phones to make calls, opting instead to send text or social media messages — shooting off a sentence or two here and there consisting mainly of a texting language that reduces words to a letter or a symbol.

What we aren’t conveying through those messages, according to research, is emotion or sincerity. Likewise, in a landline use survey where participants were asked how they felt after receiving an actual phone call, people described feeling wanted, included, involved and needed — a few of the hallmarks of happiness.

As such, is it natural to conclude that we aren’t feeling those things from our current iteration of smartphone?

Were you happier with a landline?

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#1

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/10/2018 12:49 AM

I think you are comparing apples and oranges....communication itself has evolved...texting is the best communication method for casual conversation, and suits most accurately the need of urgency in most information exchanges for non-business related purposes, you can talk when you have time, and they can answer when they have time, most casual conversation does not require the urgency of a telephone call....The text is less disruptive than a phone call which can come at a very inconvenient time, who hasn't been in a conversation with somebody that receives a call, holds up a finger and answers a call right in the middle of your conversation, it's rude....and who can forget being away from home and needing to call somebody urgently without a phone handy, the search for a phone then has to take place, and you needed the correct change, and had to sometimes argue with a rude operator that seemed to take pleasure in frustrating you for any reason that might arise....and that's if you could find a phone nearby, sometimes you had to search for up to an hour or more....no, communication has evolved into a more sophisticated, intelligent, relevant and reliable tool, with the smartphone, a giant leap forward for mankind....

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#2

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/10/2018 9:56 AM

In the old days, I couldn't ignore a ringing phone. Now, with caller ID, I find that 90 percent of calls are from telemarketers that I can ignore. So, I'm happier now, not having to interrupt my life everytime some stranger wants to sell me something.

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#6
In reply to #2

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/10/2018 10:06 PM

On top of that, land lines can only interupt you when your home, watching TV, or just relaxing.., cell phone interrupt you 24/7

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#11
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Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/11/2018 8:28 PM

. . . "can" interrupt you. My cell phone has an off button and I use it.

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#3

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/10/2018 10:24 AM

I think the biggest factor in choice of txt vs phone call is cell phone plans. Text is generally unlimited on even the cheapest plan, however you will pay dearly for minutes actually talking on the phone. So the choice of text vs talk is really engineered by the companies who offer those plans.

I have to say the advantages of cell phones are more than fair trade for a landline though. Being able to take it with you, stay in touch by txt, connect to the internet if necessary, and when you do make a real phone call, not being tethered to the wall by a cable is also a plus.

I'm glad you mentioned the research about how people feel after an actual phone call, because I do still use my cell for a fair bit of actual call time, to check on and socialize with an elderly parent. We stay in touch by text in the daytime, but always have a voice call in the "free minutes after 6 pm" window. IMO text alone is not enough to assess someone's wellbeing. One final advantage of the cell is "speaker phone". The audio quality is not the best, but having hands free to get things done while my parent talks as much as is wanted that day, is another big plus over the old landlines.

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#4

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/10/2018 5:15 PM

I still have a landline at home, though I seldom use it - it's essentially 'free' with my DSL. Most of my personal calling is done with my mobile phone.The real advantage with a mobile is the ability to text. I probably text my son dozens more times than I talk on the phone with him. It's so easy to send him a quick text, and I know it won't be an interruption if he's in a meeting.

They still have landlines and 'regular' phones for each office where I work. The sound quality is still much better with landlines than cell phones. The smart phone seems to be on the flattening part of the growth curve in terms of apps and related improvements. Apple ought to concentrate on sound quality as their next major improvement.

But - happier with landlines? I think I'd be very frustrated if I had to go back to using a landline and not have my mobile phone.

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/10/2018 6:11 PM

The sound quality is still much better with landlines than cell phones.

Agreed! The data compression used in cell phones is optimized for speech processing. Any other sound in the background produces very unusual results.

Here is an interesting article:

https://spectrum.ieee.org/telecom/wireless/why-mobile-voice-quality-still-stinksand-how-to-fix-it

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#12
In reply to #5

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/12/2018 10:51 AM

Good article. It's long, so for now I just scanned it; I'll read the whole thing later. It's sad that 3 years have gone by since it was written, and there hasn't been (to me) any noticeable improvement.

It's nice to see, though, that my opinion is shared by some experts working to solve the problem.

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#7

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/10/2018 10:31 PM

I miss things about the old landlines that people could figure out to "get around the rules".

For example, during my high school years in the 60's somebody figured out that, on a pay phone in a remote area of the school, you could unscrew the earpiece, touch the positive speaker pole to the coin return button and get a dial tone for a free phone call. And that included unassisted long distance.

Another thing the kids figured out was that if you dialed your land line number and other people in the same exchange did the same thing, you could have a conversation between the busy signal tones. And, we never did find a limit on how many people could talk at the same time.

I have a prepaid cell that I rarely use as a phone. My home phone is Magicjack which is my main caller and the Magicjack app on the cell is handy to receive calls if I'm away from home but connected to wifi. The Magicjack app also supports texting on the cell but not on VOIP to my home phone. I found that out quite accidentally when someone texted to my home number and it came in on my cell.

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/10/2018 11:32 PM

I keep my landline as I am able to receive reverse 911 calls, in case of emergencies. Also, when the power goes out, I can still reach out. Cell phones , in emergencies tend to load up, and the towers also have problems , like blowing down, or burning down.. ( I am living in the Thomas Burn area of Ventura County, Ca.)

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#10
In reply to #8

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/11/2018 10:18 AM

It’s been over 15 years since I took out my land line and The only thing I miss about the land line, was the under $20.00/month phone bill.

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#9

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/10/2018 11:50 PM

Sometimes I miss the days when one pay phone could call another.

At the corner of Ball Rd and Anaheim Blvd there was a Chevron station and a Market Basket, each had its own walk in booth ( outside ) . My friend showed me how we could call the other booth and when people came to answer the phone, we would hang up, then they would start to walk away and it would ring again, you get the picture. We thought it was such a hoot. Things boys in 6th grade do for pranks.

It was interesting to see how people in general would feel compelled to answer a phones ring, especially a public phone that wasn't even their own landline.

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#13

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/12/2018 11:24 PM

I was/am happy (content) with both, and use both today. We change, too. We can manage more activities with mobiles, be they business or personal, and so can others. Years ago, I had to adapt to a world of cars as my family didn't have one, nor television, but neither did many others. Much of life is competitive and comparative. We adapt to the technology. I am much better informed now because of smartphone access to the net and to news. And for communication, I can choose my "distance." Personal closeness and emotion can be both scary and comforting; our voices are still around to express feelings, there is email for those who want to avoid them, and texts to control our words yet be quick about it. And twitter and facebook ... and Skype which we never had in the not-so-good old days. We grow, we adapt, we can be content.

"The optimist says the cup is half full, the pessimist says it's half empty, but the engineer asks "how much is in the cup?"

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/12/2018 11:39 PM

I thought the engineer ( looking forward to an all night jam session) said, " You did leave me some coffee to go with this jelly donut, didn't you ?

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#15

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/13/2018 5:48 AM

Off Topic reply. When I looked at the post heading I read "Were we happier with landmines" and immediately thought this guy is nuts! Then I looked more closely and offered a silent apology. Beware of getting old.

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#16

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/13/2018 8:21 AM

Oh yeah - I grew up in the time of party lines and nosey operators who knew EVERYTHING that was happening. The first dial phone came to my home town when I was 10. While it was convenient to pick up the phone and just say - call my Mother / Father (both worked) and not have to tell the operator the number, it definitely had a downside as well. No way a group of under 10 year old boys could plan any kind of mischief over the phone without the parents knowing what was coming. The phone was strictly for serious business.

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#19
In reply to #16

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/13/2018 9:20 AM

Yes, A party line today would be called 'social media'.

And when we had a party line,.. we called our social media 'ole Grandma Anderson'

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#17

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/13/2018 8:49 AM

I use my landline (which is actually an internet phone line) for dentist/doctor office, garbage company, credit cards, and anything else where you have to give a phone number. I never answer it as it is mostly a reminder of an appointment or some telemarketer. It is only around $20 a month and allows you to call forward, simultaneous ring another phone and has voice mail that emails you the text of the call.

A smartphone with headphones is a great way to talk to friends and loved ones. You can actually walk around and/or multi-task while talking on the phone. I remember the days of being tethered to the phone line as a kid and having to be careful of what you were saying since your parents and siblings were within earshot of your conversation.

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#18

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/13/2018 8:52 AM

We got our first cell phones in 2001. My husband was on a business trip in NYC on 9/10 and in Connecticut on 9/11. He got his phone there the next day. I was halfway across the country with our almost 2-year-old son. It took him about a week to get home and I was grateful to have a way to keep in contact with him. I got my first phone a few weeks after that. I got my first smartphone years later when I realized I could get emails on my phone and no longer miss messages that my son's lacrosse practice or game had changed location or been canceled. Eventually, it became a way to keep in touch with both our kids when they aren't home (and yes, occasionally when we are all home). At some point along the way, I figured out the benefits of texting and began to rely on it as a way to reach out without interrupting someone or having to engage in a long conversation. That said, sometimes conversations are more efficient, so it's nice to have both options. I live in an area where cell phone service has not always been great. It's much better now, but I still use my landline often when I have to have an actual conversation. (My mother, 88, and my dad, 97, call me every Sunday - usually on my landline; sometimes from my mom's smartphone.) My landline has talking caller id which allows me to ignore most calls (except that the voice makes my dog howl!). I don't find that I get overly interrupted by my smartphone, though it can be a distraction. My smartphone is not just my phone. It is my alarm clock, my timer, my GPS, my radio, my camera, my calendar, my grocery list (and other lists), my reminders, my movie & theater tickets, my social media, my news, in a pinch - my tv or book... Does it make me happier than just having a landline? I'm not really sure how to answer that. It serves many purposes that I appreciate. Would I prefer not to see my kids staring at theirs so much? Yes.

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#20

Re: Were We Happier with Landlines?

03/13/2018 3:44 PM

Much happier and much healthier! I am one of the growing numbers of people that has been given a "diagnosis" of "EHS" (Electro-hypersensitivity Syndrome).

I only use my "flip" cell phone when travelling, and use my landline for all other telephone needs. I am not anxiously awaiting texts or phone messages or feel the need to be in constant contact with people. I enjoy in-person conversations with friends, relatives, colleagues and also enjoy our occasional landline phone conversations. I enjoy communicating by email, and even more by hand-written letters via the U.S. Postal Service.

After the installation of a "smart" water meter at my place of work, I immediately began to feel sick: headaches, painful sensations around my eyes, fatigue, nausea, anxiety, loss of focus. The condition worsened within a week: I began to feel painful, rapid pulsating of my temple veins; and ultimately, a seizure where I lost control of my legs.

I underwent a barrage of tests, including: Thyroid tests, EEG, MRI, and other tests. All results showed that I was in very good health. I had a complete physical exam one month prior to the "smart" meter symptoms, and was given a clean bill of health. I began to feel the eye pain and temple sensations near the end of the MRI.

Not only was I very unhappy--I was very scared that I would not be able to survive in this world. I could not be near cell towers, "smart" phones, wifi routers, etc.

I have learned that I am not the only one that is adversely affected by wireless technology. I have also learned some strategies to limit and shield myself from the Omni-present emfs that we are now all exposed to.

I have learned from scientific publications that pulsed emfs cause rapid mitotic cell division (cancer) can disrupt our calcium gradients in cell membranes (nerve cells, etc), can effect our cell lipid membranes (can cause leaks in our cell membranes), and can have many other adverse physiological effects.

I know many people who simply cannot separate themselves from their "smart" phones. I have been rear-ended while stopped at a stoplight in my car three times by people playing with their cell phones.

I have read that people can experience depression from facebook because they don't have enough friends, or they are missing out on experiences, or they receive unfavorable comments, or feel they are losing their sense of individuality, etc. etc.

I feel much healthier and am much happier using my landline!!!

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