Cell Phones and the End of History

From Stephen Randall, on the demise of landlines and the growth of cell phones:

Bluetooth is ugly and frustrating; no wonder everyone likes it. Bluetooth alone has done more to destroy civil discourse than cable news and talk radio put together.

I’m convinced that the reason so many teens and 20-somethings hate talking on the phone is because they grew up with cell phones. The amount of mental energy it takes to plow through an average cell phone call is deceptively high, and if I’d grown up with cell phones I’d probably hate talking on them too. Doing it more than a couple of times a day is enough to give anyone chronic fatigue syndrome.

But the telephone industry has been conspiring for years to ruin landline phones too. In the old days, phones just worked. Modern phones, however, are dizzyingly variable in delivering simple sound quality.1 I’m not sure why. Do they use 10-cent microphones instead of the high-quality 20-cent microphones that would work better? Do the electronics simply not work well? Is it all down to cordless technology not being able to deliver 64 kbps of bandwidth reliably even at a distance of 20 feet? Or what? Why is the communication industry apparently so intent on making communication so unpleasant?

1And don’t get me started on headsets. I’ve tried at least half a dozen over the years and none of them work well. Is there some reason why AT&T operators in 1940 had headsets that delivered crystal clear voice quality but there’s no combination of consumer grade phone and headset in 2010 that doesn’t make you sound like you’re talking from the bottom of a well deep in one of al-Qaeda’s caves in Tora Bora?

THANK YOU.

We recently wrapped up the crowdfunding campaign for our ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project, and it was a smashing success. About 10,364 readers pitched in with donations averaging $45, and together they contributed about $467,374 toward our $500,000 goal.

That's amazing. We still have donations from letters we sent in the mail coming back to us, so we're on pace to hit—if not exceed—that goal. Thank you so much. We'll keep you posted here as the project ramps up, and you can join the hundreds of readers who have alerted us to corruption to dig into.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.