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We used to pick up the phone

Tethered to the phone hanging on the wall, we forfeited our anonymity to the unknown stranger.

Every call felt like a cold call, with no indication of who was on the other line. Yet it felt surprisingly safe to answer even if it was a telemarketer. “No thanks, we’re eating dinner. Please call back later.” Hang up.

Now we expect every phone call to be preceded by a text, even if it’s our closest friends and family members. And we’re sure as hell never going to answer an unknown number because chances are it’s a Chinese spammer.

With screen time the default, if we’re going to answer the phone to take us away from whatever else we’re doing — emailing, texting, scrolling Instagram — there better be someone we know or think we know on the other line.

By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of four books.

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