Silent, invisible signals have become the primary medium where communication signals are sent. Computer networks, television, and telephones have all lost their cables.
Cancelling television services to save money in favor of cheaper rental services such as Redbox has become a growing trend in the United States. Some people have adopted endless free video through the thousands of available websites. Those who have wanted a cheaper alternative to traditional television are switching to satellite services. Those satellites lead me to another wireless device. The cellular phone.
The original reasoning for this transition was one of practicality. Why should a person need a landline telephone restricted to one location when the cellular phone can be used to contact anyone anywhere? Why should I pay for a telephone line that I rarely use? These two questions hold sound logic, but the exclusive use of a cellular device has risks.
Falling into the Cellular Pit
Unreliability is one of the most annoying features of current cellular phones. Dropped calls are frustrating, counterproductive, and all too common. Carriers can cite statistics to make their networks sound better than those of the competition, phone manufacturers can cite better technology, but probability does not discriminate.
I have experienced dropped calls with my cellular phone regardless of the carrier or model. I was on my cellular phone discussing a technical issue with Hewlett Packard; I was about to receive the answer to my question when the call was dropped. Not only did I have to redial the number and go through the tedious touch tone menu again, but I had to explain my situation with another agent (my previous agent had taken another call). If you want a conversation with a much lower chance of signal loss, stick to a land line.
The numerous feature offers of modern devices are sales gimmicks I call “feature traps.” The modernized cellular phones, often called “smartphones,” do much more than exchange telephone conversations. Your phone can now multitask as a texting device, Internet access hub, gaming console, and much more. These extra services often cost money, of course, the same money you tried to save by ending your television service. The land line telephones offer only basic services: send and receive calls, caller ID, and a message machine. As an added bonus, current land line telephone sets are a much cheaper purchase than their wireless alternatives.
The previously mentioned feature traps are also a headache in both the public and private environments. Every movie theater I have gone to includes someone who forgot to shut off their cellular phone, leaving the annoying ringtones a frequent distraction. The same thing happens within stores. Someone delays their leave of the checkout line in order to reply to a text message. Not only does this disruption irritate customers, but it costs the store money, since time is being taken away from processing merchandise purchases. This is especially dangerous on roads. The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that texting and talking on the phone caused eighteen percent of all distracted-driving fatalities in 2009.
A Breach in the Cell
The greatest difference between land line and cellular phones is security. While the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is allowed to tap into telephone conversations via the USA Patriot Act, smartphones have made the issue even more menacing. The integration of information sharing technologies such as Bluetooth and software applications has become a new method of attack for cyber stalkers and cyber bullies In addition, GPS data taken from a cellular phone can be used to track your every move.
One advantage of cellular phones emerges from the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call List which forbids telemarketers to contact your cellular phone unless you allow it. Therefore, any unknown salesperson/machine calling you on your cellular phone can be easily identified as a scammer.
The greatest difference between the cellular and land-line phones is the ease of use. On the cellular phone, people can contact you whenever they want to using numerous methods, since the phone is always on your person. With a land line phone, the only time you have to answer phone calls is when you are at home; when you are away, you do not have to worry about turning off a land line phone. In addition, having a land line phone is considerate of others. Many people (especially those of the pre-1950 generation) were unable to bridge the gap between analog and digital communication, thus left at a disadvantage in the world of wireless; keeping a land line is a convenience to both them and you.