A Second Opinion: Just like E.T., calling home!

BlogsBlogs & Archivesslider
 Makeshift communicator used by E.T. to call home


by Mary Foran


Remember the old heavy-handled telephones that you DIALED one finger-hole at a time? And before that, the ones that you had to crank to get the attention of the local switchboard operator? And before that, Alexander Graham Bell?

One finger-hole dial phone

Well, according to a writer for the Associated Press, Anick Jesdanun, writing for the local paper from New York, the majority of people in the U.S. are disconnecting from their home landlines, and simply using whatever cell phone service they have (or comparatively shopping for another service).

According to a government study to which she refers,  “50.8 percent of homes and apartments had only cell phone service” when the study was conducted in the latter half of 2016. The rest of the households surveyed still had landlines, or no telephone service at all. “More than 39 percent of households…have both…”

Cell phone towers are everywhere

Cell phone towers are everywhere. They are so ubiquitous they blend into the background of the roadside scenery.

Some people have multiple cell phones, one for each child or adult in the home, and each and every cell phone can be used to notify emergency services, the cell phone company, and Directory Assistance, which, for a price, will look up numbers for you in an automated voice, which requires a Standard American accent to really work right, at least within the U.S. (although you can request Spanish as an alternative idioma.)

According to Anick’s source,”Renters and younger adults are more likely to have just a cell phone, which researchers attribute to their mobility and comfort with new technologies.”

These researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey talked with 19,956 households to track their landline use for health studies. They found that “wireless-only adults are more likely to drink heavily, more likely to smoke, and be uninsured.”

Edificio Telefonica on Gran Via, Madrid

That, “even after factoring for age and income”, said Stephen J. Blumberg, the study’s co-author. He said, and Anick quoted him: “There certainly is something about giving up a landline that appeals to the same people who may engage in risky behavior.”

I remember slipping into the Madrid Telefonica building, and requesting a booth in which to “Call Home”, since I didn’t have a landline OR a cellphone at the time. The calls were always too short and expensive, and unsatisfying, as overseas calls always are! I must say, though, it was conveniently centrally-located, and everyone was always so nice about it, I thought it was an especially fine treat to hear their voices from so far away: an accidental tourist, to be sure!

Call home often. You’ll be glad you did.

La Telefonica has moved, I’ve been told, and cell phone service is excellent in Spain now, I expect; I don’t know if a study has been done on the subject of landlines vs. cellphone use there. All I know is that TECHNOLOGY marches on, and all of us are in the parade…

My advice is to Call Home as often as you can, and don’t worry about the cost! You’ll be glad you did!


> Featured image: E.T.’s communicator. Among its parts are a Speak & Spell, an umbrella lined with tinfoil, and a coffee can filled with other electronics/Mattingly23 via Wikipedia, CC BY3.0
> Old Phone/Joe Haupt via Flickr, CC BY2.0
> Cell Phone tower/Mike Mozart via Flickr, CC BY2.0 cropped
> Telefonica/Zarateman, PD
> Girl with cell/jseliger2 vis Flickr, CC BY2.0 cropped

About Mary
Born in Seattle, WA, U.S.A., and a graduate of the University of Oregon in Spanish and General Literature, Mary lived in Madrid, Spain during the 80s, a period in Spanish history which became known as “The Transition”. She taught English as a Foreign Language, and worked as Managing Editor of the Guidepost when it was still a weekly print publication. She did a stint on Spanish Foreign Radio and Radio Cadena, and corresponded for a Financial Times of London newsletter. She still has ties to Spain, loves the people and the country, and has great hopes for the future!